Sleep Regression

I should have predicted this would happen — as soon as I crowed about my ability to manage the sleep situation around here, Edith stopped sleeping. Apparently this is a known phenomenon called a “sleep regression” wherein a baby looses its hard-won ability to sleep for long periods the second it starts to master a new skill because babies are nightmares (or I guess daymares. Wake…mares? What works here, god, I’m so tired).

I’ve overall been amazed at how predictably consistent human development is. The books accurately predict every single thing that Edith will do down to the minute. This is humbling — we humans are all the same, we are basically robots. They said that around this time, she will begin to learn how to roll, and then she will want to practice rolling all the time, and then she will revert to her newborn sleep schedule of ~3 hour shifts through the night.

Bang on! This is exactly what has happened!

Edith is rolling around like a tiny tumbleweed, and whereas I used to be able to basically bore her to sleep at night using blackout curtains and a noise machine, she does not need a light source to practice rolling, so she cannonballs around in her basinet all night, and, being awake, is not about to miss a meal.

The really unfortunate part about all this is that I have lost my ability to fall asleep immediately when I have the chance, so every time she gets up, I’m wide awake for another hour after I get her down again, just thinking about what I will do the next day, which I am then too tired to do because I spent all night awake thinking about it.

Last night, I tried to cheat the system by not feeding her when she woke up (which the books say you can try, and she doesn’t actually need to eat this frequently through the night anymore; she wasn’t doing it for about a month; stop looking at me like that, she’s not really hungry!), but instead just rocking her back to sleep in the dark. It seemed to work for a minute. I put her back in her basinet, and she began to suck on her fists. She sucked on them very loudly for 30 minutes while I stewed next to her, teeth gritted. Then, she seemed to realize she wasn’t getting served, and belted a scream unto the night the fury of which was only matched previously by one time I accidentally dropped her head back onto her play mat from a very short distance (she was fine! Stop looking at me like that!).

As accurate as the books are about what babies will put you through, their advice on how to mitigate the more exasperating effects of this behavior are worthless, as if they had never so much as seen a human baby. For one thing, all the books say that from very early, you should work on putting a newborn down “drowsy but awake” so they learn how to go to sleep independently and don’t need to fall asleep on you. If you’ve spent even so much as a second around a newborn, you know how completely moronic this advice is. You might as well expect your newborn to stand up independently at bedtime, execute a darling little Von Trapp routine, curtsey, and whisk herself off to bed. All that happens if you attempt to put a baby down “drowsy but awake” is that the baby entertains herself just long enough for you to fall asleep and start dreaming, and then screams until you wake up and pick her up again. You can both do this infinitely throughout the night if you’d like to!

Edith blessedly (and I’m really knocking on wood here) is pretty good about transferring from my arms to her basinet. When she was littler, I had to put her down like I was reenacting a scene from The Hurt Locker, but now if she wakes up when I set her down, she typically just gives me a withering look like I’m a server who spilled her wine on the table and then goes back to sleep.

Or she did. Until this sleep regression. I put her down five times in a row at the beginning of last night’s marathon of torment, and every time, she popped back awake, curled up like a pillbug, and started ricocheting back and forth. She has this little shout she does when she’s ready to be awake and I’m trying to put her to sleep. It’s a single proclamation and it sounds a lot like “Hey!” “Hey, I’m awake here!” “Hey, play with me!” “Hey, it’s morning I bet!” “Hey, bitch, entertain me!”

I love it so much, even though I should hate it. Which, it occurs to me, could be the official slogan of motherhood.

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