Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Tired oh tired, yes so very very tired

(stretches, rubs eyes, peers blearily at the screen)

Oh god, I am so very tired. I thought the days of sleep deprivation were mercifully behind us, but I fear not. I've been up since precicely 4:15 am. I know it is 4:15 because Simon has an atomic clock stashed under his crib somewhere and wakes up at EXACTLY the same time for days on end. These past days on end have started in the ungodly hours before dawn, at precisely 4:15. Not 4:13 or 4:16, mind you. Every single day this week, 4:15 am.

He's got this idea in his curly little head that when he wakes up at 4:15, he gets to go sleep with mummy, a myth perpetrated by mummy herself staggering around in the dark trying anything to make the baby go back to sleep for a little while longer. Some days the soother does the trick, some days the blanket does the trick, and some days only crawling into bed with mummy does the trick. How many of you are nodding along as I whine that once baby snuggles under the comforter he falls blissfully back to sleep, leaving mummy wide awake and grumbling in the gloaming? And no wonder I can't sleep - he's such a twitchy little sleeper. He grunts, he rolls, he hoots (there is no other word for it, he does in fact hoot) and he sticks his little feet in the middle of my back and kicks. He's worse than his father! And inevitably, just as I finally drift blissfully back to sleep, the clock strikes 5:45 and the radio clicks on and another day leaps out of the bushes and exposes itself to us.

I'm not one of those people who functions well when sleep deprived. I can quite clearly imagine all the little synapses in my brain letting go of each other, breaking connections and disrupting mental traffic, so information traveling along its usual neural network highway gets as backed up as the 401 on a long-weekend Friday rush hour. That's what my head feels like today - traffic congestion.

It's better than it was. I went for more than a year without getting more than two or three hours of sleep consecutively, and averaging five or six hours of sleep a night. I was chronically and constantly sleep deprived. And it was not pretty. What I remember most is thinking, "I'm off work for a year at almost my full salary, staying home with my two spectacularly terrific children - this should be the best year of my life and I'm completely miserable." And then I would feel guilty about being so miserable, when all I really needed was about 30% more sleep than I was getting.

I remember feeling such anger toward Simon when he woke up, when he woke me up, in the middle of the night. That part was scary. The sound of his cry would cause a violent release of adrenaline into my system, giving me that same nauseating rush you get after a bad scare, but three or four times a night, every time he woke up. I'd have to force myself to think of the "daytime" Simon, as I thought of it, the one who cooed and smiled and laughed, the one that I loved beyond reason, and not think of the nighttime Simon, my opponent and nemesis, who was not sleeping out of some form of infant spite. So many hours of silent and frustrated rage were spent in his room, rocking him endlessly in the darkness, while I wanted nothing more than to crawl back into bed and let somebody else be the one responsible for taking care of him. Dark nights indeed.

It seems like it happened to someone else. I've never admitted to the anger before, never wanted to acknowledge it, but I can see from this safe distance that it was entirely the sleep deprivation. I regret those dark nights, regret not being better equipped to deal with and overcome my own tiredness. But that's kind of like regretting the sky is blue, isn't it?

So today I am tired. Oh so very tired. But I have learned that I can function on a whole lot less sleep than I ever, in the time before children, would have given myself credit for.

Pass the coffee, wouldja please?