Posted by: webbhouston | October 13, 2009

Sleep regressions, milestones, and growth spurts.. oh my!! – Part one

Actually, “Oh Hell!!” would be more like it.

As parents, sleep is one of those things that we never get enough of, are always talking about, and are always looking for more of.  Even parents of kids who can be considered “good sleepers” have their moments when they wonder if they will ever get a good night sleep again. Usually these time periods can be predicted if you look at when milestones are being met and when growth spurts are happening.

Right now Calvin is in the middle of growing molars and mastering speech. This obviously means no sleep for us and nursing non stop.

Between having two kids in two years and having them both be crappy sleepers (though I thank my lucky stars that Calvin is much better than Kate was) I have become a master as blaming their crappy sleep (and my crappy sleep) on one of the three things mentioned above. Honestly they are all pretty much related, milestone achievements can lead to sleep regressions… growth spurts can lead to more nursing which = no sleep for me. All in all a clusterf*** of exhaustion for all of us.

When Kate was born I was pretty sure that her cluster feeding was just a product of her being the spawn of satan or me having to pay for some bad karma that I racked up when I was young and stupid… or something of the sorts.  Of course I later found out that those first few weeks babies go through a ton of growth spurts. No wonder we are all exausted! But think about it, if you know how bad it is to watch these spurts from the sidelines… can you imagine how exhausting it would be to actually be having those spurts? Think about it.

7-10 days, 2-3 weeks, 4-6 weeks, 3 months, 4 months, 6 months and 9 months (more or less).

This is when Kellymom says that growth spurts happen. So lets say that you are a baby who just went from being inside of a warm womb, to being ejected out into this world and all of the sounds, smells, and sights that come with it… then just when you start settling down you have this huge growth spurt. You have to eat and eat!!! Nothing can satisfy you, you are antsy, you body is doing things left and right… and you have no idea why. Then you are ok for a day or two.. maybe a week. All of a sudden, there we are again!! Eating while you are growing and growing while you are eating… and this goes on almost non stop for roughly 3-4 months. If it exhausts you to think about doubling your weight in 3-4 months, and learning to see things, and making noises, and learning to nurse, and trying to exercise those muscles that you will need to walk, crawl, and run… can you imagine actually doing it?

Really, our tiredness is nothing compared to what they go through in such a short time.

k8bb

Unfortunately, during these growth spurts many mothers decide that they are not producing enough milk and start supplementing. During these times when their babies need the best nourishment the most… they give up.  Why? I think it is a lack of understanding of what growth spurts are, and what cluster feeding is really… kids are supposed to do cluseterfeed. They are supposed to feed all day and all night. This does not mean that your are defective. This does not mean that your breasts dont work. Why? Because breastmilk production is supply and demand. If your child needs more, they will nurse more… and you will make more… and it will keep going like that until your supply is regulated to be what your child needs. I do understand though, being exhausted already because of the lack of sleep and then having to deal with a baby who just wants to be attached to you like a milk tick… it can be hell for sure.

Just when you think that you have the growth spurts down and that your child will give you a break… the milestones start to hit you one by one.

One of the first ones that my kids really battled with was rolling over. My kids were born holding their head up so they started trying to roll over just about immediately, this really kept them awake at night. It didnt help that it was compounded with teething as well. My kids both had teeth at 3-4 months making the 3-5 month period pretty much unbearable.

For many kids sitting up on their own is a big milestone that really keeps them up at night.  For mine it wasnt that bad, or maybe because we had such awful beginnings this didnt seem as big a deal.

Around the four month is also when the “four month sleep regression” starts.  If you think about it, it does make sense though… kids have a great deal to process on a daily basis. They are learning and observing, so it is obvious that their sleep will be troubled until they are at a comfortable place in their minds… which wont happen for a good while.

sleep

After this it may seem like you are getting a break… if teething doesnt rear it’s ugly head… but then you reach 7-9 months and we start standing up, cruising, and walking. For most kids at this age the teeth are really bothering them and their minds are even starting to process things like words and commands. They can understand languages and they recognize their parents, maybe they can even say “mama” and “dada”. Processing language and more motor skills does a real number on infants.  This 8 month sleep regression that many parents experience is the point where many parents consider starting to sleep train or letting their child cry it out. They feel that since their child is older it should be expected to have them self soothe and that CIO is a good tactic.

Again, let’s look at this from the POV of an infant. You are learning and experiencing new things and your body is doing it’s own thing… you have no idea what is going on but one of the few things that you DO know is that you have two people who look after you and you have seen them every day of your life. Then one day, they are not there… and you need them and you cry… and you have no idea why they are not there anymore. So in the midst of all of these new and exhausting events going on through your life… you are alone. Yes, it is only for a few minutes… this is what the books and some of your friends might say. It isnt for very long… it isnt forever. But answer me this.. how does the child know this?  They have no concept of time yet and they do not understand why for 15 minutes you were not there.

This wraps up the detail of the first year of torture that as new parents we are put through.  I cant give you a solution s to how to make your child sleep, nobody really can… and if they promise that they can they lie. However, I can do this… I can tell you that you are not a failure… that your child is normal… and that this too shall pass.

I will write more about what comes after the first year next.  No, the hell does not end yet… but yes you do get a bit of a break.

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