The 4 Month Sleep Regression

[Baby Watch: Day 118]

I have not blogged in over two weeks. This is not because I am lazy or bored with the whole blogging thing. This is because I have been clinging to the very edges of sanity as the dreaded 4 Month Sleep Regression (aka “Baby Apocalypse”) has gripped our formerly lovely child. He is no longer Oliver, Lover of All Things Shiny. He has become Oliver, Destroyer of Worlds. The sleep regression is real, and it is the nightmarish hellscape that it was foretold to be.

It is as if naps, once a thing of beauty and delight, have somehow suddenly become the infant sleeping equivalent of an iron maiden (the medieval torture device, not the metal band). When putting Baby Oliver down for said naps, his screaming reaches decibels that shake the very foundation of both our house and our souls, a force that is the infant screaming equivalent of Iron Maiden (the metal band, not the medieval torture device).

3 hour naps have become 20 minute snoozes. 10 hours of uninterrupted nighttime sleep has become 6 hours of light slumbering, peppered with at least a half dozen fits of rage. Our swaddles cannot contain the boy. Our toys do not entertain the boy. Our formula does not sustain the boy. The lack of sleep has turned me into Reverend Jesse Jackson.

But the new sleeplessness could potentially be manageable, if not for being conjoined with the beginning stages of teething. Look, I’m not a monster; I understand that teething hurts. I understand that it can and should lead to many tears being shed. I am, however, befuddled at the spectacle that my child has become. We’ve all had a toothache. Is it really necessary to fling oneself repeatedly against any and all objects? Is that an advised pain management technique? Imagine if I stubbed my toe and, as treatment, ran headfirst into a wall while shrieking like a banshee. Why? WHY?

The entire Oliver Danny Mayhem Experience (trademark pending) eventually led us to the pediatrician where we were told that yes, in fact, he is teething. When Kristen asked if the teeth were close to poking through, the doctor replied, “Well, maybe a couple weeks . . . or months . . . who knows.”

And that’s when my head imploded. My ears caved into my brain, my face melted into a puddle on the floor, and I mercifully wailed, “What a world…what a world!” Months of this. MONTHS. Eye twitches are born from such things.

I have always been led to believe that teething, while awful, typically occurs in small(ish) doses. A few screaming days here, a few sleepless nights there, all of which interspersed with a normal happy-go-lucky-baby who cooks dinner and mows the lawn. (The lawn mowing thing should start soon, right?) And I thought teething didn’t happen for quite a while longer . . . like, when the kid is able to hold their own teething chew toy. Even dogs can do that. (Side note: Is it socially acceptable to use dog’s teething chew toys on babies? Asking for a friend.)

I was unaware that demonic possession teething would continue until I’m a grandfather and that my very existence would be defined by whether or not I can outlast a few impatient incisors. I’ve heard tiny baby bunnies belting out their death howls as neighborhood cats tortured them to within an inch of their lives in our yard, but Baby Oliver’s vocal misery puts even that to shame. (Side note: I may or may not have sprinted into the yard in an attempt to murder the intruder cat, and I may or may not have rescued the tiny baby bunny by creating a small bunny safe haven in our garage complete with carrots and a baby bunny bed, and I may or may not still have that bunny living happily in our yard to this day. I may or may not.)

So, couple the 4 month sleep regression with the teething, and you have a pretty solid start to the Baby Oliver March of a Million Tears. But it doesn’t end there. Because why would it? No, you can also add to that the 90 degree heat of the past week, and you’ve got a 95 degree nursery that is 100 percent unsuitable for any baby, even one with devilish tendencies. The only reasonable respite for Oliver is in our bedroom, which puts the entire emotional extravaganza precious few feet from my face as I “sleep.”

It’s all sunny side up in this household, I tell ya!

When you add it all up, you get frayed nerves and two weeks of no blogs. I’ve reduced my showering from daily to semi-weekly, my shaving from every couple of days (thanks Irish genes!) to only when I start looking like I own and operate a windowless white van, and my teeth brushing to “when my wife complains.” Our dinners have been assembled with all the culinary care of a college student running late for class, and the mailman’s awkward half-joke about the 3 foot weeds in our yard was the final straw that got me to put effort into landscaping.

Finally, lest I seem like the only one that is unhappy with the situation, let me leave you with a very incomplete list of things that have made Oliver devolve into crying hysterics in the past two weeks. And I swear, every single one of these are true.

    • My laughter
    • My indirect gaze
    • The smell of shrimp and lobster arrabbiata
    • A dangly necklace
    • A gunshot on TV in the movie Tombstone
    • Macklemore
    • Ice
    • Sitting
    • Piano keys (not the sound, but the feel of them)
    • Not being allowed to scratch his poo-covered genitals
    • Bed time
    • Being forced to wear clothes
    • The Spanish word for ‘apple’ – la manzana
    • A stuffed monkey (should be noted, this is his favorite thing in the world . . . most of the time)
    • Wind
    • Sneezes
    • The Jaws theme song
    • A raspberry on his belly (the obnoxious mouth blowing thing, not the fruit)
    • The sound of the microwave door closing
    • When he slipped out of his mother’s grip in the kiddie pool and was momentarily dunked underwater (okay, this one I understand)
    • When my wife sleepily tried to feed him a lidless bottle of cat deterrent spray instead of his bottle of breast milk (okay, I understand that one too)
    • Door frames (my wife has had a bad couple of weeks)
    • My Tony the Tiger impression
    • My Smokey the Bear impression
    • My impression of Oliver crying at my impressions of Tony the Tiger and Smokey the Bear
    • (And, of course) The love and affection of his doting parents. Makes him cry every time.

An exclusive look at Oliver, Master of Disaster:

2 Comments on The 4 Month Sleep Regression

  1. So I stumbled upon your blog from seeing a friend of mine like your blog post on FB. Anywho, teething sucks absolutely! I have two boys 6 1/2 & 4 and our darling daughter is almost 15months. She has been getting clusters of teeth at a time since 6mos old (when we moved internationally being a military family). My go to with all three of my kids has been Hyland’s teething tablets (found at Walmart or target or most drugstores). Then if she seems extra miserable (and the teething tablets don’t help) I give her a dose of infants Motrin. Last I checked she had nine teeth, with two more trying to come through. Anyways, I really hope the little guy gets less fussy
    so that everyone can catch up on sleep.
    (Sorry if you have already tried everything I just mentioned and he’s still fussy.)

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