5 months with Bea

Morning readers! Apologies for the lack of posts this week, I’ve had 2 and a half days of my internet being down for some unknown reason and Erin is having the same problem. Today it’s back, hurrah! So here’s an instalment of life with Bea for you all today. Thanks for bearing with me!

When I last wrote about life with Bea, things were pretty much rosy. We had just got back from Florida, I’d transitioned her into her cot in the day without any problems (Hello smug face). For about a week after we got back she was the perfect baby then bam! It all went south.

4 to 5 months was tricky. It was probably also the hardest time I’ve had with Bea. Before then, bad days had been just that, days, not weeks but in early December (around 19 weeks) something happened with her naps… er, what naps? For 5 days Bea napped steadily less and less. She had been having about 3 hours in the day and day by day she went from 2.5, then 2 then at the worst only 1.5hrs. Those with babies will be feeling my pain already, those without, let me just tell you there’s a very fine line between a very happy well rested baby and the cliff top drop over the edge into over tired, distressed angry screaming baby. Nuff said. After about 5 days she improved slightly and the nap times started to go up again. But they only made it to about 2 hours and that’s where they stayed for that month, on a good day.

It was really hard. Hard because there is nothing more soul destroying (for me anyway,) than pacing around rocking and shushing in a darkened room for 45 minutes trying to get a baby to sleep. You emerge shell shocked, only for them only to wake up 30 minutes later. It was heartbreaking watching her so desperate for sleep that she was banging her head onto my chest and crying with frustration. And hard because amongst all this I steadily beat myself up that I was creating bad habits (rocking her to sleep because it was the only thing I could do or feeding her to sleep,) poor sleep associations and emotional scars if I ever left her to cry for a few minutes to see if she would learn to sleep by herself. The latter was a particularly useless tactic as eventually I always caved and went back, only to rock her to sleep anyway; Cue more beating myself up for letting her cry and for reinforcing that if she cried she would get what she wants.

How do I feel about it now? Well, like I said in my end of the year post, a few days do not a bad habit form. Bea went from going down with no fuss, awake for at least 2 or 3 of her 3 or 4 naps a day, to needing rocking or feeding to sleep for every single one and guess what, for some unknown reason, she is now back to going down without fuss for most of her naps in the cot again. Every couple of days I would try and after a few weeks she just kind of got over whatever was wrong. I’m able to beat myself up less now, but it’s always better with the benefit of hindsight. For whatever reason, she needed me. I did a lot of reading in these weeks about sleep patterns, needs and training and whilst I didn’t try to ‘sleep train’ her, I did leave her to cry a couple of times – more frustrated shouting rather than real crying with tears, wondering if she would settle herself in the ‘ten minutes’ or whatever some sleep expert recommended. A couple of times she did, but more often she didn’t and it ended up feeling like a wasted episode of crying as we achieved nothing. I definitely know more about the likelihood that she will settle now though by listening to her different sounds. She does sometimes, shout, chatter or cry before she sleeps, but it’s more of a whinge and it’s part of her dropping off, as much as her sucking her fingers is.

And why did it happen? Who knows. Do we ever really understand babies behaviour? Some would say it was the ‘dreaded 4 month sleep regression‘. I don’t really believe in sleep regressions as I read a blog post and it makes much more sense to me that she was simply dropping a nap. After all, babies sleep requirements don’t change in a day and throughout this period she would have 3 or 4 naps a day, whereas now she generally has 3. I found that site really helpful with info about bedtimes too and ideal sleep requirements. It makes much more sense to me to work around her sleep patterns, noting how long she is awake before she needs a nap, rather than prescriptively saying she should be napping at X o’clock. I also wonder if it was all made worse by the fact I was busy (more reasons to feel bad… the 5 month picture we have below is also her ’21 week’ photo as for the first time ever I forgot to take her weekly photo 🙁 ) – things were worst at the beginning of December but the week before Christmas was also pretty bad, exacerbated by builders and tradespeople banging, ringing the door bell and generally taking my time up. There were times she was crying and they needed me to speak to them about something, and lots more times when I cursed them for being noisy and waking her from a much needed sleep. Or was it a wonder week leap? Who knows what it was all about, but it’s also over!

There were great things about 4-5 months too though. Bea learned to blow raspberries and bubbles, she’s laughing more and more and at 20 weeks she rolled over. In a classic moment, I returned from being out of the room to find her on her front when I had left her on her back.

Right now, we’re having a glorious 6th month and I’ll be back to tell you more about that soon. How are you getting on with your little ones? Does any of this sound familiar?!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS
4 months, 3 months, 2 months and the first month with Bea

3 months with Bea

Bea’s 3 month milestone has been and gone, and again so much has changed in a few short weeks. I write these posts for my own records but also as I imagine many of you will identify with the changes and perhaps have advice or stories you want to share, so please do pitch in in the comments box below.

This last month has been bittersweet for the first time. As Bea gets older she becomes so much more alert and more fun. Her smiles are consistent now and the beam I get in the mornings or when I get her up after a nap makes my heart burst. A few people have commented about the way she looks at me, describing it as ‘adoration’ and when she was younger I didn’t really get it, thinking she couldn’t love me back but recently it’s like there really is a bond between us, from her side too.

The bittersweet part is that already I see her stopping doing little things that she has grown out of. She used to make an ‘O’ with her mouth, almost a pucker, which I called ‘kissy lips’ and caused me to cover her in kisses, which she doesn’t do now. Her grasp reflex is gone and that gorgeous back arch and bum out thing babies do when you pick them up from deep sleep is so very rare now. However, now she holds my finger out of free will, calls out for my attention and seems to notice the whole world instead of things close to her. Sounds startle her and she looks to them, she follows me with her gaze out of the room and notices when I come back in, and has officially found her voice. Several times a day she really gets going with shouts and ahh’s and ooohh conversations which are so much fun.

Her sleep at night is still great and she has slept through every night since the beginning of last month, but other difficulties have emerged. Now she sucks her thumb to sooth herself, the car seat is becoming enemy #1 as she can’t get her arm round the wide infant straps to get her thumb into her mouth, leading me after a long journey in the back or the car with my finger in her mouth and other times when I was driving and couldn’t loan a finger, to resort to a dummy.

We seem to be floundering a bit with naps too at times… we had long episodes of crying around the 8-10 weeks mark in the day before she would nap and I realised fairly quickly I was totally missing her sleep cues, so she became overtired and couldn’t sleep. Once I got them and got her down* as soon as she showed signs of tiredness, everything got better and she would sleep within minutes. (*When I say get her down, she falls asleep in my arms 9 times out of 10, apart from the odd occasion I have put her down and turned back round to find her asleep, which never works when I purposely try it.) I used advice from the EASY routine to help me get to this point and she was sleeping for roughly an hour, after around an hours awake time, 4 times a day. More recently however things aren’t going as well, with her not sleeping until about 1.5hours after she last woke up and then she often wakes around 30-40 minutes into the nap but then seems ready for another short one soon after. I feel that we should be moving towards condensing these catnaps into a longer morning nap and 2 afternoon naps but I don’t know how to extend her nap times. I also know she is capable of putting herself to sleep if caught at the right point but can’t reliably put her down to sleep* by herself at all. (*With the exception of after her dream feed at night, when she goes to sleep herself as soon as the light goes out, if she wakes at all.)

Half of me thinks does it matter while she is small? and how sad I’ll be when she doesn’t fall asleep in my arms, but the other half is so frustrated at pacing the floor trying to get her off when she’s clearly over tired and my back is aching after a long day without Pete, that I wish we could improve things. Her napping is also the only time I have to get things done and I’ve realised those precious minutes make me feel so much better able to handle her when she’s awake too.

It’s a minor niggle though when she really is still the best. thing. ever. We go swimming to a baby swim class once a week and have started doing a mum and baby post-natal yoga class so we have classes 3 days a week now. The days we don’t can be hard, as they coincide with Pete being gone until 7 or 8pm – a very long time on an unsettled day, but they also let me get house jobs done and see friends or just do nothing. Which sometimes, is just what you need to do.

Have you got any advice on getting a good nap routine going with your little one? I was recommended the Ferber book, but at this stage I can’t justify letting her cry for even short periods or mentally square it with my personal comfort zone. What do you think readers?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

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