Wow Month Four.
I almost didn’t write this post. Scribble turned four months on December 22nd, so it is already a week late! His four month birthday fell right in the middle of the holiday season, which made it difficult for me to find time to write. But more than that, Scribble’s fourth month of life has been challenging for us. It feels like the parenting game is changing on a daily basis and I don’t know if anyone can really learn from the foibles we’ve committed in the last few weeks. Perhaps my post will help someone feel a little better when their parenthood path seems obscured!
On his three month birthday Scribble slept a record eight hour stretch and that’s the last time he’s slept through the night since. A few days after Thanksgiving he entered a sleep regression that has lasted almost the whole month. We struggled through the first week, hoping it was a growth spurt, before we decided to get proactive. We decided that Scribble’s sleep problems could only be a result of a few things: our then-nonexistent schedule, bad sleep associations, the swaddle, physical and intellectual milestones, or teething.
We decided to start small-scale, and work toward more extreme interventions. Around this time, Scribble consolidated his naps, so it made the most sense to attempt to schedule first. Setting up a schedule deserves its own post, so I won’t detail that experience here. But scheduling consumed our month. I finally became a proper mom in month four. Baby wasn’t sleeping just anywhere anymore so I had to reconfigure my life to fit his needs in ways I hadn’t before. This meant turning down holiday party invitations even when we had a sitter, and asking guests to plan their visits around our daily routine. An extrovert by nature, I have changed more in this month than in any other! I’ve gone from being the enthusiastic new parent who brings her six week old to a barbecue festival, to the drag of a mom who arches her eyebrows when someone suggests disturbing her child’s nap schedule.
Setting up a schedule helped his nighttime sleep for a week or so, but then everything fell apart again. Scribble started waking up every 30 to 45 minutes after we first put him to bed at night. My mood and energy level dropped back to where they were when he was first born. I was snippy and exhausted.
It was time to re-evaluate our interventions. Our remaining options were to move him into his own room where his sleep wouldn’t be disrupted by our nightime activity, to stop rocking him at night and break his need to be held, to cry it out, or to accept the reality that he was teething and needed some medicine to control his discomfort.
Moving him out of our room felt– and still feels– impossible since our bedroom is on the first floor and his is on the second. I don’t want to be so far away from him or to climb stairs to nurse two or three times a night. I am also holding onto the hope that we will not have to cry it out. So instead we decided to limit the amount of rocking we do each night and to make a concerted effort to put him down in his crib awake. And although I am generally wary of unnecessary medication, I decided to give him Tylenol, if his doctor confirmed our suspicions that he was teething. It would be the least painful of our available options.
Amazingly, at our four month appointment yesterday our doctor confirmed that Scribble’s gums were swollen and she showed us the tooth he is soon to sprout! Although I hate to know that Scribble is in pain, I am glad to know there is something we can do to help him. Last night we gave him Tylenol for the first time and applied Orajel Naturals to his gums. Although he still woke up a few times, he slept better than he has in weeks! He slept for two whole hours during his morning nap, which is usually his shortest nap of the day. Hopefully he wasn’t experiencing a Tylenol hangover!
I think perhaps only time will solve this issue for us. Regardless we will still plug away, trying to provide him with the ideal environment for restful sleep, and I will try to enjoy these late-night rocking sessions in spite of my fatigue.
In month four I also faced one of my most persistent Mommy Fears… the day when I am too sick to care for him properly! I caught the stomach flu in early December. It was just as disgusting as it sounds. Luckily my husband was able to take a day off when I was at my worst, but since Scribble is reluctant to take a bottle I wasn’t able to get much uninterrupted sleep. On the second day my husband had to return to work and my mommy-reserves kicked in. I wasn’t able to play with Scribble as I usually do, we co-slept for naps, and there were a few times when I had to let him cry while I attended to my needs, but we both came out of the experience unscathed.
In spite of these challenges, Month Four has been a joy. Scribble is so alert! He is always smiling. He enjoys peek-a-boo and is showing interest in toys. He still loves to coo and to sing along when we talk or sing to him. On his 16 week birthday he rolled from belly to back and is working on rolling from back to front; he can roll onto his side but hasn’t gotten all the way over.
This month I find myself suddenly aware of how quickly these baby months will fly by. It really hit me when he rolled over, and when I had to start boxing up his three month clothes. When I was pregnant, I couldn’t see around the challenge of being responsible for a baby. Now we’re a third of the way through the baby phase and the end seems so near. I am dreading the day he is able to sit up; that will be the milestone that breaks my heart. I wake up every day so thankful that I get to spend another day with my sweet baby.
This month has been difficult at times, but seeing Scribble grow and develop his beautiful personality has made the challenges worthwhile!
I am optimistic that month five will be challenging but also satisfying. In the upcoming month I hope to start cloth diapering and will swaddle wean. Wish me luck!
How did you fare in month four? Did you experience the dreaded sleep regression?