I want to go around punching all the childless people I see.
Poe’s sleep devolved about a week ago, and now we’re in the shit. Everything was looking rosy for a little while, culminating in one night where Poe slept for 6 hours in a row and then 3 straight hours after that. Glorious. But then something changed. It resulted from one of two things. Or both.
One, babies have sleep regressions. Something about their brains develop and they need to adjust to the world again, which causes disrupted sleep. The first big one is supposed to come at 4 months. Poe is only 3 months old, but she’s been advanced in other ways, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if she’s early. I’m not bragging, but, I mean, yeah, suck it, I guess.
The other possible cause is the one I’m kicking myself about. Three days before the breakdown, we started trying to get Poe to nap in the crib. Up until that point, she’d only ever really napped on someone or in the stroller. In an effort to not overwhelm Poe or ourselves, we started by trying to get only the first nap of the day in the crib.
The first time we put her down, she cried. Not surprising, but the crying was more fervent than the type of crying she does at night, which is more like complaining. I put my hand on her and tried the pacifier several times. On the fifth or sixth try (after about 15 minutes), she fell begrudgingly asleep. She only slept for about 25 minutes, but, all in all, it felt like a victory. Stupid Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it took us 7-10 nights of solid work to get Poe to sleep on her back in the bassinet at night, so I was prepared for a period of adjustment.
The next day, we tried again. This time, she cried a little harder and required a pick-up followed by some rocking. But then she fell asleep and napped on her back for a half hour. A tiny step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the next day was worse. Then things snowballed. Within three days, all of Poe’s naps, as well as her night-time sleep, were disrupted, culminating in a truly hellish Friday night.
I began to read voraciously. What was going on? Was it time for sleep training? Had we screwed things up somehow? The pediatrician said that the devolution of the naps was clearly affecting the night-time sleep and that it may be time for some version of sleep training. I asked the pediatrician which type she recommended, but she said that she couldn’t single out one method as better than the rest. They all seemed to work equally well, she said, as long as we committed to one and were consistent. I asked the doctor about concerns about a baby’s distress and cortisol levels in response to sleep training (I made the mistake of reading a study) and she assuaged those concerns relatively well. Poe was going to have to go through an adjustment period if we were going to try to get her on her back, and that would involve some crying, one way or another. I hung up the phone emboldened and encouraged.
And then we completely balked.
I made the mistake of reading up more on sleep training (why do I keep fucking reading?!) and read The Baby Whisperer, which makes some good points, but is stunningly negative and condescending and, at times, terrifying. It made me feel like I’d already ruined Poe’s life by letting her cry a minute here and a minute there.
So, we balked. We weren’t ready for sleep training. Most experts don’t recommend babies start sleep training until they are at least 4 months old. Poe is, as I said, 3 months old. We don’t want to scar her, and we don’t want to have to start sleep training right back up after the 4 month sleep regression wraps up (if this is indeed it).
So, we’re back to square…I don’t know. Negative one? First, we’ve gone back to Poe napping in the wrap, hoping this will calm her down and stabilize her a bit. We’re trying to get her on a more reliable schedule during the day (something we hadn’t really done at all until now) and are going to try to stop nursing her to sleep, which has become a big prop for her. So, we’ll see. The first night trying to get things back on track, it took 50 minutes to get her to sleep, but then she had a so-so night. The couple nights after that, not so great. I don’t know. Help?
But, so, anyway, the last week has been hell, and I’ve been looking around at childless people and wanting to tackle them and scream my pain into their eyes and down their throats. Just now, upon leaving my building, I saw a young man walking without a care in the world, two books under his arm.
“What do you think you’re gonna do, fancy boy?!” I thought-screamed, “Read both of them?! Well, aren’t you awash in a sea of free time?!”
Walking through the park with Alexis and Poe this weekend, I saw couple upon couple lounging on the grass or spread out on benches. One sat beside each other, separated by a backpack, he staring at his phone, she reading a book. Next to them, another couple, the man looking as if he had been posed by a photographer to embody disaffected, carefree boredom. I wanted to puke fire onto all of them.
Happy parents rankle me as well, but rather than wanting to rage-jaculate all over them, I want to grab them by the shoulders and scream, “How do you do it?!” If I had one less ounce of self-control, I would accost every last parent I saw on the street and demand they tell me how they got their kid to sleep, or at least how they survived the first year. Sleep training? Co-sleeping? Just riding it out? Anti-depressants? Partial self-lobomy? I don’t give a shit, I’ll do it! I’ll do it.
Or not. I mean, if its the least bit challenging or stressful, we probably won’t do it. So…yeah.