Category Archives: Book

Book Help: The 4-Month Sleep Regression

What do you want to say about the 4-month sleep regression, or the way 4-month-olds sleep, or are, or anything about being the parent of a 4-month-old?

Think nighttime AND naps. (Or "naps," I guess.)

The audience is you, back when you had a 4-month-old, at 3 am, wondering what was going on and how you could make things get better. What would you have wanted to know or to hear back then?

If you comment on this post you're giving me permission to use your comment in the book. Be sure to add how you want to be listed in the book, like "Magda, MI" or "Moxie," or "M.P., USA" or "Magda Pecseny, Ann Arbor, MI" (only with your name/handle isntead of mine, obviously).

First call for help on book: Mission statements

1. If anyone wants to see what I've been knitting, I wrote a post with pictures on Moxieville yesterday.

2. Thank you for all telling me to get a grip about the braces yesterday. I thought a lot about why I'm so worried about it, and this is what I arrived at: When I got braces put on (when I was 31), the pain and shock to my system of the whole thing spun me into depression for a week or so, and I had to struggle to get out of it (using all the tools I've learned over the years). I have depression, and I know it's possible that my son has it (it tends to go cross-gender) so I'm scared getting braces put on will throw him into depression. I am so grateful for my own depression, but hope my boys are spared. So.


And now my first call for help for the book:

I know we've talked a bit in the past about writing a mission statement for parenting. I did it when I was pregnant just because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and it ended up helping me focus on what really mattered. In the middle of those kind of crazy moments in which you can't really see the horizon of common sense, the mission statement kept me from going all weird.

I don't remember exactly what mine was at the time, but it included wanting my boys to be able to give and accept love and form healthy intimate relationships, do productive work that they get satisfaction from, and understand and use appropriate behavior.

Did any of your write mission statements? If you did, would you be willing to share either what they are, or how you went about writing them, or both?

If you share that means you're giving me permission to put them in the book. So also include exactly how you'd like to be billed. Something like "Magda, Michigan" or "Moxie" or "M.P., Ann Arbor, MI" or "Magda Pecsenye," or any other moniker you want.

If you don't want to give me permission to use it in the book, don't post it here. You can post it on yesterday's comment section if you feel like it, but just not on this comment section. Fair?

The Table of Contents

Wow. Thank you, everyone! What a lovely outpouring of support for writing my book. It makes me only slightly less terrified to post the Table of Contents.

There are going to be two different "tracks" in the book–the chronological "this is likely to happen now" track, and the topics for discussion track (including ideas about learning to make decisions as a parent as well as the stuff that crops up as you go along). I had thought of doing two separate sections, but then realized that I'm the kind of person who would just read the chronological section and miss out on the discussions, so maybe it would make more sense to put the discussions in when they're likely to happen, as intercalary chapters.

Here's the outline as it stands right now:


Chapter 1: We’re all in this together, separately

  • Discussion of the shock of new parents
  • Sources of support and protecting yourself from anti-support
  • Importance of finding your own method and assessing the usefulness of expert advice

Chapter 2: Problemsolving for Parents

  • What are your goals? Make a mission statement for parenting to help guide you through the decisionmaking process
  • Principle-based parenting vs. rules-based parenting
  • “Safe, respectful, and kind” concept
  • How to approach solving specific problems. LIFO approach, FIFO approach, TQM, or low-hanging fruit method.
  • Designing your own framework for decision-making in the moment

Chapter 3: Sleep, Crying, and Tension, aka Anti-Chaos Theory

  • Discussion of baby sleep and what’s realistic
  • Developmental spurts and when babies go through sleep regressions (references to Wonder Weeks and Bed Timing)
  • Tension Increasers/Tension Releasers Theory
  • Characteristics of Tension Increasers and how to handle them
  • Characteristics of Tension Releasers and how to handle them
  • Sleep prognosis

Chapter 4: Birth through 12 weeks

  • First days
  • Days and nights mixed up
  • Breastfeeding: When to get help
  • Three-week growth spurt
  • What do you do all day?
  • Six-week growth spurt
  • 6-8 weeks is the peak of crying
  • Maybe, finally, starting to settle into a routine
  • 3-month growth spurt
  • Back to work/not back to work

Chapter 5: Worry

  • Normal worry vs. unusual worry
  • Persistent thoughts
  • Worry as Defensive pessimism
  • Turn worry to your advantage

Chapter 6: Is it possible that you have PPD? Let’s find out.

  • Signs and symptoms of PPD (for moms and dads)
  • For people who have PPD, ways to get help now.
  • For people who don’t have PPD, ways to keep your system balanced so you’re less likely to get it.
  • Stories from people who came through PPD.

Chapter 7: Four months

  • Sleep regression!
  • Naps are ridiculous, but improving
  • Things are getting serious now
  • Chapter 8: Anger
  • Why anger now?
  • Who are you angry at?
  • Productive ways to channel your anger
  • Allowing yourself to be angry and allowing your child to be angry

Chapter 9: Friendship

  • How your pre-baby friendships may change, and the range of emotions associated with that
  • Why now is the easiest time to make friends since the first week of college
  • Making friends (for people who are going back to work)
  • Making friends (for people who will be staying home for awhile)
  • Maintaining parent friendships through different decisions
  • Don’t make weekends “family time”

Chapter 10: Six months

  • What is exactly is going on?
  • Sleep transition time: good, bad, or just different
  • Is your child flipping days and nights? Or feeding in weird ways?
  • What’s the new normal?

Chapter 11: Your body, yourself

  • Six months out, and your body still isn’t back to the way it was prepregnancy (probably).
  • What’s the prognosis?
  • Realistic standards, realistic expectations
  • Taking care of your physical health

Chapter 12: The linear notion of time, or what does not exist

  • The old normal
  • The new normal
  • Focus
  • Learning from this amorphous phase

Chapter 13: Nine months

  • Sleep regression
  • Independence/clingy phase
  • Increased fear

Chapter 14: Doubt, and who you are now

  • Why is nine months so hard for parents?
  • Finding where you are in the landscape
  • Reality check for your capacity right now
  • Realistic timeline for improvement

Chapter 15: One year

  • You all made it!
  • What happens at one year
  • Switching the way you feed your child (if you decide to do so at the one-year mark)
  • Beginnings of toddler behavior
  • 13-month sleep regression

Chapter 16: Love and sex

  • How loving your child affects loving your partner
  • Who you are as a romantic partner now
  • What about your needs?
  • Um, sex

Chapter 17: Young toddler

  • Constant busyness
  • Opposition
  • Exercise, the miracle cure
  • Not taking it personally

Chapter 18: Independence

  • The beginning of true independence
  • Side effects of independence
  • Food resistance
  • Communication goes both ways, sort of
  • Independence for you

Chapter 19: Sleep: Yours

  • Are you sleeping through the night?
  • How much of your sleep is related to your child’s sleep and how much of it is you?
  • Nutritional needs for better sleep
  • Other support for your own sleep

Chapter 20: 18 months

  • The worst sleep regression yet
  • Defiance
  • Food refusal times three
  • A huge period of growth combined with disequilibrium
  • Communication

Chapter 21: Anger, redux

  • Why toddlers can tap into your anger so effectively
  • Managing your anger
  • Thinking about this phase as practice for later phases
  • Perspective

Chapter 22: 21 months

  • New fluency and cheerfulness
  • Communication
  • Better sleep

Chapter 23: What’s next?

  • Figuring out what’s next for you now that your child is out of the baby and toddler stage
  • Who are you as a parent?
  • Are you satisfied with your family configuration and workload?
  • Making changes

Chapter 24: Two years

  • You made it—no longer parenting a baby
  • Strong separation anxiety phase
  • Maybe thinking about having another, or maybe not
  • Oh, and there’s another sleep regression from 24-27 months

Appendix: First, do no harm: Books you can read that won’t gaslight you, websites that won’t make you feel inadequate, and other resources

  • Book list
  • Website list
  • Other resources


What am I forgetting?

Some news, with the lede not buried

I'm writing a book.

A few weeks ago I announced on my Facebook page that I had written a book proposal for an Ask Moxie book and was looking for an agent. A bunch of people helped me by sending me recommendations, and I got a lot of feedback from those agents. It all seemed to consist of the message that my book looked interesting and unique and they wanted to read it, but wouldn't be able to sell it.

I was perplexed, until one very kind agent explained to me that she loved the book but no publisher would be able to buy it, because it didn't make financial sense for them to buy a book that wasn't controversial. Without all the press generated by making parents anxious or stirring up controversy in some other way, they just couldn't take a chance on publishing something that wasn't going to have guaranteed sales. So she thought it would be tough to find a publisher.

Then she told me she thought the book would sell on its own, and that I should self-publish, and she gave me some names of sites to start researching self-publishing. (And that's why I'm not revealing the name of that kind agent–I'm pretty sure she's not supposed to tell anyone to self-publish.)

When I read her email laying all that out, my first feeling was relief. So I pushed into that feeling and realized that I had been seriously uncomfortable with the traditional publisher process. For one thing, I don't think I'm an easy soundbite. "You are the best parent for your child" is a soundbite, but it's not the kind of soundbite that gets people all riled up, so it's not all that easily packaged. Plus, I'm not an easy media package myself–I'm not a credentialed expert in childrearing, and I still haven't figured out how to give Skype interviews very well, and I wear tank tops instead of sweater sets, and I have a really loud dorky laugh that can't seem to stay out of interviews.

And the concept for the book is really just the concept of this website: We have to learn how to make decisions as parents, and we can get good at learning how to make decisions and at making the decisions themselves, the more we do it. With that as the organizing concept, the rest of the book is talking about stuff that's likely to happen in the first few years, and a bunch of ways you could approach that stuff. Interspersed with that is discussions of the kind of things we've talked about here over the years, but that I haven't seen anywhere else–how becoming a parent can make you really angry, how friendships change, how to make parent friends, etc. I want the book to be a reality check for parents so they know that this IS serious and hard and that they can do it, and it's really really difficult to actually fail even if you feel defeated at any given moment.

But I don't think that concept, plus me, is a nice little media package. So I was afraid that the book would be committeed into something I didn't recognize and didn't want to write, and that I'd be given a makeover and forced to cut my hair and stop laughing and pretend I know about kids (when all I really know about is people) and that I have the answers and need to impart them to the world.

And then there was the whole "deceptive" angle. Remember back when I wasn't allowed to talk about how I was getting a divorce and I hid it from all of you for SEVENTEEN MONTHS and I didn't know if you would forgive me for not telling you and I was also in a lot of pain because I needed to talk about it with you and I couldn't? Well, aspects of the publishing process seemed a little too close to that:

1. I sign a contract and tell you "I'm writing a book!"
2. I write the book on my own without consulting you except for maybe a few updates on the writing process.
3. The book appears magically and I ask you to buy it.

I know that process isn't inherently deceptive, but it felt like it to me. The entire reason Ask Moxie has worked even one little bit for 6 1/2 years is that you let me write something, and I do, and then you tell me what you think of it, and add to it or contradict me. And you have relationships with each other, and know more about many things than I do. And then scared or bored or inadequate-feeling parents at 3 am read what we've all written and realize that it's eventually going to be ok. So the idea that I was going to write this book all by myself and then present it to you (and the 3 am readers) as a masterpiece seemed ludicrous and insulting. One of my core values in raising kids is informed consent, and this didn't seem like informed consent with you all, if that makes any sense.

I didn't want to do that. I wanted to write a book the same way I write Ask Moxie. With you. I write what it feels like everyone needs me to talk about, and then I ask you what you want to say about it, and that goes in the book, too, and we all get to keep wearing what we want to wear and laughing when we want to and asking questions that don't fit into a media kit.

So. I'm going to self-publish my book. I'm setting up an ambitious schedule, and want to publish it just before American Thanksgiving in November (both paperback and ebook), just in time for my seven year anniversary of writing Ask Moxie. I've been told it takes six months to write a book, which makes this schedule preposterous, but since I know what I want to write I know I can do it. But I'm asking for your help in these ways:

1. If you're the kind of person who prays or vibes or thinks good thoughts, please pray or vibe or think good thoughts for me in this project.

2. Watch for my updates and requests for opinions or info and put in your comments. You, whatever you have dealt with, whether it worked or not, have experience that can help other people. I'm going to ask for comments on specific topics (like the 3-week growth spurt, or teething, or whatever) and on what's helpful and not. The question I'm keeping in mind while writing is "What would have been most helpful to me to read when I needed it?":

3. I'm not doing Kickstarter or anything like that because I'm writing the book no matter what. But would it make sense to do some kind of presale package, with some kind of swag or bonus or something for preorders? Think about it, and I'll ask again later.

4. If you're buying stuff from Amazon already, click through here first so I get some coffee money out of it to fuel the process.

5. Get excited! In a "someone else has to type until her fingers bleed" kind of way.

On Friday I'll post my Table of Contents and ask for comments.