Posted in Children, Mommyhood

I Miss Sleep

It’s probably the biggest complaint of any parent with small children: “I’m so tired!” If the small children are newly-born, sleep-regressing, or teething, it kind of catapults into: “I’m so freaking tired, I want to curl up in a ball and hide from life for the next decade.”

Yeah, you know what I mean. Just an FYI, I can’t guarantee the coherency of this post. Bear with me while I vent ramble blubber vent.

My cute little baby — sweet little Beanie — has been running a three-digit fever for the past few days. I suspect it’s from teething, but we’re quarantining, nonetheless, in case it’s something else. No other symptoms but the little spikes under his gums, mild stomach upset from gas, and inability to sleep through the night without significant help from Tylenol are presenting themselves.

But, let me tell you, I sure have plenty of bodily complaints to add to his list! My left elbow and wrist will never be the same, from hours of holding an arching, kicking, thirteen-pound infant and bouncing to get the gas bubbles out. My left foot is feeling the pressure of that extra 13-ish pounds. I get upper-back spasms and tight lower back, despite weekly-ish visits to a chiropractor. I’m irritable and seriously lack patience, because being awake from two AM to four-thirty AM every other night seriously messes with my already dwindling energy levels and brain function. ** TMI: Also, sore boobs, from trying to nurse a teething infant whose latch changes daily, and whose jaws clamp shut when he falls asleep. *wince* **

And the screaming . . . Not my screaming, mind you. The screaming at three AM, when I’m pretty sure he’s almost asleep enough to detach him (see “TMI” above) and put him to bed, but he wakes and arches and I have to start all over again for the fifth time — bouncing, walking, nursing, etc. Then, almost like clockwork, he passes out just about four AM, but I have to wait an extra ten minutes or so to make sure it’s FOR REAL this time.

I know there are countless parents out there who deal with this. I’m just complaining because, y’know, sometimes ya just gotta vent or you’ll explode. I don’t cry — I’m not a crier. I get frustrated and angry. I resent it about myself, then get depressed. If I don’t vent once in a while, I just bottle it up and carry it around with me. It causes anxiety and more depression — ’cause, seriously, why can’t I cope? Parents deal with this stuff all the time! Parents did it for generations before parenting books came out! Grr!

For reasons that really only make me look lazy and incompetent, Beanie is still in our bedroom. We have two bedrooms in this house, and, eventually, the boys will share one. For now, I LIKE that I can separate them for simultaneous nap and quiet time. Beanie goes to his bed in our room, and Pie has his whole room to play in for a couple hours. The two activities don’t always coincide, but when they do, you get a blog post! Hooray! Or I can choose from literally hundreds of activities of my own that will be put off to do the dishes or websurf. I’d nap, except I’m afraid I’d just be more tired later, when the nap turned out too short to make up for hours lost during the night.

Oops, rambling again. ANYway, Beanie is also a light sleeper. If Pie wakes up in the night (which isn’t often), Beanie is apt to wake up, too. And be LOUD about it. And insistent. (Maybe he’s a bit spoiled to nursing in the middle of the night, but he’s also still not eating solid food (and has been off the formula train lately), so I kind of have to feed him every time he asks.) And our house ECHOES like you wouldn’t believe, so to let him cry it out in OUR bedroom means neither me nor my husband sleeps, and my husband gets WAY crankier than I do if he doesn’t get a solid six to eight hours. To let him cry it out in Pie’s room means NONE of us sleep, because my husband is unconsciously geared to waking up with Pie while I take care of Beanie. It’s a lose-lose. So, I get up with Beanie when he wakes up, Pie sleeps on blissfully unaware in his own room, and Sweetie puts a pillow over his head and sleeps the deep sleep of the Daddy Who Has To Get Up For Work In X Hours. Beanie screams, and I . . . do a mother’s duty. Bounce, walk, nurse; lather, rinse, repeat; and maybe watch more Star Trek on Netflix — because I ran out of Castle on DVD, and Star Trek has subtitles so I can watch with the volume down low.

I should count my blessings, though. At least I can almost get another three or four hours of sleep before Pie wakes me (and Beanie) up the next morning, and then Beanie is ALMOST guaranteed to take a long nap. And the nights Beanie DOESN’T wake up, he’s apt to sleep nine to twelve hours, depending on bedtime and morning sleep disturbances. </Segue in 5…4…3…> I’m EXCEPTIONALLY THANKFUL I’m not this mom, who thinks it’s normal or okay for her two-and-a-half-year-old to wake her FOUR TO SEVEN TIMES a night to nurse!(!!)

Now, I have no problem with a mom wanting to nurse her toddler. I weaned Pie when he was fourteen months, and I probably won’t wean Beanie until I’m sure he’s eating enough solid food to make up for it. He might be two years old before I wean him. But I believe that’s my prerogative. I might throw in the towel early and trade my milk for raw cow’s milk and formula, because I’m so tired of being tied down and being the sole source of his nutrition in the middle of the night. I understand and sympathize with much of what that mom wrote about, and daytime nursing every three or four hours makes sense — that’s about Beanie’s average, too.

But, dang it, if my child’s not teething, gassy, sick, or soaked, I do NOT want to be waking up multiple times a night to nurse him. ESPECIALLY if he starts eating solid food like a normal child. Children that age should be sleeping through the night. Granted, I’m a lot more lenient with formula than I was with Pie, so I’m more likely to offer a bottle before bed at times Beanie’s more hungry so that he will last through the night; and I don’t always mind waking up just once to feed him, because he is pretty dinky and really does need the extra calories over a span of twelve hours.

But FOUR to SEVEN TIMES A NIGHT? Good grief! I’d be a raving lunatic, and it would have NOTHING to do with the idea that self-pity or guilt makes me more exhausted than just pure sleep deprivation. I just couldn’t do it! Waking up with Beanie means a two-minute trip to the bathroom so I’m not uncomfortable while nursing him, a two-minute or so diaper change, a walk to the living room and a settling into the couch, and a nursing session that may or may not actually result in a sleeping child at the end. Then, whenever he’s finally asleep again, a moment of touch-and-go where I lower him carefully back into his bed despite the muscle spasms, and crawl into my bed to try to go back to sleep. That’s at LEAST half an hour to forty-five minutes! Four to seven sessions like that a night, and I would be in a mental institution. It’s bad enough he doesn’t get to sleep till eleven some nights, and wakes at two and stays awake till four. I know that’s NOT normal, and I’ll do my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen every night, and it ENDS when he’s mostly done teething.

To be fair, she probably co-sleeps, which is something I cannot and will not do. Kudos to those who can successfully sleep with a wiggling baby between them, and good luck transitioning that baby to its own bed; but I cannot do it. I won’t even let the cat between my husband and me. Also, the last time I brought Beanie to bed to nurse because I was just too exhausted to stay awake, he bit and pulled and drew blood. I still shudder to think about it, so we don’t nurse in bed ANYmore.

To each parent his or her own, of course. If you’re fine with waking up every hour for a two-year-old to nurse, then, by all means. Most parents are thrilled when their four-month-old QUITS that habit after the four-month sleep-regression and starts sleeping through most of the night again. Excuse me if I look funny at any parent who doesn’t do their darnedest to teach their toddler how to sleep through the night without having to fill his or her belly every one or two hours, because that just looks like insanity to me. It’s insane enough having to stay up four hours out of every eight at night to bounce gas bubbles out of a one-year-old.

Hm, it appears this vent has turned into a rant, and I’m getting redundant and repeating myself. I’ll stop now. 🙂 And I can finally close that tab on my browser . . . But, more immediately, Beanie’s awake from his nap now and I hate typing one-handed. So, I’ll write again later, because there’s another article sticking in my craw. But I’ll wait till I’m a little more coherent for that one.

Author:

I'm the wife of one husband, the mother of two boys, and the keeper of a cranky cat and a neurotic dog. I am also a child of God, struggling with depression and trying to break the chains of tradition to achieve freedom in Christ. And I write and sing a little. :)