Every year, around this time of the year, I fall into the same trap. One morning the temperature will have dropped, and I’ll have to wear a coat. This is not complicated; it’s cold, wear a coat. However, once I put that coat on a switch is flipped in my head. It’s now the cold season, I’m going to have to wear a coat until spring. To demonstrate, here’s a chart of how I perceive this:
This is how it would be in a simple world. I could rotate my winter and summer clothes with ease, and not have to check the temperature every morning. Oh, yesterday we crossed the coat line, better wear a coat today. Of course, the real world is closer to this:
It crosses that line multiple times before settling below. Life is ziggy.
So too is raising a baby. More specifically to the point of this post, sleep patterns are ziggy. Another chart:
When I say sleep expectations, I mean how long we expect her to sleep, sleeping at consistent times, and ease of getting to sleep. All three of these should get better over time, right? And never ever ever regress, right? A more accurate chart:
It’s not a consistent climb. There’s the giant breakthrough when she sleeps for 4 hours instead of two (and you think you slept through her crying for two hours), there’s the big jump when sleep sleeps through the night (and you wake up in the morning and think that something terrible has happened to her), and slight improvements in ease and consistency throughout.
Then, in our experience, there’s the dip, the regression. I remember talking with another parent who was in the dip. I was aghast. Regression! NO!!!! It’s just supposed to get easier over time. Once you’ve crossed the coat line, you can’t go back!
Regression happens for a number of reasons. For us, when she was sick she would sleep worse, or when we had a busy day she would have more trouble sleeping. It’s that odd thing where she sleeps worse when she’s really tired. Then there was the time where she just started taking longer to get to sleep and waking in the middle of the night. What happened? Her brain.
See, she started to learn things, like sitting up, babbling, and who knows what else. (I theorize that she’s wondering why that cute girl in the mirror has a dad that looks just like hers.) She practices these things in bed, she ponders the new thing that she learned, who has time for sleep! We, at times, will just leave her in her crib for a while, and she will just talk to herself for a while.
While fantastic that she’s developing…it really stinks at 4 am. It’s weird how in those first few weeks when you don’t get sleep you somehow make it work because you know that’s the way it is. You were up multiple times for long periods, but we feel just as tired now with this one interruption. It must have something to do with expectation. I expected to wake back then, I don’t now.
As I finish writing this post, we’re climbing back up that chart. Not back to where we were, as she’s been creeping up her morning wake time on us, but no more waking at three am wide awake and ready for the world.
I’m sure that the future will be smooth sailing from here. Once she learns what bedtime means, I’m sure she’ll place her toys down and get ready. I’m sure that she’ll check her calendar and give us an extra half-hour on the weekends, and I’m sure that no other issues will pop up, like temper tantrums, night terrors, or monsters in the closet will happen, right?