Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sleep Debt

When you are a college student, it's totally normal to stay up for 24 hours or more to cram for a final or write a few term papers, and then, in a heap of exhaustion, sleep for a day or two.

Parenting, my friends, is nothing like that.

Oh except for the staying up long hours part. Not the whole sleeping for a long time after part.

When #1 was a baby, he was a fuss. I remember reading about the "witching hour" that babies had before bed, but #1 fussed from 4- 11pm every night. Every. Night. It would be walking, patting, nursing, patting, walking, bouncing, rocking, nursing, patting, all the while, his mouth is open and just fuss crying. Never ending fuss crying.
And don't think I tried everything to make it stop. I gave up dairy. I gave up soy, corn, cruciferous vegetables, anything I read online that could possibly cause gas. Pretty soon I was eating next to nothing that resembled delicious or edible food, and he was still crying.
Your mind slips into an unhealthy place. You finally get him down after a certain rock-step combo in the hall, so the next night you keep trying it, thinking that was the sleepy time magic. Foolish you. The sleepy time magic was you wasting 5 or more hours and crying a half dozen times before the screaming midget decides to give up the ghost.
And then the topper- he refused to sleep for longer than 3 hour stretches. For 18 months.
That's impossible, you say.
No friend, that is very possible and exactly what happened.
At 8 every night I would be tucked in to bed next to the cosleeper, waiting for the next time #1 would pop his eyes open and demand to be fed. Do it quickly, and he might go right back to sleep. He slept right next to me so I could easily be awoken 6 times a night. The thought of having to roll out of bed and go to a separate room was enough to end me.
Luckily, I didn't have many friends during this period. There's something about being in the depths of misery- a self-created misery, mind you- that is very isolating.
Sort of like right now, but that's a different story.
I was so awash in sleep deprivation that I decided a second baby was a grand idea.  I think I had a few months of longer than 3 hour stretches of sleep, but luckily I didn't enjoy them as I was enormously pregnant. And also nursing up until 2 months before I gave birth (nursing while pregnant: it's very possible). And then you repeat the cycle with a second baby (although to be fair, #2 was so much sweeter temperament-wise- still had a witching hour though- no baby is perfect).
I took a job and worked evenings, and it only took a few weeks before my husband had them sleeping in their own rooms. Definitely a miracle. Granted, once again I didn't necessarily appreciate it, as I was working 60-80 hour weeks, getting home at 1 or 2 in the morning, and those sweet boys still woke up at 6-7 every morning.
The sleep doesn't happen now as much as it should. Some nights the boys aren't asleep until 9 or longer, depending how long #1 calls for me or plays around in his room. I NEED at least an hour to myself to unwind- dare I say I DESERVE it. So maybe 10 is the earliest I get to bed. I'm plagued by the "who is going to wake up in the middle of the night" fear, as it strikes when you least expect it. Some cries. Someone had a bad dream. A few weeks ago #1 had horrible leg cramps that had be sleeping next to him and googling furiously, worried that these were indicative of something beyond growing pains. As he writhed in pain, I definitely was not sleeping. The night before he asked to sleep with me as he was snuffy, and it turns out infected with hand foot mouth (again), so two nights in a row with minimal sleep. And we can all guess what happens after that- sickness. Oh it's not a hard pattern to predict. I'm still nursing a horrible night cough some 3 weeks later, and for 2 weeks me and the boys did nothing all day. We stayed home while it poured rain, and we played iPad and watched movies. It was very unproductive but man do viruses take it out of you. I only guessed at hand foot mouth by the sores in the back of my throat (and my husband's coworker's family caught it about 2 weeks later at the germ tree in the mall, and then my husband caught it last Friday).
You should go to bed earlier, you tell me. Yes, yes I should. There are a lot of things I should do.
I am so lazy.
Well maybe not in the traditional sense, since my house is crazy clean.
But I am so lazy. I want to sit and do nothing. I'm so sleep deprived and it doesn't appear to be getting better. I am getting SO much more sleep now than I did when #1 was a baby. It's fantastic. But it still isn't a full 9 hours. Man wouldn't 9 hours be great. I've convinced myself that if only I could get an hour or more of sleep I would be motivated. I would be super mom. I'd bake and do crafts. I'd write while the boys napped instead of laying down and fussing around on my phone. I'd write thank you notes and letters to my friends. I could research. I could read my Bible. But instead I see the end of lunch coming and I just say a silent prayer that they will nap and let me just be still.

I'm in serious sleep debt. There is no 18 hours of sleeping to try to recoup.
I guess there is only mental fortitude.
And today is a Wednesday folks. That Saturday looks mighty far away. And for you other stay at home parents, every day is a work day, so Saturday is a myth we tell ourselves.
Isn't parenting fun?

What are tips that motivate you? How do you get through sleepy days?

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