I don’t really know how to start this blog, other than to say that for the first time, I feel like a useless father. It’s made me cry for the first time since Raife was born (the sad kind, not the happy kind).
He’s nearly four months old, and is currently going through something called sleep regression. If you know what that is, then you know! If not, it’s a period of a few weeks where a baby’s sleep pattern goes out of the window because their brain is developing more than ever before. Even if they’ve been sleeping well, which Raife had been, they suddenly start waking frequently through the night and are inconsolable when they do. So many articles refer to it as the ‘DREADED four month sleep regression”…dreaded!!!
The past few nights, I’ve found it particularly difficult. Not the lack of sleep – I can (sort of) handle that. It’s not being able to get Raife back to sleep that has really affected me. After battling through the first week, we researched sleep regression and how to improve things and came up with a plan.
I don’t want to get into the technicalities of sleep regression in this blog. But to give a brief outline of what we’re doing – rather than rocking Raife until he’s in a deep sleep for 30 minutes or so, then putting him down only for him to wake up soon after, we’re putting him down after five minutes or so as he’s drowsy to help him learn to fall asleep himself. We leave him to it, if he cries, wait it out for a few minutes, rock him for five minutes, rub his head until he drops off again and repeat if necessary until he’s asleep.
Emma seems to have got to grips with it really quickly. It has taken a lot of effort, but she’s been brilliant at it from the start – no surprise there! Having spent much of the past week hearing Raife wail as he wakes for the hundredth time in the night, I barely heard him make a peep on Monday night. When it came to my turn to settle him down at 4:15am, however, all progress went out the window.
Whereas Emma was getting Raife to sleep quietly and calmly in a relatively quick time, every time I attempted to put him down he was utterly inconsolable. Nearly two hours I spent trying the technique. I failed for nearly two hours. Now, spending two hours trying to get a three-month-old baby is no big deal to so many parents. I know that. It’s the spell of consecutive nights where I’m unable to settle my son while my wife finds it comparatively easy that has made me feel utterly useless.
When I take Raife, it’s Emma’s chance to get some rest. But when I can’t settle him for nearly two hours and I’m not doing my job, Emma isn’t getting the rest she desperately needs and Raife isn’t getting back to sleep.
As my Tuesday morning alarm crept nearer, as another attempt to put Raife in his cot ended in failure, I sobbed. I took him to another room to give Emma some peace. I sobbed some more. I stood there, rocking a wide-eyed Raife, questioning why I couldn’t do it, feeling useless, sobbing.
I’m great at the fun stuff. I can make Raife laugh and smile with ease. I can be goofy and make up silly songs. However, while crying, I wondered ‘what is the point is being able to do all that if I can’t get him to sleep and give my wife some rest?’.
Driving to work after a very brief stint of sleep, I wouldn’t say I felt more positive about the situation, more that I felt less negative. I told myself that I was being silly. I know things will improve, and that I’ll be more successful getting Raife to sleep during this sleep regression spell.
I don’t want to dismiss it, though. It affected me and talking about it is a positive thing, to help me cope with it in the coming week(s). This blog isn’t me looking for sympathy or fishing for someone to tell me I’m a great father. It’s my outlet to explain how I’m feeling. I don’t want this website to present the image that our family is perfect, that we’re the perfect parents, and everything is just perfect. That’s not realistic. Parenting is bloody hard. And we’re both going to find it really mentally tough at times. Talking about that, whether it’s with each other or on a blog, will help.
From a selfish point of view, I know this will help me deal with these feelings of uselessness. But if one person in the same situation reads this and takes comfort knowing they’re not the only one, I’ll be happy.
Here’s to hard work to help all three of us through the four month sleep regression!
P.S. Why does no one tell you about the four month sleep regression?! They tell you about the lack of sleep in the first few weeks, and teething, and the terrible twos. No one told us about the four month sleep regression!!