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.

Week 34: Memory Lapse

I know that the only reason women have more than one child is because they repress the discomforts of pregnancy and the pain of child birth.

But in all honestly, I do not think I was this bloody uncomfortable with any of my pregnancies.

I was awake most of the night Thursday night/Friday morning with back pain, cramping in my calves — that’s a totally new thing — and general anxiety. It sucked. Finally at 4 a.m., I went downstairs, kicked Dan off the couch, and watched a few episodes of Scrubs. After crying in frustration and exhaustion. I think I got another hour of sleep (from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m.).

I can parse out all the different reasons that I am feeling more physically disabled this time around: two kids, nearly 40 years, fourth pregnancy, one full-time job, etc. Plus the fact that I started this pregnancy in terrible shape. A word of advice: If you sprain your back, make sure you thoroughly and completely rehab it before deciding to get knocked up. I think my lack of core strength (or any strength) and my having had bailed on chiropractic visits because I found them too stressfully inconvenient to schedule (no, really) has been a huge factor this time around.

And I think I’m carrying Bud differently, too. Lower, for sure.

I’m seeing another chiropractor now, one close to my office for the ultimate in convenience and pain relief. She is an angel. I want to kiss her every time I am leaving her office. I am also trying to find room in my schedule for two pregnancy massages. I wish I had gotten one last Friday. I hurt from the middle of my back down to the tip of my toes all day long. I couldn’t find a comfortable position sitting, standing, or laying down — although I did manage a nap. I think I just passed out (and only for about 45 minutes) from pure exhaustion.

My new mantra is: The end is in sight. I just need to get this baby and my aching back across the finish line. Sleep can wait — it’ll be waiting a few more months, anyway.

Square One

I start off weekends with a lot of hopes and dreams.

For example:

I will finally get the girls’ fall clothes/next size clothes out and into their drawers.
I will put summer clothes away.
I will cull clothes for handing down and donating.
I will get the kitchen wall organized for the girls’ school calendars, including hooks for their backpacks.
I will decorate for fall/Halloween.

And so on.

By Sunday evening, I am utterly dispirited. Laundry has gotten done, and often I have managed to grocery shop, but other than that, I am no further ahead. Disorder reigns.

This weekend, I managed to cook a couple of meals, enough for meals through the week even (minestrone soup and veggie chili).

The upstairs is still a mess: no clothes have been sorted, culled, stored, or brought out of storage. Plus, the bathroom needs to be cleaned, as per usual. And sheets need to be changed, of course. We’re about a week behind on that. (I know: Ew.)

The paperwork that was on the kitchen table has simply been relocated. The kitchen floor has not been mopped. (I did manage to sweep.)

The only fall decorations are the “leaves” that Flora cut out of colored paper and taped on the window. There are four of them.

Kate was in rare form this weekend. She joined me in bed three early mornings in a row (usually between 2 and 5 a.m., and she kicked the crap out of my kidneys). She was HYPED UP. The girl could not sit still or keep her hands (or body) to herself. And she capped it off by pooping in her pants Sunday afternoon.

Dan and I did not get any time to ourselves together.

This Sunday, I added to the fun by having yet another meltdown, this time at my in-laws house, and pretty much over the fact that no one (in my family) listens to me. Not my 5-year-old, and certainly not my 3-year-old, and even sometimes my 41-year-old, who hears me, but sometimes decides he’s going to do whatever it is “later”.

I found myself on my couch, crying, and wishing for one day, one 24-hour period, to be by myself. (I think this is the root of my problem lately. That and being 30 weeks pregnant and hormonal and tired.)

And, that, ladies and gents, is really what I want. I want Dan to take the kids for a day, and leave me at home by myself. I know that 24-hours is probably too long to hope for, but 8 hours? Four hours? That seems reasonable (to me). (Note, for the benefit of my husband: he worked seven days this week, including two marathon billing sessions. And had a friend in visiting from Seattle. Which means I was POD for most of the weekend, but money will be coming in from his private practice. And it’s always good to see J.)

I have also reconciled myself to the fact that I am always going to be tired because I am not getting enough sleep. My days of “enough sleep” are over. Done. Kaput.

I know, it took me a whole five years to figure this out. I’m brilliant.

Also, I’m so tired, that I don’t remember if I came to this conclusion last night (folding laundry and discovering that our DVD player bit the dust — right in the middle of our Season 1 True Blood viewing); this morning at 5:14 a.m. (when Kate came to my bed); or this morning around 6:30 a.m. in the shower.

Which basically means that even with four or eight (or, dream on, 24) hours wholly to myself, I would probably still not get anything done. Because I would be asleep.

Random Thoughts: Bun

I am having a difficult time with Bun these days. My husband refers to her as a Tonka truck, which isn’t too far off the mark. As I emailed an old friend the other day: “When Bun is being sweet, she is the sweetest thing around.

“And when she’s having the ‘terrible 2s’ (at 22 months, mind you), she’s a holy terror.”

Here’s what I find most discouraging. I discovered with Monkey that age 2, while challenging, is not nearly as challenging as age 3. Something about the ability to speak in complete sentences made 3 more difficult for me, personally. It was the unending queries and talking and saying things over and over and over.

I can already see that 4 is going to have its pitfalls too. Looks from here like Monkey is going to keep push, push, pushing boundaries.

But back to Bun: I don’t know if I am “mis”remembering Monkey at 2, or if it was a little easier for any variety of reasons: she was the only child at the time; I wasn’t working full-time; their temperaments and personalities are different. I suspect it was just easier at the time.

Bun has one speed: run.

She does not sit still. Not even to eat. She stuffs food into her mouth as fast as she can, and wants OUT OUT OUT. She can use utensils, but finds them too slow a food delivery method. She would take it upon herself to jump out of her highchair if I tried to leave her there so Monkey and I could eat in peace.

She bumps into things. Usually with her head. She gave herself a black eye last night!

She jumps. “I juppin, mama. Jup! Jup! Jup!”

The most difficult behavior of all? She does not leave her big sister alone. Not only does she want to do anything her big sister is doing, if her big sister is not doing anything, then she must pounce on her. Bun leaps on Monkey, sits on her, pulls her hair. If Bun is playing with a toy, and Monkey comes over to see what she is doing, Bun pushes or hits. If Monkey is peacefully watching television, Bun turns it off.

Bun is definitely going for the reaction. The reaction is hysterical to Bun, whether it’s Monkey screaming or Mommy coming over to pry Bun’s fingers out of Monkey’s hair.

Short of keeping them in separate rooms at all times, I am not sure what to do. She’s too young to understand time-outs (although I am trying them). In the evenings, after her speed eating sessions, Bun wants to climb all over me while I’m trying to eat, or grabs at stuff on Monkey’s plate. Monkey is getting to the point that she can occupy herself for stretches of time, whether with play-doh or her new laptop. (Yes, my 4-year-old got a VTech Laptop for her birthday, from Nonna and Pap-pap. I could see DearDR thinking, as she was opening it, “Dude, I don’t even have a laptop.”) I have to occupy Bun, and even when I do, she’s good for about 10 minutes, before she’s all “Fwora? Fwora?”

I am surprised (and grateful) that Monkey hasn’t hauled off and smacked her a good one. But she doesn’t retaliate; she just screams until I come to the rescue.

Although the other day as I was giving Bun her bath, I noticed a bite mark on her shoulder.

“Monkey, did you bite Bun?”
“No.”
“Monkey, did you bite Bun?”
“No.”
“Monkey, who bit Bun?”
“Uh, I think it was Niece. Yeah, Niece bit Bun.”
“Monkey, don’t lie to me. Did you bite Bun?”
“Well, yeah.”

****************************

As I mentioned, when Bun isn’t terrorizing me or her sister, she is about the sweetest, happiest child you could encounter. And she is funny.

The other day, after I picked her up from DCL and was driving to pick Monkey up, she was babbling away in her seat.

“Mama, toot.”
“Mama, toot.”
“Bun are you tooting?”

Toot is our polite word for breaking wind. Bun often calls her burps toots.

“Mama, toot.”
Then she pretended to burp. “Burrrrrrp!”
I cracked up.

“Bun! Burps come out your mouth; toots come out your bum!”

“No, mama! Toot! Burrrrrp.”

We laughed all way down to pick up Monkey.

When Monkey plays with Play-doh, I give Bun some, too, in her high chair. The other day I gave her green. She squished it all around for awhile, then announced, “Tuttle. Look, tuttle!” She “made” a turtle. That was pretty cute.

She also pretends to fall asleep (“Nap, mama!”) complete with pretend snores. And she loves tucking in her animals and dollies, and also kissing them and their boo-boos. She is actually a very empathetic child. She already knows “sad.”

“I ky, mama.” (I was crying, mama.)

“I sat, mama. I ky.” (I was sad, mommy, I cried.)

These are the moments I have to remember when I’m hauling her off her sister for the umpteenth time.

The other positive thing these days: Bun is done at 7:30 p.m. Stick a binky in her mouth, sing her a lullaby, and put her in bed. She’s out. That gives me another half an hour with Monkey, one-on-one.

Of course, about 10 minutes of that half hour are spent fighting with her about going to bed. Oh, well. At least she’s staying in one spot.