Ah, sleep. Such a contentious topic in mommy circles. At the risk of jinxing things, I have to say that we have been very fortunate in the sleep department as far as my son goes. A few blips and regressions from time to time, but overall our little man likes his rest. That’s all I’ll say on the topic of baby sleep because I know not all new moms are as lucky and they may hunt me down and maim me out of sleep-deprived envy.
That’s not to say I’m not sleep-deprived, though. Hell no. I miss sleep like a dieter misses high fructose corn syrup. It’s just that my baby isn’t exactly the culprit.
Before I explain myself, know this: I am the poster child for the expression ‘early to bed, early to rise’. Much to my husband’s chagrin, I would much prefer to go to bed at 8pm than do things normal couples do in the evening. Um, I meant binge-watch Netflix shows, gutter brain. The more hours before midnight that I can sleep, the happier I am. And I have never had much trouble getting up early. 5am is not so bad, folks. At least, not when you’ve slept the 8-9 hours before it.
Needless to say, my entire world and way of doing things changed drastically the moment my son was born.
Gone are my long nights of hour upon hour of glorious, uninterrupted sleep. Also gone are my mornings of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, ready-to-take-on-the-world energy.
To fully appreciate what my nights are like now, you first need introduced to my cast of supporting characters:
My son: He’s four and a half months old. I do not fault him for his role in my sleep deprivation as he is too young to read the memo that clearly states he is not actually hungry at 4am when he routinely wakes me.
My husband: Like almost every other man on the planet, he snores.
Sometimes Often really, really loudly. Kudos to him though – he signed up for a sleep clinic and learned that he has sleep apnea. Pretty serious condition if left untreated, and anyone who snores regularly may have it. We’re waiting on the C-PAP machine which should then take hubby out of my sleep deprivation equation. Oh, and seriously improve his quality of life and possibly increase his lifespan!
My cat: Reef is 17 and a half years old, which is, like, 324 in cat years. He has some form of dementia which leaves him heartbreakingly confused most of the time. He is also totally deaf. When he finds himself in a confused moment – these usually happen during the night, but sometimes they happen in the middle of the day in the living room when he doesn’t realize I am sitting just behind him and then he nearly jumps out of his skin when I pat him – he does what I call ‘screameowing’. Imagine a cat literally screaming “meow”, over and over again. That’s what my furry guy does.
Whereas before my son was born I would go to bed at 9pm because I wanted to, now I go to bed at 9pm (sometimes 8pm) because I need to. If I’m lucky, I can make it until midnight before my motley crew of males begin to challenge my sleep…
Reef usually starts the show by screameowing his way up the stairs and onto our bed. I spend the next 10 minutes or so trying to direct him towards my side as he walks laps around my husband and me. I desperately want to avoid waking my
bear husband because once his first sleep cycle of the night is interrupted…eeek.
As many dogs and cats do, Reef chooses to lay between by legs, far enough up that I am basically unable to move once he settles in. But at some point I do need to move. Under no circumstance can I nudge Reef, though, for to nudge him is to risk waking him and then we’re in for more laps and screameowing. So, I did what I had to do: I perfected the horizontal hurdle.
Picture an actual hurdler, like this woman:
That’s pretty much how I look as I maneuver my legs around my confused and demented cat (except I’m in bed, not on a track, obvi).
Once Reef is settled, it’s only a matter of time before my husband starts his nightly cacophony. His snoring didn’t really bother me before we were parents, but that was back when I was able to get into a really deep sleep and stay there for lots of wonderful hours. Now I hover just below consciousness most of the night, so every little sound wakes me (and snoring ain’t a little sound, so…).
Now that I’m wide awake, my mind starts to get busy. I start wondering/worrying about when my son will wake, when my day will begin in earnest, what’s on my to do list, how long I can stay in this position before I need to hurdle my cat again. And then I get anxious that I am awake when I should be asleep! All these precious minutes passing me by. Of course, the more stressed I get about being awake, the less likely it becomes that I will be able to drift back to sleep.
At this point, my husband usually gets some shakes, jabs, pokes, or pinches to notify him that his built-in noise machine is interfering with my ability to sleep. He changes position and things get quiet again, and I repeat a little mantra over and over: ‘Be here now.’ It’s my version of counting sheep. Just be there in my bed, comfortable and warm, not already focusing on the rest of the night or the next day and what they may bring.
I might get lucky and drift off for a bit at this point.
Cue my son. Most nights I am up to feed him sometime between 3:30 and 4:45, even though I am highly suspicious of his need to eat at this point when he takes an 8oz bottle at bedtime. When I hear my son start to cry, I am jolted awake and my tightly-wound nerves enable me to pretty much bounce from horizontal to vertical in one swift move. Inevitably, I forget to hurdle Reef in this moment and he gets jostled and awakened.
I feed my son for 10-15 minutes and put him back down in his crib, and when I return to my bedroom, the whole routine starts anew. Screameowing and laps, snoring, overactive mind, etc etc etc.
Someday I’ll sleep well again, right? RIGHT???