I’ve been putting this post off forever partly because every time I sit down to write it my kid throws me a sleep curve ball and partly because I just didn’t know what I wanted to say about the subject. After thinking about it for a while I think the best way to approach this shit filled can of worms is to jump in and hope I don’t drown.
If you follow me on twitter, are my Facebook friend, or know me in real life you know that my son has not been the best sleeper in the world. The problem actually is not that he is a poor sleeper but instead that he is dangerously inconsistent. I used the word dangerously on purpose, his inconsistency is dangerous to my goddamn sanity.
When Nathan was born he was actually a pretty awesome sleeper. After he turned about 3 weeks old he started sleeping from 8pm until about 3am and then he would eat and crash back out until 7am. I thought I hit the baby jackpot. Actually I thought God was giving me a break for giving me a baby with reflux who hardly napped and wanted to be held all day. This joyous sleep schedule continued from 3 weeks until he was almost 4 months old. Then all hell broke loose in baby world.
Nathan started daycare when he was around 3 months old so by the time he was getting close to 4 months he had gotten a horrendous virus complete with a very high fever and a desire to avoid eating all together. He scared the shit out of me. As a function of this joyous bounty of snot came sleep disruption. He was awake every hour because he was having trouble breathing through his snotty little nose. Couple this with the 4 month sleep regression and you have two very tired, very frustrated parents.
Around 6 months the sleep started to improve again netting us one or two wakeups a night at worst and about half the time he would just sleep straight through. Once again joy was returned to the kingdom. I thought we were in the clear and instead of getting bad again it would just keep improving until he slept through all the time. I was wrong. SO FUCKING WRONG. The day before Thanksgiving Nathan got his first tooth and the sleep again disappeared.
Nathan was 8 months old when we hit another wall of sleep terrible. Between the teething and another brutal sleep regression he was up every 1-2 hours for the better part of 6 weeks. Then it got noticeably worse because he started dealing with separation anxiety which meant once he woke up he was impossible to calm down and resettle. It lasted somewhere between 8 and 10 weeks. I think he was 10 months old or maybe 10.5 months old before things started to get better again.
Sleep has once again returned to the household and even naps are improved. Little man currently wakes up either one time or zero times a night. Sometimes he gets up really early but that’s less of an issue for me. This post is already massively long so I’m not going to detail what we had to do to get to this point in this post. What I will say is we didn’t have to let him scream until he passed out every night for a week. Don and I couldn’t handle straight up letting him cry it out so we chose a much gentler approach. Yes it took us between 2 and 3 weeks to really see the benefits but we were willing to wait instead of listening to him cry himself to sleep. This isn’t to say that the Cry It Out (CIO) method is wrong. I’m just saying that it was fully wrong for US.
I know there will likely be more weeks of sleep disturbance in our future. We still have 16 teeth to cut and this baby still hasn’t learned to walk or talk yet. All of these types of things make a mess out of sleep and I know that. The point is things improved and they improved dramatically. I am no longer plotting murder at every turn. There was a point a few months ago when I thought about murdering a Dunkin Donuts employee for forgetting to put sugar in my coffee. I am not making this shit up. I drove all the way to work dreaming of ways I would kill him violently.
The biggest takeaway here is that sleep is not a linear journey when you have an infant. Every day or month isn’t one step closer to them sleeping through. You’ll find ups and downs along the path. If you don’t have kids and are planning on it know this one important fact. BABY SLEEP SUCKS ASS. It can range from great to shit-on-a-stick bad. Eventually it improves and sometimes nothing you have done has really helped that. It’s about time and them kind of growing into strong sleep patterns. Don’t forget though that those sleep patterns can fall asleep at any goddamn turn.
Every time the sleep starts to fall apart I am forced to quote Jurassic Park…. “Hold onto your butts”.
EDIT: I think you guys need to share. If you have children what kind of sleepers were they and how was your sleep roller coaster? What steps as parents did you take to help them sleep better? INFORM ME. BLOG ROBOT NEED INFORMATION.