True to the title: This blog post comes a few weeks late because we’ve been busy with a packed schedule of events in the U.S. and Canada! Not to mention, our little one is keeping us on our toes with her sudden bursts of action.
Michal and I had Sophia’s baptism, festivities related to two weddings (one in Detroit and one in Creemore, Ontario), three birthdays within immediate family (including my own) and several reunions with friends and family in the area as it is the first trip for me back home since moving to Seoul and obviously the first time many have met our daughter. (More on the blog later about our first home leave as a family.)
The jet lag that naturally comes with the 13-hour time zone difference, in addition to the fatigue of a 12-hour flight (Seoul to Detroit) with an infant combined for an initial exhausting adjustment period. But let’s not forget the fact that Sophia is going through her four-month sleep regression.
How do we cope with one of the most difficult sleep regressions and major developmental periods of an infant’s life?
Let me preface the rest of this blog post by saying: We have taken an alternative route that would cause anxiety for most, but it worked for us with our lifestyle as an expat family not wanting to miss out on any important event while home. (Can you say FOMO?) We went with the flow by letting baby set the feeding/sleeping schedule, while simultaneously instituting an upheaval of our daily routines.
This past month’s active travel and social schedule distracted ourselves from exhaustion as well as incorporated free baby-sitting and new stimulation for Sophia through the day. We haven’t spent more than four nights in a row in one place for the past three weeks! If this were the case with just me and Michal as primary care-givers, like our Bali vacation, the nomadic lifestyle would have been impossible. However, we’re surrounded by so many different family members and friends who have been dying to hold and play with her. Michal and I even fell asleep early at Sophia’s baptism reception/party while everyone entertained her and eventually put her to bed.
The dreaded four-month sleep regression hit us just when we were settling into a routine and feeling like we finally got a handle on parenting. We originally had split nighttime duty so that Michal bottle-fed pumped breast milk for her final feeding before longer sleep while I would go to bed early and then get up early to nurse her when she would wake up around 4 a.m. Sophia would then fall back asleep until right before Michal would leave for work and get her up and ready for the day in time for me to take over.
A lot happens at four months old to completely throw off prior routines:
- Sophia has learned to roll over from back to tummy easily but going from tummy to back is still difficult, which makes sleeping through the night almost impossible now as she wakes herself up every couple hours when she finds herself in an uncomfortable position she can’t get out of. We were so surprised when waking up the next day after our flight to see her on her stomach with wide eyes looking up at us.
- She is distracted by everything and everyone around her making it more difficult to nurse her. She will look at me with curiosity while I eat or drink (no more multi-tasking) but then she gets upset when she realizes she is hungry. I discovered the nursing cover is really more for her than me at this point!
- She has more motor control as she grabs with more ferocity and sometimes with intention. My hair has already been falling out in clumps due to hormonal changes with breastfeeding but now I must put my hair in a ponytail any time I’m holding or playing with her. She also will take out her pacifier but hasn’t quite mastered putting it back in her mouth when she wants it.
- She has exercised more vocal chords as she has seemed to be exploring what her voice can do. In the beginning of the fourth month, she made a funny sound by blowing through her lips. Now in the middle of the month, she seems to screech more and has started giggling at opportune times.
- She seemed to have started teething as she is drooling a lot and putting everything in her mouth including my hand, my chin, her hands and toys.
- She became super clingy with mom and dad for a short-lived period of time. While touring around Toronto after one wedding, we had been switching off carrying her in the Ergo. After my and Michal’s turns, our friend Pawel offered to carry her and she immediately cried when going to him. It was a definite change in behavior and temperament when just a week before she had been fine when being passed around so many times at her baptism that it was like playing hot potato. We joked that Pawel probably needed to shower more, but we’re certain Sophia just needed familiarity during the most “stormy period.” Check out the helpful Wonder Weeks app and book (suggested by my prenatal/mommy and baby yoga instructor) that describes all developmental leaps and how to interact with baby during them.
At this point, we’re in a more settled point of our home leave as we are residing at my parents’ house for longer and she is seeming to be less fussy. However, nighttime is still a struggle because I’m up solo with her as Michal has returned to Seoul before us for work. (More on how to handle long flights and drives with baby in a future blog post.)
If you have any advice for me on how to manage the four-month sleep regression, specifically with the tummy time troubles, please share!