Saturday, September 03, 2011

Nine month sleep regression 1, Parisienne 0

The nine month sleep regression is beating me.


And kicking me, too, while I'm there.

I don't remember that le Petit went through sleep regressions as an infant, at least not the classic ones at four and nine months. His sleep was miserable as a newborn and gradually improved throughout the first year. By the time he was two or three months old he was only waking up to nurse once or twice a night, and that remained pretty constant until he was a toddler. He occasionally would wake up for several hours in a row and throw a party for the entire family between two and five o'clock in the morning, which was its own kind of bleary-eyed hell. He was also very difficult to help fall asleep at night, and a terrible napper. But frequent wake-ups were not his thing past two months old. I'm sure a skim through the archives would provide more details, but frankly I'm too tired.

When I was pregnant the second time around, I worried about sleep. What would it be like when Mademoiselle arrived? I figured that chances are it would be better, but if it were as bad or worse, at least I'd be prepared. What I didn't count on was that it would be neither... just different. A new brand of exhaustion.

If my memory weren't compromised by lack of sleep, I could count on one hand the number of nights she's woken up less than twice. When sleep is good, she averages three wake ups; when sleep is bad, that slides to four or five. What has saved my sanity from the beginning is that she'll usually nurse briefly and fall right back asleep, so with her crib still next to our bed (no third bedroom in our apartment, and we don't want Mademoiselle to wake up le Petit), I barely have to open my own eyes. I suspect that my own sleep cycles are even more or less patterned on hers now, so I am less tired than you'd expect.

Enter the nine month sleep regression. Mademoiselle learns to crawl*, and then to pull up and cruise furniture, and suddenly sleep is so last month, already. Four wakes ups, minimum. More often than not I lose count. I find her awake two or three hours after I put her down for the night, upright in her crib, gripping the bars and screaming. She's obsessed with mobility and she's staging an uprising, demanding her rights or something -- what, exactly? Oh, yeah. Two syllables:


That's our cute word for lait, or mommy's milk. She can't say it yet, but she sure as hell knows what it means, and when she wakes at night she will accept no substitutes. We know because we've tried, most recently last week. On that fateful night, she woke up for the second time a half an hour after waking up for the first time, upon which I said something rude and handed her over to my husband. He tried to calm her down unsuccessfully while I pretended to sleep on the couch. By the time I intervened again, Mademoiselle was so wired that she wouldn't nurse down but instead wanted to sit up in our bed and clap her hands. She refused to go back into her crib without throwing a fit. I swear she would've started singing protest songs if she'd only had a guitar. After losing two hours in the middle of the night, we ultimately calmed her to sleep in our bed in between us, and in another hour, she was awake again.

Last night she woke up two and a half hours after I put her down, and then woke up roughly every hour after that. I was a mess this morning, barely rested after having cycled through strange dreams. Our apartment was stifling thanks to a late summer heat wave. Poor Mademoiselle had five new mosquito bites, a possible partial explanation for the miserable night we'd all had.

I was irritable all day today, snapping at my husband and le Petit for little or no reason, complaining, yelling. I'm coping -- barely -- by swearing loudly at things like household appliances and eating too much chocolate.

I don't know if I can or should try to "fix" anything. Mademoiselle will grow out of this. I'll head back to work in two weeks, and Mademoiselle will be starting partial days with the nanny on Tuesday. It will be hard enough for her soon without trying to nudge her into better sleep, even in the gentlest of ways. I guess all I can do is hang in there, knowing This Too Shall Pass, be thankful all day long my kids are healthy and happy, and post incoherent rants here and on Facebook.

And go off to sleep. Now. For an hour or two, at least.

* I realized that I didn't properly describe Mademoiselle's adorable method of crawling in a previous post. She advances her arms and then, with her left leg bent out to the side, propels herself forward by pushing with her left foot. She lets her right knee drag along the floor. She's gotten quite good at this, and stealthily heads off on her own to explore the apartment, so I've got to be fast these days. Which would be easier if I weren't so damn tired, but I digress.


Jac. said...

Oh hun! I feel your pain. DS did sleep regressions like that. It was rock bottom. It's why we did CIO with him even though I really don't believe in it. It worked, but I still feel bad (3+ years later). But the constant jolting awake all night long is so exhausting, and demoralizing. Hugs to you - whatever you decide to do will work out in the end. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if it didn't improve significantly once the nanny is on the scene.

Hugs to you.

Cloud said...

Oh, I don't know what to say other than hang in there. You'll get through, somehow.

The 9 month regression is when we started partial night cosleeping with Petunia. Also, when I finally figured out how to do that side-laying nursing position. This has quite possibly saved my sanity now that we're struggling through the 18-24 month separation anxiety phase.

I just keep telling myself that she'll sleep through eventually- after all, her sister did.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Jac and @Cloud -- thanks for your support and commiseration. It helps! I feel like I need to grit my teeth and hold on because I'll be going back to work so soon...

Anonymous said...

Bless your heart for writing this post!! I am nearing the end of Hour 4 of "Trying to Get the Little One to Sleep." He's finally asleep beside me in bed, not the crib as I'd hoped, and I thought I'd search the Internet for some ideas of what to do with this crazy 9 month sleep regression. I got more than I bargained for when I stumbled on to your post - you've helped me feel a little less alone and a little less like a failure for having a baby who does not want to slep anywhere except in my arms or in the bed between my husband and I. Thank you for that.

Parisienne Mais Presque said...

@Anonymous - Glad my experience helped you feel a bit better! With my first, every sleep or potty-related "failure" make me feel so crappy, I remember. Now with number 2 I'm way more laid back, not that I'm less annoyed, mind you! Just less likely to blame myself.

Now with something comes up with the kids, I ask myself "Is this going to be a problem in one year? Five years? Twenty years?" and if I mostly answer no, I don't worry so much. (Because in twenty years le Petit *will* be consistently eating with his fork, right?)

Bon courage, as we say... This too shall pass. And then one day you'll (mostly) miss when your child was so cute and cuddly and sleepless and needy.