Leap 4: Deep exhale

Forest (31)(@dad.ish) married to Erin (30), dad to babygirl Sloane (17 weeks)
This leap is no joke

This leap is no joke

As a first time parent it was a real wake up call.  As you may have noticed, I’m writing about Leap 4 in the past tense.

We made it. We survived. It was not easy.  When Wonder Weeks reached out to me to do some blogging, I had mentioned that we were just on the cusp of moving into the 4th Leap.  I think I said something brave and casual like, Hey, it sounds like a lot of people struggle through Leap 4. Do you want me to journal my experience each day?

I received a polite response along the lines of, No, that’s ok. Why don’t you just report back when it’s done. I now picture everyone at WWHQ (Wonder Weeks Headquarters) having a big laugh at my expense. Get a load of this guy. He thinks he’ll be able to write every day during the 4th Leap, and then they all double over slapping their knees and rolling on the floor.

All of the warning signs were there, the parent testimonials online and in the book, talking about how long and arduous this leap can be.

Still, after weeks of a consistent sleep schedule and an angel of a baby, I was convinced we would slide through the leap unscathed.  This was not the case.

Sleep patterns changed

Almost immediately my daughter’s sleep patterns changed.

She was now waking up at 2am, 4am, 5am, and 6am.  Every night.  Not only was she awake, but our tried and true sleep solutions stopped working.

My dear wife definitely bore the majority of these restless hours, but after a week of this we were both back in sleep-deprivation hell. It felt like we regressed back to a newborn.

We questioned ourselves wondering where we went wrong. Should we have stopped swaddling her?  Did we not do a good enough job enforcing a bedtime?  Did a demon take over our darling?  It was a great reminder that our baby is always growing and changing.

Adjusting her schedule

We ended up adjusting her schedule. We’ve changed where she sleeps (adios Rock N’ Play) and we’ve also said goodbye to swaddling.

Aside from the dreaded startle reflex, we’ve found a new equilibrium and our sleep has gotten a lot better.  This is great for Mom and Dad, but it doesn’t explain the truly exciting thing about Leap 4, which was a huge leap in development for Sloane.

Likes and dislikes

Our little baby turned into a little human.  She’s developed her own personality.

She has toys she likes and toys she dislikes. She’s reaching for things she wants and putting anything she can into her mouth.  She likes to pet the dog and she absolutely loves it when mom and dad dance with her.

There are distinct things about her that feel so much more mature than where she was before this leap.  We recently were going for a family walk and our dog did a shake jingling his collar. Sloane had the biggest laugh about this. Because of her laugh, Erin and I laughed, and this caused Sloane to laugh more.  It was our first organic moment having fun as a family.  It was incredible and it took Leap 4 to make that happen.

If you’re getting ready for the 4th Leap, be warned that its going to test you.  If you’re in the 4th Leap, just keep powering through. You can do it. And if you’ve already gone through the 4th Leap, have fun laughing with your baby. It’s the best thing.