This is how my babies work:
Months 0-1: get up a lot at night, eat, go back to sleep pretty easy -- no need for bouncing or rocking or holding.
Months 2-3: steadily improved sleep, 7 hour stretches, one wake up to eat, set up foundation of baby lies.
Months 4-5: No Sleep TIL FOREVER. Wake up every 1-2 hours, demand boob like a starving animal. Any resistance = SCREAMS.
With your brother I put off sleep training, afraid of listening to him cry. But when we did it at 6 months it was pretty easy and then he just slept and it was AMAZING. My pediatrician recommends sleep training as early as 2 months and I know a few people who tried this with amazing results. I swore I would sleep train earlier with you -- possibly even before I returned to work. But I didn’t. You were sleeping ok-ish at 4 months and I thought maybe you would figure it out on your own -- no need to push you, no need to listen to you cry! WIN/WIN. Instead… you started sleeping less and less and I went back to work and I got more and more tired and so shortly after 4 months we decided to go for it and sleep train.
It did not go well.
We live in a 2 bedroom Brooklyn apartment and you have been sleeping in mom and dad’s room. The plan has been to move you into your brother’s room once you sleep better… so for now we’re sleep training you in our room. To make things easier on both of us I decamped to the couch.
The first few nights were as advertised -- you cried a bit, it was hard but ok -- you seemed toimprove. I literally wrote down this note after a couple of nights, “Your sleep patterns have been exactly like Casper’s -- at 3 months you were consistently sleeping 7 hour stretches but by 4 you’re back to getting up every 2-3 hours and so the sleep training has begun. We’re only a couple of nights in but already there is progress and I am entertaining dreams that somehow you will be my easy sleeping child.” Jesus Christ, I’m a sucker.
You never got past crying from 4am onward until morning (6ish). After 4-5 nights of this we decided that you had to be fed at 4. This worked great for a couple of nights -- down at 7, a couple of short wake ups through the night then eat at 4, sleep until 6ish. Then you decided that your meal need to arrive at 2. Down at 7, sleep until 2, cry for TWO HOURS, eat at 4, maybe just get up for the day. It was hell.
I tried to stay strong and let you cry. Certain you’d figure it out. Certain that if we started going to get you all of the work we’d done would be ruined. But when you would wake up for 2 hours I would be up for 3 since it took me an hour to calm down from your being awake. I was, at best, getting 4 hours of broken sleep per night with at most a 90 min stretch of straight sleep. On the night you woke up at 10:30 and cried until midnight and then woke again at 2 I gave up. I felt like the biggest failure ever but we went back to letting you eat whenever which, even though this meant wake ups every 2 hours (or more) was still more sleep than I had gotten in the past 2 weeks.
Happily, after a few weeks, we have managed to wean you off of the 12:30 feeding which combined with a dream feed around 10 has you sleeping from 7-2 and then from 2-4:30…. Which at this point feels like some sort of sleep heaven.
But you do other things besides wake up all night asking for the boob. Cuter things. Things that mostly make up for the bullshit you pull at night.
All of the crying has won us a baby who puts himself to sleep for bed and naps and who naps pretty regularly. This is something I think I never accomplished with Casper so we’ll take it as a small win.
You’re rolling all over the house -- I’ve recently had to rescue you from underneath a chair.
You’ve cut two sharp little chompers -- your bottom middle teeth.
Your brother likes to get right up in your face, resting his big old head on your chest and sing -song, “I just love this boy.” You think he’s hilarious.
Your hunger cues have evolved from pecking my face to opening your mouth as wide as possible and screaming “AHAHAHAH!!!!” When I arrive home from work and you spot me from across the room you are the angriest baby bird.
You want everything to get in your mouth and when something you’ve grabbed it too large to fit you slam it into your own face and scream at it -- so far this approach has not proven successful but you are undeterred.
You love to have my hand fly down until my palm rested on your face and I grab and shake your whole head back and forth.
You have all the rolls that your brother never developed and I’m working hard not to stereotype you as my chunky child.
You remain an easy baby -- despite the sleep challenges -- willing to entertain yourself in the crib or on the boppy or or under your play gym grabbing your guys for upwards of 15 mins.
A few friends with only one child have cautiously asked me if having 2 is a nightmare and I tell them honestly that it’s fine. It's difficult to describe how parenting is now both more complicated and more effort and somehow also easier. You let more things go. You have lower expectations. You let if be your whole life for now. You let the love fill you up and you cry because somedays that isn't enough. But most days it is.