Sleep Deprivation: A Mother’s Journey to Insanity and Back

wordpressI would just like to start off by saying that I LOVE SLEEP: laying your head down on that soft pillow, curling up, and floating off to dream land.  I could sleep until noon, wake up, eat lunch, and go back and take a nap!  That is my idea of an amazing Sunday.  And the best part is that nothing could wake me up (alarms, phone calls, earthquakes!), NOTHING!

In 2008 that all changed.  Things would never be the same again:  I gave birth to my son.  The minute I saw his little face I was in love.  He was perfect.

We brought him home and he was so quiet and he loved to sleep.  He would take a nice long nap and I would take one right along side him!  This parenting stuff was easy.  I had it in the bag.  This would soon change and change rather quickly.  As soon as he became accustomed to the outside world he opened up his mouth and he let me know what he liked and what he didn’t like.  He did not like sleeping.

His naps became shorter and shorter and I began to wake up more and more at night.  He NEEDED me and  I could never let my boy cry.  Before I knew it my head was swimming in the morning when I woke up, after a night  of feeding him every 2 hours and laughing for no reason (sometimes crying for no reason).  By that point maternity leave was over and I was back to work.

Once I started work, napping was a thing of the past.  I mourned the loss.  Driving to work was extremely difficult for me, especially when I was fighting traffic.  I would feel my eyes start to close, snap my head up, slap my cheeks, and roll down the window (even during blizzards).  I would come home at the end of the day and realize I remembered nothing about what I did (a serious problem when you are working), but there was never time to think about why I was having trouble remembering.

I had become the dreaded mom-bie:  the dead walking among the living.  I was quiet at night, during the only time my husband and I had to socialize.  I would be sleeping on the couch by 9pm!  When I was awake you could hear me coming from a mile away, dragging my feet and moaning.  Not a pretty sight when you are walking through an aquarium or any other public place.  Sometimes I would see the haunted eyes of a fellow mom-bie and we would nod in understanding to each other.  Luckily, nothing lasts forever.

My son turned 1, 2, 3.  Each year was a slight improvement with sleeping, but I would never call him a great sleeper.  Waking up during the night became easier and easier.  My body slowly became used to the new schedule.  Long gone were the days where nothing could wake me up.  The slighlest sigh my son gave would have me popping my eyes open (just because he sighed didn’t mean I would run in and check on him, but it woke me up just the same).  I began to join the land of the living!  By 4 he began to sleep through the night.  It was a miracle!

Of course, by then, I was pregnant again and having trouble sleeping.  In 2012 I gave birth to another perfect boy.  We brought him home and he was so quiet and slept so much, but this time I was ready!

Once he became accustomed to the outside world he started to let me know what he liked and what he didn’t like!  But this time was different.  I knew what I was in for.  I can say  that this time I do not laugh hysterically during the middle of the night (ok, once I cried, but I am only human!).  I cannot nap at all because of my older son, but that is ok too.  I love them and these are the sacrafices you make when you have children.  When they ask me what I want for Mother’s Day I know what my answer will be:  To sleep in!

Here are a few things I learned through the years:

1. NEVER compare your experiences with other parents, because every child and parent is different.  Plus, parents LIE.  Not all, but certainly some.  When I hear a parent talk about how their children slept through the night, never needed a pacifier, potty trained by 6 months, and learned to read by 3 years old I am skeptical.  Do not always believe what you hear.

2. If you decide to have your baby sleep in the crib and they cry, it is much worse for you than it is for them!

3. If you do not have time to shower during the day and you are up at 2am there is nothing wrong with taking one then!  Being clean always makes you feel better.

4. If you are showing signs of sleep deprivation speak up!  Communicate with your friends and family and ask for help!

5. Driving while sleep deprived is just as dangerous as driving drunk!

Here are signs that you are suffering from sleep deprivation :

1. Inability to handle stress

2. Poor memory

3. Inability to concentrate

4. Increased appetite (ex. 2 am, I’m feeding the baby and eating a whole sleeve of girl scout cookies)

5. Vision problems

6. Poor decision-making

7. Diminished motor skills

8. Relationship troubles (not very easy for my husband and I to be close when I’m sleeping on the couch and he is in the bedroom!!)

9. Medical problems

10. Mood swings

Categories: Family

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