Does the nightmare of sleep deprivation ever really fade?

standard April 1, 2009 6 responses

10pm – Little L wakes up coughing, coughing, coughing. She throws up all over her crib just as I arrive in the room.
10:30pm – I climb into my own bed after changing the sheets, washing the baby, dressing her in clean pajamas, and giving her an asthma treatment.
12am – Little L wakes up crying. I go comfort her, get her back to sleep, and go back to bed.
1am – Little L wakes up crying. I go comfort her, get her back to sleep, and go back to bed.
2am – C wakes up coughing, coughing, coughing. I go to her, give her some cough syrup. Go back to bed.
3am – C wakes up coughing, coughing, coughing. I kick M out of bed so he can give her some Albuterol.
3:30am – C is still coughing. I get out of bed and go give her some water.
4am – Little L wakes up crying. Her fever has spiked. I go comfort her and give her some Motrin. Stumble back to bed.
6:30am – Little L wakes up for the day. I go tell her to hush and go back to sleep.
6:50am – I give up and go get Little L. I bring her to bed with me in the hopes that she’ll let me snooze a bit. Silly mama. Instead I get poked and tickled until M gets out of the shower and rescues me.
7:40am – M leaves for work and both girls climb into bed with me. I cheat and do something I rarely allow myself to do, I turn on the TV and snooze while the girls watch the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einsteins.
8:30am – I give up on trying to sleep with little feet in my side and little fingers up my nose and in my mouth.

Little L has been very sweet both days she’s been home and if I’d been able to focus in the least I would have been able to do all the work I need to get done. But when you don’t get any sleep focus is the first thing to go. Wait. No. Patience is the first thing to go, focus is second.

Back when Little L tormented me nightly with multiple wake-ups and I had to suck it up and go to work and do my damnedest to focus and be coherent I had a coworker who always made a point of asking me if I’d gotten any sleep the night before. Of course back then I thought she was taunting me and I’d just look her in the eye to see if there was even a glimmer of a smirk hiding there before answering her unwavering gaze.
“No. No, I did not get any sleep last night.”
She’d shake her head and cluck, make some sympathetic noises and say something about how horrible that was and how hard it must be. And I would just look at her without blinking before finally shrugging because how do you explain Hell to someone who gets a full night’s sleep every night?

Sleep deprivation makes you feel dead and numb. It makes you not care about anything except just getting through the next hour and then the next one and then the one after that. If your sleep deprivation is caused by a child who doesn’t sleep you add a layer of fear to that. You’re exhausted and virtually catatonic and in theory you pine for your bed and sleep, but really you’re too scared to go to bed because you know that as soon as your head touches the pillow you’re going to pop right back up like a punching bag clown who gets hit over and over again, but never ever lies down.

Back when Little L was little there was no end in sight. We moved past months 5, 6, 7 and into months 10, 11, 12 without a single night of uninterrupted sleep. I never let myself hope, never let myself assume that I’d sleep. Miraculously at 16 months she just started sleeping through. First one night, then another, and another, until I realized it had been a month and I finally felt alive again. It’s been four months now. Four months of glorious sleep with a few excruciating reminders here and there of the nightmare that hasn’t quite yet faded from our minds.

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6 responses

  • My middle child did not sleep through the night reliably until he was 3 1/2. Now. I think he has been sleeping through every night for about 4 months now. I am blissfully sleeping every night and trying not to jinx myself…. I hope it keeps up!

    Lack of sleep is the worst torture in the world.

  • I had a friend who decided to have her second baby when her first was three. She figured since he STILL wasn’t sleeping through the night she might as well.

    I have a relative who still has her kids sleep with her. They are 5 and 10. Years. Can you imagine? And yes, there is a husband involved.

    She says she sleeps better knowing they’re safe with her in case of a fire or similar. (It’s not really “family bed” but it may as well be.)

    I don’t get it. When my son was small and sick, he would come to my room to sleep, we get through the rough spots (asthma), and then I’d go down the hall to his room to sleep with hopes he wouldn’t figure it out until the morning.

    Sleep is soooo essential.

  • Thank you Jessica because I forgot that this indeed could end – although 16 months seems like an eternity away (A is 3 months now). I sometimes wonder how it is that I can survive so long on so little sleep (around 4hrs a night at best), I miss sleep so badly….

  • I used to say when I was having a bad day due to sleep deprivation, or just a cranky baby…. “it’s just a phase, this too will pass” Even though in the moment you feel it will never end…it will pass. Hope tonight is better and that you and both kiddos sleep well.

  • My 4th child did not sleep through the night until 15 months. Thank goodness I had gone from a full-time job to a part-time job because I don’t think I could’ve functioned 5 days a week from 8-5. Of course, even though he’s been sleeping through for a while now, but with four kids, usually someone is disturbing my sleep at some point during the night.

  • As someone who is currently going through the hell of sleep deprivation i heart your post. My baby is 6 months and i look forward to the day he sleeps more than 2 hours at a time with glee

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