You think the worst is over.
You got the kid home from the hospital, you (or your wife) managed to survive labor, you endured the first couple of months of constant wake-ups and middle of the night feedings, and you’ve finally reached the point where the kid is sleeping through the night.
You did it! Success! This baby stuff is a breeze! You start getting a little more sleep, and you finally start feeling like yourself again; you actually somehow start thinking about having another baby. After all, you can take two to three months of no sleep. It ain’t no thing!
I hate to break it to you, but if you have an easy baby who is sleeping through the night as early as 3 months, there are two major things you need to realize.
1. You’re one of the lucky ones!
If you are one of the lucky ones, here’s a little advice: Keep it to yourself. For one thing, no one likes a braggart. Also, having a baby who sleeps through the night phenomenally early is in no way a reflection of your parenting skills or your superior genetics. It just means you have an easy baby and you have been selected to bask in God’s supreme benevolence. You truly are #blessed.
For now. Because…
2. It won’t last.
I don’t care how easy your baby is, winter is coming. And by “winter” I mean hell, and by “hell” I mean sleep regression. My wife and I thought we’d aced the whole baby thing once, too. We cried it out and successfully trained our baby to stop annoying the shit out of us every night — and it worked. At some point, around three months, he stopped waking up every two hours expecting to be fed and suddenly everyone was sleeping for a solid six to eight hours straight. We had conquered the beast and we felt invincible.
Then he regressed — which wasn’t our fault, of course.
“Yes, it was totally our amazingness that yielded his previously perfect behavior, but when he started acting up it had nothing to do with us. In fact, I think he was actually possessed. Don’t blame me — babies are unpredictable, but my parenting is unimpeachable!”
Fist of all, I call bullshit and so will everyone else. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t take credit for one thing and then call “fluke!” on the rest. Again, no one likes a braggart, but everyone likes when a braggart receives their comeuppance.
Second of all, it happens. Whether it’s sleep regression or something else, it’s rare that even the most perfect parents with the most perfect baby escape infancy unscathed. Obstacles always arise. Sleep regression is one of the most frustrating of said obstacles. You thought you were done; you thought you’d survived the most “stereotypical for a reason, and that reason is because it’s 100% true” parenting horror, and it was going to be smooth sailing from there on out.
You were wrong on both counts and you’d best get used to it. There’s no such thing as a perfect easy baby, and there’s no perfect parenting technique that will stop you from having to weather a wide variety of storms.
When it comes to parenting, you’re never going to stop being wrong. In fact, there are so many ways to be wrong and so few ways to be right that when you do get something right, it is most likely luck. So, again: Keep it to yourself. The fact is, whether we’re talking specifically about sleep or more generally about behavior, the beast always awakens.
Brace yourself. The night is dark and full of terrors, and those terrors have nothing on a baby that’s teething.