4 Month Sleep Regression

*** So, I wrote this… posted it… and then after reading it a couple of times after it went live, it became painfully obvious exactly how tired I am. So much for proofreading. Please enjoy the edited version… you know, the one with correct spelling and decent grammar.

Since birth CharlieJoy has been pretty good sleeper. I was warned about cluster feeding, but that wasn’t that bad. I have always been able to feed and get her back down without incident. The doc mentioned something about teething disrupting her sleep, but she’s been trying to teeth since she turned three months old, and that hasn’t been that eventful either.

About two and a half weeks ago things completely changed. I can get through our normal bedtime routine and get her down. She sleeps for no more than two hours. I’ll get her up, feed and lay her back down and she’s restless until she wakes herself up again. The only way I can get her down to sleep – and get any sleep myself – is to put her in the bed with me and nurse on my side. She latches and essentially pacifies for what feels like forever, going in and out of sleep. She’ll unlatch, I’ll push her away so I can’t roll on her. An hour or so later she starts with the restless thing, so we latch again, she pacifies and then falls out and I push her away. We do this dance all night until somewhere around 4 am when she completely falls out and I could throw a circa 1995 rave party and it wouldn’t wake her up. At that point she’ll stay asleep all morning until about 10 am.

Now, I get that babies are babies. They are growing and changing, their little brains are going about a million miles an hour, everything is new, and they are learning. However, as 24/7 caregiver to this tiny human… well, I’m learning too, and to make matters worse, I’m exhausted.

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I hate bed sharing with CharlieJoy. I hate it. I gave in on about night 3 of this mess and let her sleep in the bed, but my bed is not safe baby sleeping surface friendly – and when I gave in she had just learned to roll. I am also a sound sleeper – a sleep through Armageddon sound sleeper (or at least I was for my entire life until 4 months ago, I’m not convinced I’m completely over that so I don’t want to risk it).

I did a little post on my personal Facebook page about putting her in the bed with me to finally get some sleep and several friends commented on how wonderful bed sharing is. Apparently everyone does it and everyone loves it. That’s so awesome. I wish I could.

I am paranoid to DEATH about SIDS and accidental suffocation. I worked really hard and put up with a lot of crap (and by crap I mean needles) to get this baby here. I don’t want to lose her to something so absolutely avoidable.

I did some research on bed sharing and found out that according to the APA about 3,500 babies die from SIDS, accidental suffocation and unexplained causes every year. I was confused by the fact that the La Leche League encourages bedsharing and cosleeping saying that mothers instinctively form a cocoon around their babies to protect them and that they are getting the most sleep by doing so. My instinctive parenting looks like a trainwreck… I’m thinking I don’t want to risk anything that has a consequence like accidental suffocation.

HOWEVER, I’m now two and a half weeks in. Totally gave up. I’m bedsharing now that my little munchkin has learned to roll back to front and front to back. I still don’t like it. I’d never recommend it. EVER.

I’ve managed to come up with a system where I use the same boob all night, and that boob determines how we sleep. If it’s right boob night, then I feed her, push her away and surround her by pillows, I roll to the middle of the bed and hold her foot all night so I’ll wake up if she rolls. Her pack n play is also right next and it’s got the mat in it so if by some chance there was an accident, she’s not rolling very far. If it’s left boob night, then she feeds and I push her away a few inches and put a pillow between her and my SO who is a very light sleeper. I try to use right boob all night though since it’s super boob anyways and then I don’t have to worry about my SO.

And yes, in case you’re wondering, I do wake up with one super deflated boob and one full boob. It’s pretty comical. My hope is that since she’s basically continuously feeding a little all night long that it will help with milk production. I give her the one that’s full after she has her cereal or I pump. I’ve been trying to store some milk in the freezer for days she goes to daycare, so it actually helps get a good pump out of that wimpy left boob but honestly, I HAVE seen an increase in production in the left boob since I’ve been doing this whole “same boob all night” thing.

None of this gets her out of my bed though. So I went to my Facebook groups for moms who nurse. I asked this question about her latching off and on all night and how to deal with it. Apparently all babies go through it and it’s called “4 Month Sleep Regression”. This is a thing. I had no idea. Apparently everyone knows about it but me. It has to do with brain development and it lasts 2 – 6 weeks. Cue my incredibly sarcastic happy dance right here.

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So I got several responses and one lady was kind enough to give me some pointers on encouraging healthy sleep practices. Okay, totes cool, but I asked the obvious question of what about it they cry? Do you let them cry it out? Do you pick them up? How does this work?

Back in the dark ages when I had my first baby (which feels like it was in a stall with the village midwife), we just put them down groggy after a bottle and if they stirred, you patted them on the back and as they started to go to sleep, you dropped to the floor and quietly low crawled out of the room. Was that just me? Please tell me I’m not the only one….

Fast forward a little over a year with that same first baby and she was still waking up at 2 am for a bottle and I was losing my damn mind. The doctor promptly informed me that she had ME trained and I needed to knock it off. At the time the Ferber method was all the rage. I totally see why too. By day three her little behind slept through all through the night, and it has continued to do so for the 15 years that have followed. If she’s up she is sick, dying, or there is some unexplainable teenage drama that I have to sort through until we determine the actual problem… but I digress….

I’m certainly not going to even consider the Ferber method with a 4 month old baby, but I do want to know more about healthy sleep practices and how to implement them because I still fully believe that I probably was not the wisest choice to entrust the safety and raising of a living and breathing tiny human to. The response to my “do we let them cry it out” was “we’re not allowed to talk about that thing you referred to that starts with a ‘c’ but you can try…..” and then she went into giving me some options like putting her down awake so she learns to put herself to sleep.

Then I was like wait a minute, hold up, what is going on here??? It’s true as we went back and forth in this conversation I clearly explained that it was cool, I understand parenting has changed over the DECADE AND HALF SINCE I’VE DONE IT and given that, I’d like to know what’s common practice now so I can explore my options, etc, etc…. It appears that you absolutely cannot talk about crying it out. Like they will delete your comment if it even indirectly refers to it – which mine was clearly a “what do I do IF” statement and not a recommendation or direct reference to crying it out. AND ADMIN IN THE GROUP DELETED IT FOR VIOLATING GROUP RULES. I can’t. I’m done.

So here we are two and half weeks later…. She’s still in my bed. Last night was right boob night in case you were wondering.

This battle goes to CharlieJoy. I admit defeat. Anyone else?