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Let’s talk about sleep

September 20, 2011

I’m tired. I’m tired all the time. And tense, easily irritated and jumpy.

My dad, bless his heart, noticed this major change in me when I moved home. He’d come home from work, grab a little snack, and say something motivating like “Let’s go for a bike ride. Physical exercise just really improves my mood and outlook.” No joke, that’s how he’d say it. I’m pretty sure it came directly from one of those pamphlets you can pick up in the back of a Church – I find such gems of wisdom in those. Quick pause while I Google the Catholic Church’s teachings on overcoming depression. Jokes aside, both my parents were a little relieved when I announced I was pregnant, depression is even more overwhelming.

I was sleeping a lot back then. Scratch that, I was napping a lot back then. The first trimester was the worst. I was never hungry, I went from uncomfortably full to starving in no less than 30 minutes; yet everything made me sick. The paradox was the same with sleep. During the day, I would fall asleep on accident and wake up fifteen or twenty minutes later, a pattern that continued all night. I actually fell asleep on a bus full of middle school kids on the way to dinner*, prompting my coworker to coyly ask if Delta had been in town that weekend. No. He’d been in town four weeks earlier.

Insert obvious joke about what happens to the sleeping after you get married. The moral: you stop getting it. At least at the frequency you were before. Then – somehow, the process here seems contradictory – you have a baby and you really stop getting it.

When I went back to work, Baby Girl seemed to fall into a pattern pretty easily, but I was still waking up with her every four hours. I put off sleep training because I could get more sleep if she was snuggling in bed with me than if she’d be left to cry it out. When Delta was on R&R, he couldn’t stand to let her cry, even when it was just a whimper. Since I wouldn’t let her in bed with us (I had my reasons), he would take her in the morning and let me go back to sleep.

This was the most romantic thing my husband could ever do for me. More romantic than the elaborate dates he used to plan, more romantic than random text messages with love song lyrics, more romantic than the love letters I could barely read because he’d written them after lights out. An extra two hours in bed was like weeklong luxury spa retreat. It’s amazing how your perspective changes when you’re used to running on a nap cycle.

Maybe she got used to being spoiled when she was sick. Maybe it’s her giant new tooth popping out of her little munchkin-sized** jaw. Maybe she’s picking up on the emotional roller coaster I’ve been on about the upcoming move. But Baby Girl is refusing to sleep in her own bed. This will be Week Two of a very loud hostage crisis. Say what you will about friendly vs. “enhanced” interrogation tactics (sorry, I had to), sleep deprivation works on me. Her little singing seahorse works, but it only sings for 3 minutes. By three a.m. I’m thinking, “three hours of sleep is better than nothing.” But it’s not much better, because she bites (really, in her sleep) and kicks and whimpers and needs to move just the right amount every twenty minutes. Rationally, I thought I had used to sleeping next to Delta, so I would get used to sleeping cocooned around a baby. No. Not the same.

When I was in college and Facebook was a baby, there was a group called “Sleep is the new Sex.” Its officers had creative roles like “Used to do it for fifteen hours in a row,” and “Once did it right in the middle of a lecture.” If I could invent my own now, it would be “Hasn’t gotten any in over a year.”

*Captain Obvious says: “It was loud.”

**If history does repeat itself, braces are going to be the least of her junior high problems.

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