The 4-month sleep regression is the first real sleep regression in a baby's life, not to mention the regression you can really title a "regression" and not just the newborn learning curve. I remember that sleep regression vividly and somewhat painfully. I did not, by any means, deal with it gracefully (nor did my husband). And as it turns out, there are certain things you can only learn about your marriage after the 4-month sleep regression. Hey, you might as well learn them before you hit the 8-month sleep regression, the 11-month sleep regression and the 18-month sleep regression (and that's just before your kid turns 2). Ugh.
That first sleep regression is the most brutal of all of them. Most likely, you've just gotten your baby into some kind of sleep schedule and you might even be getting the most sleep you've been able to enjoy since your baby was born. Life is starting to feel downright manageable and then, bam. The 4-month sleep regression hits your house, and your marriage, like a ton of bricks. You finally start to see the end of the tunnel and all of a sudden someone shuts out the light.
I remember that 4-month sleep regression in a haze of panicked Googling. I also remember it as one of the most exhausting points in my marriage. My husband and I had started to work as a well-practiced team and someone moved the goal posts on us. It was rough, but we did learn more about our marriage during that (thankfully short) phase of our early parenting than at any point, before or after.
How Well You Communicate When Sleep Deprived
There's something so different about the 4-month sleep regression than the typical waking-up-all-the-time newborn months. You've had a taste of what your life could be like when you can actually sleep, and you're ready to hold onto it with all your might. So that new sleep deprivation somehow hurts more when you're several months into the parenting game.
My partner and I learned quickly that we still had some work to do when it came to communicating while sleep deprived. I found myself too exhausted to commit to full sentences, while he was a little short when overtired. Any bad communication habits certainly shine through when you're exhausted.
How Well You Can Function As A Team
By this point in our parenting adventure, my husband and I had become a pretty good team. We traded off night time wake-ups, and knew when the other was needing a break from the new daily list of to-do's. Thankfully, the 4-month sleep regression showed us how well we were doing as a team, and we already had a pretty good system of caring for each other while simultaneously caring for our daughter.
Which One Of You Needs More Sleep
It's fair to say you're probably both operating on a pretty serious sleep deficit at the moment, but in general, how much sleep do you really need to be able to function without being a total grump? That sleep regression confirmed every inkling I ever had when it came to the amount of sleep I absolutely need. I need eight hours to fully function, not when the adrenaline is pumping and there's a newborn around, but under normal circumstances. Between my husband and I, I'm the one who needs more sleep. Now, if only I could convince my husband to let me get those eight hours every night.
How Well They Can Pretend Sleep
I'm not going to lie, this was my trick. If I pretended to be asleep adequately enough, sometimes I could get my husband to get up with our daughter without wanting to disturb me. It was rare, but when it happened it was glorious.
How Well Their Negotiating Skills Are
There were some serious middle-of-the-night deals made in our household, usually involving exchanging diaper duty for getting up and dealing with the 4-month-old terror. I ended up with a few mornings to sleep in because my husband really hated getting up in the night.
How Much Is On Their Mind
How fast a person can get back to sleep after a baby wake-up call can be an interesting indicator of how much is on your partner's mind, aside from the regression at hand. There were nights when my husband would knock back out instantly after setting our daughter back to sleep, but there were nights when one or both of us would toss and turn. Inevitably, those nights were nights we had other things taking up brain space and keeping us from sleeping.
How Patient They Are
Everything about early parenting is a revelation about how much patience your partner or you have. That 4-month sleep regression taught me just how impatient I can be ,and just how stressed it can make me to have a problem resurface after feeling like you've tackled it. My husband, however, seemed equally unfazed by the recurring wake ups, grumbling a little but forgetting about it by morning.
How Long They Hold A Grudge
I am known to hold a grudge for being deprived of sleep. At least until my daughter coos at me or pokes me in the nose in the middle of the night, and then I manage to loosen my grip on the grudge. However, that sleep regression made me realize how long I can hold a grudge for having my sleep disrupted, and how quickly my husband manages to get over it.