Wednesday, October 3, 2007

To sleep, perchance to dream

What happened? I used to sleep like a dream. Blissful slumber was mine for the taking. Reaching the REM state was assured nearly every night; I awoke feeling refreshed, ready to face the day, the world, whatever it may bring.

Then pregnancy happened. Pregnancy and I did not get along too well. Among unexplained aches and pains, itches, giant pillows, and snoring (yes, I snored while pregnant), sleep fell by the wayside. All the other moms I knew laughed knowingly when I told them this; they looked at each other with a wiseguy gleam in their eyes, and said, “Yes, I remember—that’s to get you used to going without sleep. Then it won’t be such a shock when the baby comes.” Okay, that’s fine. Logical. Makes perfect sense. And it was kind of true, at least for me; by the time the wailing infant was entrenched in our home, sleeping more than 2 or 3 hours at a time had already become a very infrequent occasion.

But—ahem—the kid is now 2 ½. No longer an infant. And yes, he’s sick with a stuffy nose/cold/fever thingie right now, so sleep is not easy to come by for anyone in the home. But STILL. The reason I’m so beat today isn’t because I didn’t get enough sleep last night. No, I am exhausted and cranky today because last night was just one more night in which I slept like crap. The sleep I used to take for granted has become rare and elusive.

It’s partly because of the boy. Even when I don’t think I am, I still find myself listening for him, especially right now when his normal breathing patterns have been replaced by wheezing, whining, generally blocked attempts to take air into his lungs. Did the vaporizer use all its water? Is he too warm? Too cold? Is he on the verge of falling out of bed? Is his nose finally running, thereby plastering mucus to his pillowcase or whatever area of sheet he’s pressed his little face against? Perhaps I should just check…

Honestly, though, I can’t even blame the kid entirely. It’s his presence, somehow, and the way it’s altered me forever. I can’t quite relax like I used to. And I seem to have lost the ability to turn off my brain. Women stink at this skill anyway, and breeding has definitely affected my turn-off mode: That mode no longer exists. Prayer helps, but even that can't shut me down entirely.

Will it improve? Doubtful. I’ve already heard the stories about how you worry more as kids grow older. About how you never stop listening for them, even after they’ve left home. Besides, by the time that happens, I’ll be physiologically primed to a) go menopausal if I haven’t already, and b) simply require less sleep because I’m getting older.

Nap, anyone? Oh, wait—that’ll just make it harder to fall asleep tonight.

Coffee, anyone?!


Tina said...

You summed up every one of my nights since October 28, 2000 (Alex's Birthday). And it only intensified when Natalie came along.........I couldn't have put it better myself!!!

Mel said...

so glad I'm not the only one suffering from deprivation. well, not glad, really, since I wouldn't wish this on anyone... but it makes me feel a little less alone in my situational insomnia. nice hearing from you, T!