Three nights now we've had a broken baby. I used to beam when people asked if she was sleeping through. 'She's 3 months and goes from about 9pm to about 6am' I'd say, thanking my lucky stars that we were through the newborn trials and established with a flexible but comforting routine. 'How often does she wake to eat?' they'd ask, and I'd look a little shame-faced and say 'she doesn't'.
But then a couple of weeks ago we went through a growth spurt and the constant eating throughout the day ran over into the night. Soon we were having dream feeds at 10.30pm and top up feeds at 4am. That was ok though, the real trouble started three nights ago, when she would. not. sleep.
Instead of putting her in her cot when she was drowsy, watching her suck her thumb and settle herself, we were suddenly rocking, jiggling, feeding her to sleep. We'd put her in her cot asleep and her eyes would snap open, followed by full on crying. Pick up, rock to sleep, put down, scream, pick up, rock to sleep, put down, scream... until we broke and brought her into bed with us. Exhaustion overcame worries about creating bad habits and I fed her to sleep. She slept. For a while...
I read up on it, and (re)discovered the joys of the four month sleep regression. I read stories from people whose experiences mirrored ours, I re-read explanations of the developmental growth that occurs around now and how all the extra brain activity interferes with sleeping, I passed on my newly-gleaned wisdom to anyone who would listen, excitedly chattering about sleep cycles and new, increased phases of light sleep, unlike newborn deep sleep.
I tore my hair out over naps that didn't last longer than 45 minutes, for days. The baby woke tired, rubbing her eyes and yawning, throwing our happy routine out of the window. She would only sleep in her pram or after being fed. She also changed from a happy sociable baby to a clingy misery. If I put her in her bouncy chair she would moan. Leaving the room provoked loud angry cries.
Yesterday, after a night of waking every 90 minutes. 90 MINUTES! she was so tired, she woke at from a nap at 11.30 and by 12.30, she was a wreck. I put her in her pram and walked her to sleep. At 1.45pm she woke and cried, but I pushed the pram back and forth a little and she got herself back to sleep. At 3pm I heard one sole cry, then nothing for another hour. I was so relieved that she had managed to get herself back to sleep, that all the hope came flooding back.
I fed her, winded her and put her on her play mat on her front. She pushed herself up with her hands, so her head was the furthest off the ground I've ever seen. Then she looked at me, tipped her head to the left and rolled onto her back. I was astounded. 'You clever girl!' I cried, and put her back on her front. She tipped her head to the right this time, and landed on her back again, beaming up at me like she knew she was as clever as they come.
Now I have evidence that what everyone else has been telling me is true, I believe again. The baby is not broken and has not forgotten how to sleep forever, but is working on new skills and has too much going on to be able to switch off. I believe that she will sleep again. I believe she will continue to roll, and stretch and touch her toes and I believe that life will get back into a routine. Until the next time.
Edited three days later to add: her sleep's still a mess, but Molly has now grabbed her feet for the first time too...