We bragged too early. After giving birth, I returned to work when Aeris was four months old. She began sleeping for six hours straight through the night, out of the blue. I continued to read articles and check her developmental stages as new moms tend to do, but we never realized how lucky we were. Anytime family and friends inquired about sleep, we responded arrogantly that we slept well. Our daughter didn’t cry at all times of the night, she slept soundly and occasionally stirred when it was time to nurse.
It was a parent match made in heaven.
As the months flew by, six hours gradually turned to eight and finally, she was sleeping throughout the entire night. We slept peacefully. We had successfully stopped co-sleeping and there were no complaints in the sleep department. I didn’t feel exhausted and I reveled in the fact that I had a baby that slept through the night without reading any manuals or incorporating any sleep interventions.
Fast forward and our toddler continued her reign of good sleep until the r-word reared its ugly head. At approximately one in the morning, shrills came from our daughter’s room that sent us in panic. My husband raced to her room and returned minutes later with our teary-eyed girl. She had refused to go back down in her crib. It was too late to put up a fuss and sleep was waiting on the other line. We coaxed her back to sleep and agreed that she could stay a night in our bed. Less than twenty minutes later, she popped up and began crying again.
We were petrified. The thermometer had a normal temperature, she wasn’t hungry or thirsty. There weren’t any rashes, swollen areas, or bug bites. We racked our brains for the next two hours as she whined and eventually fell back asleep. The next morning was brutal but she woke up with a smile and as cheerful as ever. My fatigue faded because she was well and didn’t show any signs of illness. My husband and I chalked it up to nightmares and didn’t think twice.
Three sleepless nights later, we had shuffled up enough research to conclude that it was sleep regression.
Though it seemed to have an answer that was helpful, it was a hard truth. How? She had spent well over a year sleeping throughout the night and now this “regression” thing was lingering in our home. The next two weeks were a living hell. Every night between one and two a.m., she would wake up and cry intermittently for two hours. As new parents, this was our first rodeo. We sang songs, offered snacks, gave extra cuddles and read Goodnight Moon a million times. Nothing worked. My mom friends advised me that it would eventually go away. Things would get back to normal and we would sleep again. Now, I identified with the part of motherhood that called for sleepless nights and dragging days.
My co-workers and friends could see and hear the exhaustion on my face and in my voice. Every morning and night were a struggle to stay awake and not lose my temper. We fared as best as we could, and eventually, we made it out!
Occasionally, she stirs and my anxiety shoots through the roof. The thought of repeating those sleepless weeks is a hard pill to swallow. As for now, we have been reacquainted with sleep and I vow to never take it for granted again. Dear regression, we rescind your invitation.