Category Archives: Sleep Deprivation

Whopper

Today has been a whopper of a day.  My sleep-deprived child woke up with fire coming out of his eyes, a steaming dragon.  Since 5:30 a.m., that child has been with us.  My sweet, compliant, snuggly boy has gone into hiding.

Could there have been a better night to try a new approach to sleep training?  I think the answer is yes, but we did it anyway.  We have allowed ourselves to become his sleep crutch.  He is a pain in the ass (chatting, singing, whispering, asking questions) for a LONG time.  Regardless of what we tell him, he flip-flops sides of his bed about twelve times, requesting a blanket adjustment and that his water cup be relocated to the new side.  He wants his back patted and his hand held.  And we, in desperation for some quiet at the end of a long day, have acquiesced.  I know we are responsible for digging the hole that we once again find ourselves in.  Regardless, it sucks.

It sucks to hear him crying for companionship.  It sucks to hear him sad about these changes.  It sucks that he isn’t one of those kids who came out of the womb asleep.  It just sucks.

-Betsy

PS.  If your kid is a good sleeper and can put himself to sleep unaided, please don’t comment on this post.  If you do, I will hunt you down and make my crazy-ass shih tzu move in to your house.  And, trust me, you don’t want that.

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Close Your Eyes

M is a bright child.  Yes, I realize most parents would say this about their own kids.  He has been potty trained since 20 months, knows his ABCs and the location of several states on a map.  He is curious and asks a lot of questions and doesn’t forget a thing.  He does not, however, know how to close his eyes when prompted.

We have this sweet book about various animals closing their eyes and going to sleep.  When it comes time for each animal to close its eyes, M contorts his face only reaching partial closer despite the tremendous effort.  His nose travels north, his cheeks follow suit actually causing his lower eyelids to migrate, more like when you are a little constipated or dropping stuff off at the landfill.

We have shown him 10,000 times how to relax one’s face and how to gently allow your upper lid to touch the lower.  It was quite comical for a long time, but now I have decided that is the reason he continues to take an hour to fall asleep.  If he could only learn to close his eyes, it would take ten minutes.  Ten lovely, calm, reflective minutes.  Instead, his inability to close his eyes has caused countless nights of chaos.

So, tomorrow we are going to practice again.  I will softly coax his eyelids together with the palm of my hand again and again until he gets it.  When he gets it (because he will), then he will go to bed easy…by 8:00…and sleep until 7:00…and not make a peep in between.

-Betsy

Things I am Grateful For

For the rest of this week, I want to talk about gratitude.  Today, I am grateful for a new baby monitor.  After two years of holding the cord just right (wrap it twice around the antenna, not too tight) in order to get power to the no longer portable monitor, time after time of shutting itself off in the middle of the night, bizarre freak outs where the volume would turn itself all the way up and not allow you to turn it down, and random power surges, help has arrived.

I got the cheapest video monitor at some big-box store (sometimes we like to watch him sleep, is that so wrong?) and I didn’t really even look at the box.  I got it home and plugged it in, waited the 12 hours for it to fully charge and then I saw it: a talk-back button.  Eureka! I’ll explain why.  I have a little pad set up on the floor of my boy’s room.  As the non-nursing mother, I have night duty.  My boy, at almost 2.5, would nurse all night long if we let him, so we just keep those boobs far away.  Now, I have a little pallet set up right beside his crib.  It is this short mattress that my legs hang off of, so I pull a large decorative pillow up to the end, wedge a nursing stool at the end of that to hold it in place, so that I have a place to put my feet.  I usually cover myself with a thin adult sized blanket, topped with his toddler-sized comforter.  When he begins to stir around 4 a.m., I will go lay on my pallet and do my best shushing, trying to keep him mostly asleep until at least 6:30.

Back to the talk-back button.  I can now TALK TO HIM FROM THE COMFORT OF MY BED!  I can press a little button and shush my little heart out without having to get up.  No cord wrangling.  No electronic ghosts in my room.  Thus, eureka!  Night one was a success.  I didn’t go into his room until after 7 a.m.  Life changing eureka!  I might actually be able to sleep more than 45 minutes at a time! Yeah!

-Betsy

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Last night, my terrible sleeper slept from 7:30pm until 6 a.m. OH MY MOTHER F***ING GOD!  Really!  He did that! For the first time in his life, my son slept through the night.  I know I shouldn’t be writing about this because I am sure to jinx us, but I couldn’t help myself.

The irony in all of this is that I have had more consolidated sleep the last two nights than I have had since he was born and I feel exhausted.  It is like my body now remembers what it is missing and it is pissed.  Last night I was asleep by 9.  Tonight, I am writing from my bed and it is not yet 8.

Tonight is night seven of sleeping training.  While I have been the trainer the previous six times we have attempted to trick our son into sleep, S seems to be the one in charge now and I like it!  I can sit back while she makes him cry.  Sometimes I put headphones on, just because I can.  That way, I can detach myself from his angst.  Tonight, after S moved further away form his bed as he attempted to put himself to sleep, he became very upset.  He was jumping in his crib and yelling for ‘Ima’.  After a couple minutes of hootin’ and hollerin’, he says, “I am very frustrated.”  My two-year old (just turned two, by the way) identified that he feels frustrated.

He is just about asleep now, if the damn squeaky door hinge would stop waking him.  Right now, I feel proud.  Proud of us as parents for listening to our son and to our guts all those other times we tried to sleep train and it felt like too much.  Proud of my baby who can tell us how he is feeling, in a full sentence no less.  Proud of myself for surviving up until now.  Just proud.

-Betsy

PS. Please remind me to grease that hinge tomorrow!

The Saga: Continued…

When I say ‘saga’, I am referring to the inability of my young son to sleep a reasonable amount.  We are back to sleep training.  This must be the eighth time.  And, once again, I am exhausted.  Now, he is going to sleep easy, but waking at 4, 4:30, 5, 5:30. HOLY SHIT!  Will it ever end?  I assume it will.  In the meantime, I hate everyone (especially aforementioned crappy little dog) and want to crawl into one of those sleep caverns that only happens when you are an adolescent.  You know, the ones where you wake up at 1:00 p.m. having to pee, then promptly get back in bed until just before the sun starts to set.  I think I am having a craving for adolescence.  THAT is how you know the delirium is starting to set in.

-Betsy

The Dawning of a New Era (or not at all)

Here is what I have decided: sleep will never come for my brilliant, lovely, creative, beautiful boy.  I know I have talked about this before, but now I really mean it.  We are in his third year of life and the illusive slumber continues.  Last night, for example, he only woke up four times before his bunny clock tells him he can get up at 6:15a.m.  And THAT was a good night, folks.  As his non-nursing mother, it has somehow become my job (and mine alone) to tend to his night time needs.  This is for fear he will melt down when denied access to the golden nectar that flows from his other mother’s breasts.  I am, once again, exhausted.

We have a space heater in his room because it is impossible to control the temperature any other way.  This means that we must remove all obstacles within a three foot radius of the heater.  So, we have taken to folding his rug back over itself to create a void for the heater.  What I discovered this morning is that this doubled over rug with rug pad makes a suitable cot for me.  All curled up on his floor, like our over-sized cat Chicken, I was almost able to drift off to sleep.  Once more I turned over hoping I could be a little more comfortable, only to snap to attention as the sticky pad used to keep the rug in place tore away from my pajamas loud enough to wake the dead.  Shocked was I when my boy remained silent in his crib.  Using his little stuffed chair as a pillow, I got cozy and grateful for this one free-pass.  “Mama.  Pat you.” I hear as I am seconds away from dreamland myself.  (Pardon my language here…)   “MOTHER FUCKER!” I screamed inside my head vowing to get rid of the sticky pad and allow the rug to go lawless and untamed.

So, I did.  Pat you, as he says.  Once I could be assured he was fully asleep again, I went back to our bedroom.  Denying the urge to slam the door and wake up my snoring other half, I eased it shut and slid back into bed.  S turned over, never leaving the rhythmic breathing: in-two-three, out-two-three.

The last few days when my son has gotten up for the day, he will tell his other mother that Mama came in and helped him in the night.  He will say, “Mama be there.  Pat you and M be quiet.”  I kind of love it, being the savior if only for a few minutes.  In the middle of the night, I want to be asleep and nothing more.  But in the daylight, I’ll take being the one he counts on when the sun goes down.

-Betsy

Birth Day

My baby was born 2 years ago today.  There was snow on the ground along with a little falling from the sky.  I can still see S’s breath heavy in the cold as we slowly made our way up and down the block.  Her labor was long, with a few roadblocks, but after a little coaxing, M made his entrance into the world in our bed at our home around 6:30 a.m.

It was a long night and I don’t do well with sleep-deprivation.  I know it sounds terrible as the one who did not have to push that enormous thing out of my lady-parts, but I was exhausted that day.  I first met my son in the wee hours of the morning, so bleary eyed I could hardly make out his tiny features in the dim light.

As he emerged from the great beyond, I scooped him up and placed him on his Ima’s belly, momentarily not quite sure of what had just happened.  He was perfect with his odd shaped head and tiny newborn cries.  Perfect.

And I was desperate for sleep.  I was so tired that when the midwives and the doula abandoned us a mere three hours later, a kind of delirium set in making it impossible for me to even think about sleeping.  Three days later and still relatively sleepless, my body started breaking down.  I had severe chills and couldn’t stop shaking.  It took a friend coming over and forcing a sleep-aid down my throat for me to succumb to the underlying desperation for dreamland.

Looking back, I wonder about those first few days.  It was like something primal washed over me.  I felt like sleeping would mean not protecting my woman and my son.  Sleep would mean I, regardless of the presence of other people, would not be making food or changing diapers or swaddling or helping S to the bathroom.  In other words, the world might have just fallen apart if I slept for 4 hours.

I think some of that stems from the undeniable fact (ask S) that I am a control freak, not being able to delegate responsibilities or ask for help without feeling even a little bit like a failure.  I also think some of that was about the tumult that happens when one’s identity shifts suddenly after 33 years.  I think my body was feeling the disequilibrium, the newness of our new configuration and it was freaking out.

I was looking at my son playing his new guitar today, feeling a little sleepy from the night before.  The difference between now and then is that there is no more tumult.  We are like flat water with gentle ripples rather than the pre-hurricane ocean we were that night.  There is extreme beauty in both places, but tonight I am tired and need the calm.

The past two years have been amazing and so, so hard on many levels.  My boy is…beautiful.  Though time could slow down a bit, I am excited for all the next steps to come (like sleeping through the night…like all the way through the night…Mama’s still tired.)

-Betsy