It's Very Late

It's 2:30am and I can't sleep.  Usually I just lay in bed and stay there even if I can't sleep but tonight I got up and turned on the computer.  I don't usually have a problem sleeping.  I usually have a problem waking up.  I hate mornings but that's an old post. 

I've always been one of those people who sleeps for a good 8-9 hours.  Even as a baby I was a good sleeper or so says my mom.  I don't know when it all changed but I think it was around the time I had babies.  Those babies never slept through the night until they were around 7months old.  And then even when they were sleeping through the night there were still all those nights when they were ill and didn't sleep.  There were a lot of those sick nights. 

I remember then the only thing I wanted was to sleep.  Sleep took everything away.  It was a refuge from a life that was not at all what I had hoped or planned it to be.  Most parents know that before kids you have these fantasies about being a parent and when you finally are a parent your child turns out to be almost nothing like your fantasy child.   You also turn out to be nothing like the parent you thought you'd be.  You let your kids sit and watch tv while you attempt to take a nap on the couch cause you just can't function with only a couple of uninterrupted sleep for 7 months in a row.

New parents find themselves doing things they had always looked down their noses at other parents who did the same thing.  You pretty quickly learn that it's all about survival.  That lack of sleep puts you on a totally different level.  Your daily intellectual functioning is pretty well impaired because of lack of sleep.  You can only get through one moment at a time.  And then finally when you think your children are sleeping through the night and you've got it all sussed up they get sick and it's back to only a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep a night.

I used to dread those illnesses.  I used to pray for sleep.  Really, I did.  I'd pray that my kids would sleep through the night and not get sick for at least another week.  I'd pray that the endless round of puking would end and not come back for at least another year.  It seemed as soon as we got over one illness another would pop up and off we'd go again with the endless nights of no sleep.  Finally they'd get better and settle back into a regular sleep pattern when boom we'd get hit with some other illness.  Most of the times my kids got sick with something they also puked.  If they got a cold it make them puke.  If they got a high temp my son would puke.  I had buckets placed in every room of the house to attempt to make the clean up easier for me.  I'm sure they'll both have nightmares about mom chasing them around the house with a bucket begging them to use it and not puke all over the carpet, or couch.

I remember one particularly difficult stomach bug where the couch had been vomited on a couple of times so that the cushions were still damp from washing.  The one chair we have in the living room had also been puked on and was wet from washing.  The carpet had several damp spots too.  I remember perching in one clean area of the carpet and hoping that the last few dry spots would stay dry until all the damp spots could dry so I'd have somewhere to sit. 

I also remember the time when we ran out of paper towels during a bout of illness.  It's not fun to try to clean up a puddle of vomit without something you can just toss in the garbage.  Finally my husband came home from work and I could buy some paper towels.  I got in the car and actually thought about driving away and not coming back.  I think I had post traumatic shock syndrome or something.  I was so sleep deprived and spending several days cooped up with two sick kids had wreaked havoc on my brain.

I love my kids beyond all reason but who would have ever thought that parenting involved such extreme sleep deprivation.  I've seen some mom's who say their babies sleep through the night at 6 weeks.  Some mom's have time to get up and have a shower, comb their hair and put on make-up.  I'm sure they wouldn't feel the same if they had got only a couple hours of sleep each night for over 7 months.  I'm sure they'd not look so good or behave like the perfect mom if their children were constantly waking them up all night for several years.

I really believe I have PTSS (post traumatic shock syndrome) from parenting with no sleep for a couple of years.  It really did a number on me.  Even when the kids did sleep through the night I was on edge so much I woke up at imagined cries and noises.  I just couldn't relax and fall asleep because I hadn't done it in so long my body had forgotten how.

So tonight I'm remembering all those late nights I spent cuddling a sick or crying baby or child and not sleeping.  I'm glad they grew out of that phase and now I only have a night or two a month where I can't sleep. 


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