The Madness of Motherhood: The 6th Week Growth Spurt

I find it ridiculous that this is an aspect of your new bundle of poop joy is rarely discussed. In fact, your child should come with a label as to the impending madness that will ensue 6 weeks from birth.

The Face of Belligerence 
I'm in my 11th month of motherhood now, but I can still remember how horrible the 6th (and 7th...and 8th) week was. If you thought the first month was bad, the 6th week will hit you like a ton of bricks. It is generally known that the milestones for growth spurts in the first year are (give or take a week or two):

  • 1 to 3 weeks
  • 6 to 8 weeks
  • 3 months
  • 4 months
  • 6 months, and 
  • 9 months

What characterises a growth spurt apart from your regular everything fussiness is that everything is taken up a notch. They eat more, they sleep less, they're clingier, and they're just all round more baby. Of course, one of the main signs of a growth spurt, as the name suggests, is that they're going to outgrow that cute little onesie you spent half your last paycheck on. Yes, we all do it. No need to be ashamed. The little shits have a way of smiling at you where you willingly hand over all your assets. It's the world's cutest heist.

The Constant Feeding
Just what is it about the 6th week that is so much worse than the rest? For me, it's that I was simply unprepared for it. No one told me it was coming, and I don't understand why. I was up for night's on end, feeding Megatron every half hour, playing with her through the night. She simply wouldn't sleep for more than 20-30 minutes at a stretch round the clock, and I was on the verge of a mental breakdown. At this point, even though I was supplementing with formula, I was still trying to breastfeed on demand and it made me think my milk had completely dried up which was devastating because I was on so much medication to actually get it flowing (another tale for another time).

What Else Does One Do When a Baby is Asleep on You?
Because babies grow so quickly in the first year (they are meant to triple their birth weight), it's at this point that they're revving up to up their intake. So what happens is that they feed practically constantly in a bid to up your milk supply. As we all know, it's a supply and demand business. Economic theory has nothing on a breastfeeding mother's knowledge of how the free market works!

At Least One of Us is Asleep
Essentially I was awake for almost two weeks. At this stage, I had just moved back home from my parents' place after just over a month in confinement, and Pinata was up for work at 5:30 am daily so I couldn't expect him to be up nights with me. I was basically all alone at home every single day with a child that wouldn't rest. She would sleep for 20 minutes to half an hour here or there, and MAYBE get a two hour stretch in around 11am, but other than that I was on call 24/7.

It was strange though because it was at this stage that she started wanting to play a little more, but I couldn't appreciate how adorable that was because I was just so sleep deprived. They speak of rose-tinted glasses, but what of motherhood eye bags? You want your child to grow and explore their environment, but you also just want them to go the fuck to sleep so that you don't die from sleep deprivation. And so I would be up nights in severe sleep deprivation trying to play with a babbling infant. It was surely quite a sight for Pinata to wake up to every morning.

Daddy's on Duty
It's at this point that had my first retraction of judgement. Prior to having Megatron, I was adamant not to co-sleep. I judged people who slept with their baby on the couch, and swore that would never be me. Lo and behold, that's exactly who I became. I know it's incredibly unsafe, especially under that level of sleep deprivation, but there was no other way. Megatron would only sleep on my chest, and while waiting for her to fall into a deep enough sleep so I could pop her into her playpen/cot, I would inevitably fall asleep as well. Let me put a caveat in here: I do not condone this as a measure for everyone, but we do what we have to. Further, I'm not someone who moves while asleep, so there was little chance of me rolling over and having her fall between the cushions.

Yes, They Do Sleep in Odd Positions
There were a couple of nights where there would be no sleep on her part for hours on end, and there was one night in particular where she was up from 11pm to 1am with me constantly rocking her. At 1pm, I called in reinforcements. I called my mum and told her I needed sleep, and she had to come and look after her for 2-3 hours. I didn't hear her come in or out, but she hung out for 3 hours watching us both sleep.
The Sleep of the Dead
The only thing that topped that? Somewhere between the 6th and 7th week, when she had finally gone down for a two hour stretch, the fire alarm in our building went off. I remember hearing it and deciding that not even impending death would pull me from my chance at slumber, and went back to sleep. She didn't wake up either, so like mother like daughter I suppose.

The Face that is Still Belligerent
But you know what? It's passed and things got better. If you're going through it right now, just remember that it's after this that you're verging on getting them sleep trained, so rejoice!