Friday, March 12, 2010

The Sleep Wars: Baby vs. Momma

I constantly allude to my chronic exhaustion. Because I think about sleep the way a fifteen-year-old guy thinks about boobies. You know the movie "Up" and the dog who is always having Tourette's-like moments where he's all: "Squirrel?!" That's me. But with sleep.  Except that sleep for me is like unicorns and fairy dust.  I would dream about sleep if ever I could . . . sleep.

I am obsessed with my bed because I never sleep in it. I am so tired that even my new fancy make-up can't fix the deep black circles under my eyes. Some mornings, I look like in the mirror to see a scary hybid between a racoon and the Emperor from Star Wars.  I feel groggy and hung-over even when no wine was consumed. I get horrifically angry at my handsome, far-too-good-for me, incredibly hard-working husband every time he utters the words: "I'm so tired." I undergo a magical tranformation into a bad witch. Actually, what happens is I get my B on. The catalyst is my husband's evil words. The conversation goes like this:

8:51 pm - husband comes home from work after a 14 hour day.
Cap'n: Hi sweetie. Sorry I'm so late. What's for dinner? It smells really good. I'm starving because I worked through lunch.
Lydia: Stuffed shells. In oven. For you. Kids alseep. Wine now. TV now. Too tired to talk. Love you.
Cap'n: Thanks! Oh my goodness. I am so tired.
Lydia: (slowly turns to face husband while giving evil eye) What. Did. You. Just. Say?
Cap'n: I'm tired?
Lydia: (Zero to "B" in 4 seconds) You're so tired. Really? What do you even know about tired? I'll show you tired. Why don't you wake up with the baby every hour all night every single night and then chase around ungrateful shrieking little terror suspects all day?! You're tired because you watched a game that was on the west coast that started at 10 pm last night! Your tiredness is voluntary! You chose to be tired. And then you slept uninterrupted for 6 whole hours.  When was the last time I slept for six consecutive hours? 2007 - that's when! Then you got to sit in your car for an hour each way fighting traffic all by yourself and listen to music and talk on your cell phone with no people bugging you or hollering "mom Mom MOM MOOOOMMMM" in your ear non-stop. YOU ARE NOT TIRED!  IN FACT YOU HAVE NO CONCEPT OF TIRED. Don't even talk to me about tired!"
Cap'n: These stuffed shells are really good.
Lydia: Gaaahhhhhhh!
Cap'n: Is there enough for seconds, Crazy?
Lydia: (trying to summon last shred of dignity) Yes. Please help yourself.

I am fully aware that the above makes me a bad person. I am not proud of my behavior. But not sleeping will make you crazy. And it's sort of his fault because he works and I'm at home.  So technically if I were truly desperate, I would be able to catch a nap sometime during the day. That's the so-called "logic" behind why I always get up with her. That and the breastfeeding, but whatever. Except that this napping thing never happens because I have three kids and a phone and a dog. Those three things conspire against me. There is no napping for Momma. And trying to nap and having it not work out is baaaad and just makes me more crazy and desperate.

Because it's not just the lack of sleep - it's the stress positions associated with sleeping in the rocking chair - with my neck at an angle that I'm pretty sure could result in my own death and my right foot propped against a table so that it feels broken when I finally wake up in the middle of the night. And it's not just the stress positions and the resulting physical pain, it's the fact that the whole "will I or won't I sleep ever again" situation becomes a state of psychological warfare between me and the baby. And she always wins.

Do you know what she does? She manipulates me. She can't read, or speak in full sentences, or use a fork, or make outside of a diaper.  Yet she can masterfully use my maternal instincts against me.  Like an evil Yoda.  Would you like an example? Ok, one night, I decided to let her cry for a few minutes before I went in there and she was sort of wimpery and quiet and then wimpery again and then, the floor board creaked just outside the bedroom door so she knew I was standing there. And then the screaming started. I let her yell for maybe a minute and was wondering what to do when all of a sudden she spoke her first sentance:

"MOMMA! Me UP! Peeeeaaaaasse! Me up, Momma, peeease, me up!" followed by tiny, heart-broken sobs.

You win, little baby. Because you play hard ball. She has effectively sleep-trained me. To do her bidding.

Cut to two hours later. We're in the World's Most Uncomfortable Rocking Chair. She is splayed out on my lap, secure in her victory, but angry because she can't nurse all night long. Meanwhile, I wake up with a start, wondering where the heck I am and why this milk-drunk, surly Ewok is wiggling around on my lap calling me Momma.

It's like an abusive relationship. When I can't take any more and have reached my limit, she gives me just enough of a break that I don't get seriously hard core. I might get some improvement for a week or two. And it's wonderful. Then just as I start to get even the least bit complacent - BAM! The cycle starts all over again. Is it a molar? Does she have an ear infection? Why is the little angel waking up every 45 minutes? Why, God, WHY?! To torture me, that's why.

People will tell you they know the answer. The trick to getting your child to sleep through the night. They are LIARS. There is no trick. If there was a trick, I would know it and this post would be about how I get up at 5:30 am to work out with Kate and be gorgeous. I'll say it again - there is no trick. There is only trickery. And thousands of books and websites and blogs all trying to tell me that I'm an idiot for having a fifteen month old who still doesn't sleep. I could write a BOOK about how all these full-proof methods are actually big, fat lies designed to make me feel worse about my lack of sleep.In fact, just to save you all the trouble of suggesting things that I've already tried* and failed at, here's a (partial) list:

Method: Cry It Out/Ferberizing Score: Baby 3, Momma 0
Method: No Cry Sleep Solution Score: Baby 5, Momma 0
Method: Co-Sleeping/Dr. Sears/Attachment Parenting Score: Baby 2, Momma 0**
Method: Pick-up Put-Down/Baby Whisperer Score: Baby 3, Momma 1
Method: Schedule Nazi/Bath-Bedtime-Story Ritual Score: Baby 1, Momma 0
Method: Momma Drinks Self Silly and Crashes Out in the Guest Room Score: Baby 1, Momma 1***
Method: Modified Ferber (Wait Five Minutes to Pick Up, Then Ten, Then Twenty) Score: Baby 2, Momma 0
Method: Give Up All Hope and Just Sleep in the Rocking Chair with the Baby Crashed Out on Top of You Score: Baby 351, Momma 3
* When I say try, I mean TRY, for a week or more, not just one night or one hour. I TRIED and I failed.
** Baby loved this, I didn't sleep a wink for fear I would squash her. Also, Daddy was forced to sleep on the couch because of my fears of double squashage.
*** Daddy was actually the big loser in this method as he had to be me (minus the nursing) for one night.

So it should be clear that I have tried everything and read everything. I have prayed to GOD ALMIGHTY please Lord let me sleep tonight so that I don't accidently lose my schmidt or wreck the BWT while dozing on the steering wheel. No dice. So I remain a woman obsessed. When the baby eventually does start sleeping, maybe that obsession will be redirected towards something more meaningful and productive. Like folding the laundry. Oh, my glamorous life.

Crap, I have to go - the baby just woke up again.

Subscribe in a reader
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

Popular Posts