Testing the Limits of Sleep Deprivation

(With apologies to ClumberKim, who coined that term long before I did.)

I’m there. At my limit. I’ve hit the wall, and I now I just stand leaning into it wondering if I am still and quiet enough I will fall asleep because even standing with my cheek pressed up against this theoretical smooth, cool wall and sleeping is preferable to dragging ass and tension headaches.

When a coworker pointed out this story about sleep-deprived new parents on NPR, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I probably opted for the former, albeit ruefully. Because, really, it’s just embarrassing to cry at work.

But when I popped awake at 1:30 last night I wasn’t laughing.

Michael has had his sleeping ups and downs, and last week was a lot of… up, in that he was up at night. Probably because of teething, probably because he’s getting ready for a big developmental leap — which on the third morning of 1:30 a.m. wake up calls I was thinking had better be LEARNING TO FLY because OMG TEH TIRED.

But Michael waking up because of teething or learning to fly or separation anxiety or whatever is to be expected. He’s (nearly, only) 9 months old.

What is harder — actually, two things that are harder: Popping awake for NO reason and not being able to pop back to sleep, and the 4-year-old having bad dreams and coming to bed with us. Which is now going on two weeks in a row.

My nights were looking like this: Go to bed at 10:30, be woken by Michael at 1:30 a.m., get him back to sleep by 2-2:30 a.m., be woken by Kate climbing in bed at 4 a.m., at which point getting back to sleep is a crap shoot. Although I was usually successful only because OMG TEH TIRED.

And now they are looking more like: wake up for no good reason, get invaded by the little person with bad dreams AND separation anxiety, and not be able to sleep because said little person snores, thrashes, and/or cries.

So again: I have to reclaim my bed. Which is hard to do when I’m worried that a certain 4-year-old is going to wake up the household with her crying, and when my husband — who likes sleep even more than I do if that is possible — just wants to keep going along the path of least resistance.

The path of least resistance isn’t working, not for me, not anymore, and the it’s showing in the rest of my life. Plus, Kate has become impervious to the bribe. What is the bribe of a new Zuzu Puppy in the face of bad dreams in the middle of the night and the warm bodies and protection of Mommy and Daddy.

Which, I see her point. But I still kind of want to lock my bedroom door, because, and I know I’ve said this: OMG TEH TIRED.

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7 thoughts on “Testing the Limits of Sleep Deprivation

  1. Oh man. I feel for you. There is nothing worse than that level of exhaustion where you can’t complete a thought and are afraid to ask if the big black bear in the corner is real or a hallucination (but you are too tired to really care either way). So sorry and I hope you find a solution soon. I’ve been beyond lucky in the sleep department with my kids – the first 6 months was brutal but then we all settled in to a nice routine. Now I can only blame insomnia.

    • Right, that’s the point of the NPR article, that the body gets so used to waking up in the night (for new mothers especially) that even when we don’t have to to take care of a newborn for example, we still do.

      Flora went through a brief phase of wanting to sleep with us (at about 2 1/2 to 3 years of age), that when Kate started (a little later) we didn’t think too much of it. But now she’s 4 and a half, and has made it a nightly habit lately. So now we ALL have to break it. 😦 Not looking forward to it.

  2. I hear ya lady! And it sucks with they double team you. Is there any possibility of you or your husband sleeping in Kate’s bed to help transition her back to her bed?

    • That’s exactly the next step, actually. Although I was so tired last night I didn’t even know she GOT in bed with us at some point in the night. I just woke up with her when the alarm went off. So there’s that.

  3. OMG, reading your post today I suddenly remembered this phase with my first. He would wake up at 2 or 3 and just be awake. For hours. It only lasted a few months, but zzzzzzzzzzzzzomg. And remembering this I remembered one particularly desperate night thinking that someday this would be over, in fact some day he would leave for college and I would be master of my sleep schedule. It seemed impossibly, unrealistically far away. And now he’s gone off to college. And it reminds me of the quote from Elizabeth Stone “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Good luck mommy. I know its so hard. Teh Tired, *shudder.* But you can do it!

  4. OMG TEH TIRED is a perfect way to describe this.

    I’ve been dealing with it for months, between D’s refusal to sleep in his own bed [nightmares, I’m sure] and then R waking up in the middle of the night for no good reason. I want to punch the monitor every time one of them even shifts in bed some nights.

    I especially hate when I just wake up for no good reason in the middle of the night because it’s almost as though I’m anticipating one of them waking up.

    • I know, I hate waking up and then thinking, “Why am I awake?” You lay there listening for the baby (or babies) and just waiting. And by the time you figure out there’s no reason to be awake, your brain is awake and trying to get THAT to go back to sleep is harder than getting the baby back to sleep!

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