It's official. We made it to the dreaded Week 19. I knew it had been looming, it fact I've been waiting for this to happen for weeks. My baby has gone mad. And mom and dad? We're holding on by a thread.
We're in the midst of our 4 month sleep regression. In fact, I think we've been here for nearly a week now. Sleep regressions happen at many different times during a child's development where a combination of changes, growth, and mental leaps disrupt their sleep for a while. They say to expect the worst sleep regressions around 4 and 9 months with itty bitty bumps in the road around months 6 and 13. I think I, like a lot of parents started racking my brain for what I did wrong, what happened to my baby who just about slept through the night? Well, she can't tun her mind off Mom, that's what.
Have you ever laid in bed the night before you have something really important to do, or somewhere to be, and you literally toss and turn for hours. You get up, change your pajamas (because maybe they were bothering you), you get a drink, you flip your pillows over a few hundred times, you put your hair up, you take your hair down. No? No one? This is totally me when I have to sleep, but can't. And so it helps me keep things in perspective for my little one who currently just moans and whines and rolls around from complete exhaustion but can seem to turn her rapidly developing brain off.
Wonder weeks are huge developmental growth spurts, or mental leaps that are usually accompanied by sleep regression, fussiness, clinginess, and all out melt-downs. They occur because our babies are putting so much mental energy into learning new skills that they just feel out of sorts.
Yesterday, Reese was laying on a blanket and had her hand up in the air, clenching and moving her fingers. One second, she was mesmerized, she just stared at her hand in amazement. And then the next second, screamed crying. Eyes closed, red face, shaking crying. Out of nowhere. Pure frustration was written all over her face. The same thing happened a few days ago when she was trying to get one of her soft toys into her mouth and it would only go flat against her face. World. Over.
Wonder Week 19 is characterized by babies starting to put together sequence of events. I see my toy, I'm gonna grab my toy, now I'm putting my toy in my mouth. You can read more about the Wonder Weeks here.
Times like these make you question everything as you're doing as a parent. I am trying to find the blame instead of just getting us through this growth spurt in one piece. Books like Baby Wise and The Sleep Lady are all scolding me for not letting my baby cry-it-out. I hear them in the back of my head every time I nurse Reese to sleep. Every time I pull the covers up over us at bedtime. I hear them yelling. She should be in her own bed. She will fall asleep eventually. Crying isn't going to damage her. You are teaching her to need you to go to sleep. And they aren't the only people saying these things.
What works for some people just doesn't work for us. I will not let my baby cry herself to sleep. I can't and I won't. And I won't point fingers or shame you if you do. It's just not my jam. Everywhere I look someone is telling someone else how much damage they are doing to their child. Thats the beauty of having our own kids. We can do what works for us. Let's all just damage our own kids the way we want to.
My only advice for getting through these rough patches is to toss the blame in the trash. It's not your fault. It's not the baby's fault. And it certainly isn't forever. Use this time of crankiness and clinginess to love on your baby a little more. Be a reassuring hug that she will get through this crazy wonder week in one piece. Letting her nap on your chest this week is not going to completely wreck your sleep training. One night in your bed won't mean she's there til she's 14. Just get through the tough spots as gracefully as you can and remember it isn't going to last forever.
The good news, moms, is there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Wonder weeks always end kind of wonderful. Our babies are left with all these new skills they can put into practice. There have been perks to watching my child cry and whimper like she's going to self combust from her busy brain. I am amazed watching her roll back and forth with little effort, stick her tongue out and sing, use both hands to put things in her mouth, find herself in the mirror, and scoot around on her back.
So for now, we aren't sleeping. We aren't too happy. And we don't look too pretty. But theres always coffee. And stress eating. And the comfort that there are lots of other mommas in the same boat right now. Let's all remind ourselves what a good job we're doing.