Bone tired

Maybe He’s Teething? When Science and Sleep Deprivation Collide

Not to brag, but my husband and I seem to have an uncanny ability to make babies who don’t sleep. We don’t want to make anyone jealous, but our babies are professional not sleepers. We have high hopes that one day, in the throes of a fitful night of no sleep, they will find the cure for cancer, or maybe solve that whole world hunger problem. But for now, they just keep us awake while we rock, shush, sway and wonder WHAT THE F*CK IS GOING ON WITH OUR KIDS SO THAT THEY DON’T SLEEP?! YOU ARE SO TIRED! WHY WON’T YOU GO THE F*CK TO SLEEP?!

Okay, that came out a little on the intense side, but I’m feeling a little intense about how much sleep I’m not getting. I am also feeling a little intense about needing to find a solution pronto so that I stop aging faster than Mother Gothel from Tangled after Eugene gives Rapunzel her snazzy new ‘do.

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#SelfieSaturday!

I am not alone in my quest for golden slumber, as my exhausted husband is equally as desperate for some shut eye before he heads back to work next week. And just like when Baby 1.0 was a newborn, even knowing all she needed was time (19 months to be exact), we find ourselves frantically pacing around our living room, a fussy baby in one hand, and a freshly rejected pacifier in the other, wondering what we are doing wrong.

Because we are scientists (okay, I’m not a real scientist, but I once got a 104% on a biology test), we try to talk it out. We try to think through it. We try to be reasonable and rational, and above all else, scientific, because science doesn’t lie like assholes on the internet. And just like any good scientist, we start by asking questions. So many questions. Too many questions. Questions tumble out of our mouths like termites from a broken nest, wriggling around and making everyone edgy. Just this morning, my husband and I found ourselves in an all too familiar question spiral that pretty much went word for word like this:

WHY WON’T HE SLEEP AT NIGHT? Maybe he’s teething? Maybe he’s in a growth spurt? Maybe he’s too cold? Maybe he’s too hot? Maybe we should swaddle him? Maybe we should swaddle him with one arm out? Maybe we shouldn’t swaddle him? Maybe we should change his diaper more often? Maybe we shouldn’t change his diaper so much? Maybe we should hold him more during the day? Maybe we should be putting him down to nap by himself during the day? Maybe I’m feeding him too much? Maybe he’s hungry? Maybe we need to up our white noise game? Maybe it’s too noisy? Maybe I’m trying to put him down too soon in his sleep cycle? Maybe he needs to learn to fall asleep when he’s drowsy but awake? Maybe he has gas? Maybe this is normal? Maybe this isn’t normal? Maybe we should rearrange our room because maybe he will sleep better in that corner? Maybe we should Google it?

And I’m not even kidding, folks. This is *actually* how our conversation went. Sleep deprivation has turned us into crazy people.

Now a good scientist would pick one question, run an experiment to test the variable, and draw a conclusion that addressed their hypothesis. A good scientist would read the research, and trust that our baby, just like every other baby out there, will eventually learn to sleep. A good scientist would be patient, knowing results take time.

scientist

My scientific credibilities are about on par with what Bill Murray brings to the table.

But a good scientist, I am not.

I am a very tired, very irrational, very moody, very tired regular person who is very tired, and very desperate to find any kind of help that will give me even the tiniest chunk of sleep. So if you’ll excuse me, I am off to rearrange my room, order the latest swaddle sack off Amazon, feed the baby for 15-20 minutes on each side, burp him, rock him, assess his temperature, possibly change a diaper, turn on an appropriate amount of white noise, and attempt to put him down approximately 5 minutes after he enters deep sleep, which should be evident by slow breathing and floppy limbs…unless of course I decide to go the whole “drowsy but awake” route.

Yeah. Wish me luck.

Image credits: Mother Gothel, Bill Murray, cover image

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When Does This Get Easy?

Yesterday while walking home after picking my husband up from work, I was, to put it simply, wigging out. This week Baby 1.0 appears to have dropped her last remaining nap. Though each day we try, and try again, she just won’t fall asleep, and by 5 o’clock, we are both at our wits end. Nearly in tears, I explained to him how each step has been so hard for us, and I just have never felt like we were really getting it, if you get what I’m saying. This whole time we’ve been surviving, but I have never felt like we are thriving. With her deciding this week to drop her last remaining nap, yet again, I am left scrambling as I figure out how to manage this next developmental stage.

Today the frustrations again reared their ugly head after I lowered a sleeping child into her crib, just to watch her eyes pop open, and remain open. How stupid was I to think that for the first time this week, I would get to pee alone, and then eat a sandwich without someone screaming for me to draw another picture of a cat.

Now before you get all “It could be worse on me” trust me, I get it. The guilt of feeling frustrated and complaining that my healthy, wonderful child won’t sleep or eat when there are people with sick kids, or worse, no kids due to some tragic situation, makes me feel absolutely despicable. I should just be thankful I have a kid, right?

But for the love of all that’s holy, would it be too much to ask that the kid I have just eat a meal or two every day without me having to chase her around the house with 18 different options, and then, because she is tired and needs it, get a little sleep? It’s eating and sleeping, I’m asking for here, not the solution for the conflict in the Middle East.

So what do I do? What can I do, other than just put one frustrated foot in front of the other, and carry on as we always have, waiting for us to both settle into yet another new pattern. I’ve been through enough with Baby 1.0 to understand this is temporary, and in no time at all we will both adjust to 13 hours of awake toddler-time. But until then, all I want to do is cry, eat four chocolate croissants, and whine about it on a very public platform. When does this get easy?

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Proof that one time, she actually did nap.

Welcome to the Thunderdome: When The Bedroom Turns Into A Post-Apocalyptic War Zone

It had to happen. I knew at some point I’d break down and write about the “S” word, because the utter lack of it is a theme common to most (all?) new parents. It’s absence hovers over us, a constant grey cloud, reminding us of a time when things were much more simple, a time when it wasn’t so hard to obtain. For 16 months and 11 days I’ve waited patiently, obsessing over my desire for it. I’ve tried everything to bring it back into my life. I’ve read books, spent countless dollars on specialty clothing, purchased hours of tailor-made music designed to help set the mood. Recently I’ve taken to incorporating aromatherapy into the bedroom, out of sheer desperation to find something that works. Each night, I go through the same routine, hoping that this night, this one night, it will happen, because I need it. “Oh please, please little baby. Please just sleep.”

Truthfully, I’ve been on the fence about writing anything regarding sleep. When you are so sleep deprived it takes you 30 seconds to figure out which end of the shampoo bottle shampoo comes out of (true story), it is hard to put anything together that doesn’t just sound horribly whiny. Also, there are already people who have done it, and done it very well (for those of you who don’t already know the blog How To Survive A Sleep Thief, check out the post I’m referring to here; it is brilliantly funny, and perfectly sums up everything I wish I could say about living with a kid who doesn’t sleep, but can’t because it took me 30 seconds to figure out which end shampoo came out of).

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In case you were thinking, “maybe her shampoo bottle is confusing?” let me show you a picture of my shampoo. Not exactly a brain buster, under normal circumstances.

So what made me do it? Well, for starters, I’m delusional. With tiredness. Because the last time I slept through the night was back when the words “North West” and “One Direction” referred to parts of a map, rather than a bagillionaire toddler, and a handful of post-pubescent weasel boys ruining music. And lately, little Baby 1.0 has decided that getting up 2-3 times in the night wasn’t enough, and has increased it back up to 5 times. 5. Times. A. Night. Little reminder, she is 16 months. Being plunged back into the thick of what is essentially newborn level of sleep deprivation, I am reminded of a few things:

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Pick One Direction, and head that way, away from me, forever.

1. Removing regular sleep from your routine changes who you are on a fundamental level. For example, I turn into a crazy asshole when I don’t sleep. Like, seriously, a totally crazy asshole. Case and point? This morning, after another absolutely brutal night, I spent no less than 12 minutes hunting down a fruit fly who landed innocently on my arm, and when I finally got it, I smashed it with a smile on my face, like some kind of insect serial killer. Did I have to invest 12 minutes of time in hunting down a solitary fruit fly? No. Did I have to smile when I killed it? Big time no. But No-Sleep-Emily is currently the captain of this ship, and she is a scary asshole.

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This is me, the morning after another sleepless night.

2. When I don’t sleep, my mind turns into a garbage disposal of thoughts which A) immobilize me, preventing me from completing any kind of task,  further perpetuating my garbage disposal tendencies, and B) keeps me from falling back asleep. Usually, somewhere around 3am after Baby 1.0 wakes up for the umpteenth time, my mind does this: I need to go to the store and get dinner food. We need to eat healthier. I need to buy more vegetables. I need to buy organic. Organic is too expensive. I need to get a job. I don’t want to have someone raise Baby 1.0. I need to socialize Baby 1.0 more. I NEED TO STOP THIS. I will count until I fall asleep. 1, 2, 3, 13, purple, I need to email every single person I know, urgently. I need to clean out my email inbox. I need to vacuum. I need to clean out the litter box. I need to order cat litter. I need to order cat food… AND IT GOES ON AND ON.

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This is my brain at 3am.

3. Being horribly, hideously, sleep deprived makes me feel like I have the worst hangover of my life, but nothing makes it go away. Well I can’t say nothing, because I have a sneaking suspicion a couple of vodka tonics would do the trick, but I haven’t entered that territory since my bachelorette party where I peed (basically) in the doorway of a Walgreen’s, while leaning up against a newspaper box. My head aches, my eyes burn, my muscles are weak, my stomach hurts. I can’t help but wonder if hardcore sleep deprivation is used against spies and terrorists to break their spirit. Let me just say, I would tell someone anything they wanted to know if that meant I could start sleeping through the night again. Update: just this morning there was a news story about how the CIA used sleep deprivation against suspected terrorists. I’m not condoning torture in any way, even though I am being tortured, and misery loves company.

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This would work… but probably not a sustainable solution.

4. I hate nighttime. The more sleep deprived I get, the more I dread going to bed. It’s one thing to bump along during the day, feeling crappy, but having things to distract you from the crappiness, and another to be forced out of bed for hours of the night trying, in vain, to convince another human to do something they have no interest in doing. It is frustrating on a level I still can’t wrap my head around, and more depressing than watching one of those science programs that always shows the baby deer being hunted by a wolf. Stop with that. We get it. Wolves eat baby deer.

deer

Stupidly, very stupidly, I just googled “wolves hunting deer.” Bambi with a butterfly on his butt is better.

5. Lastly, this has served as a reminder that this is hard. This is hard, man. Not always, but sometimes, and sometimes for long chunks of time. It is hard to be patient and kind when you feel like a rabid raccoon. It is hard to be empathetic and understanding when all you can think about is the burning behind your eyes, and the heaviness in your limbs. Forget being the perfect mom. When you are bone tired, it’s all you can do to remember to put on two shoes that maybe match. So the next time some little turd kid rips a toy out of my little dumpling’s hand, and their mom just stares blankly ahead, I will try to give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she’s just tired. I get that.


Image credits: Cover, ShampooOne Direction, Joker, List, DrunkBambi