Total Pageviews

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sleep Thief

When I was pregnant, the thing I heard most was “get as much rest as you can now because you won't get much of it when the baby arrives.”  I smiled, sure I knew where that glint in their eye came from, why it seemed to always be accompanied with a slightly cheeky grin.  I was prepared.  I’d done my share of all nighters and I’d learned the art of the catnap to get you through a long stint of never-ending days. 

My little lady made a name for herself our first night in the hospital, either eating or crying the whole night through. A midwife took her for a while so I could get some rest. She came back less than two hours later, looking extremely frazzled and remarking at the set of lungs my girl has on her.  I had no delusions that this would change anytime soon so was ready to tough it out until she learned the difference between night and day.

As it turned out, she slept her first seven hour stint a couple of days before our six week check-up. Brilliant, I thought. After a couple of nights like this, I’ll be able to think normally and sanity will return. That’s when I learned one of those many little secrets parents keep from parents to be (or maybe we just don’t listen?) - Just because she was sleeping, doesn’t mean I would.

Absolutely dead on my feet, begging to sleep the night away and

my. mind. would. not. shut. off. 

Would I hear her if I did fall asleep? Should I wake her up to eat if it goes to long? Did I hang up the laundry?  Is the door locked? Would she starve by going so long between feeds?  Did I finish writing thank you notes? What will I have for lunch tomorrow? When would I visit family next?  Is it warm enough in her room? Have I done the budget? Did I wipe up that milk from the sofa?

You get the idea. It was everything from the most mundane to the all important and the problem when you’re sleep deprived is all of it seems like the most urgent thing in the world.  There is no logic or hierarchy. As far as I was concerned, it was just as important that I do the dusting as it was to begin the job hunt. As a result, I was one tired, anxious ball of nerves, getting nothing done. It was a vicious cycle. The less I slept, the more anxious I became, and the more my mind filled with things to do and problems to solve, the less I was able to sleep. 

Sleep when the baby sleeps. What good advice that is. Brilliant if we could only manage it. I certainly didn’t. Since I couldn’t shut my brain off enough to sleep, I did everything I could to numb it.  Watching television didn’t work. Some of it was just too complicated for an insomniac’s brain to handle, most of the rest was to fluffy to hold my attention and off my mind would wander to that ever growing list of stress. I was warned that I may not have the concentration to read but luckily fluffy books were just the answer I was looking for. Using my imagination gave me a break but I didn’t read anything so deep that I’d have to think much. My best example: I read the Twilight series in the span of two weeks. 

Thank goodness the insomnia waned but it does come back from time to time. (It’s reared its ugly head the last week or so, hence today’s post) Quite often I manage a decent night of sleep until my daughter wakes for whatever reason and then I find myself lying in bed, with my eyes closed, staring at the blackness, and willing myself to think of nothing.

…Thinking of nothing, then thinking of thinking of nothing, then thinking of something, and we’re off and running again…

I’ve read you should never make decisions in the middle of the night and I can see why.  While there have been days where I’ve followed through with my big plans I made in the early hours, there have been far more corkers that were best never carried out! 

Now my girl sleeps just fine but most of the time my nights seem to pass with the equivalent of a ‘car journey nap,’ with one ear trained on the monitor just in case. My Dad has actually said he doesn’t think this ever goes away and is part of being a mom. Apparently once my siblings and I moved out, that ear just learned to listen for the phone instead. Sleep thief, you are ever so tricky.

How about you? Been plagued by the sleep thief lately?


this is us said...

My mum said too that it never goes away.... I can see why, mine are 5 & 7 and I still don't sleep properly, ( they do though) , when their older it'll be waiting for their key in the door, god I wish I'd appreciated sleep before children!!
Great new blog, your a lovely writer. I'll be following! I'm at if you get chance to stop by. Nat

Christina said...

Great post topic Sandy! Philip did not sleep through the night until he was 11mo 2wk old and either did I. I was a zombie for over a year. I too jumped for every noise on the monitor...

Insomnia is my middle name! I just finished the Twilight series for the same reason. My mind does not shut off so I give it something to do. My latest thought keeping me up at night... how do I baby proof the house to keep the baby safe, yet still allow Philip to get himself to the potty.

On the positive side, when I do get sleep it is better quality sleep as I am starting to relax a bit. The monitor is tucked away in the closet. If the kids really need me I will hear them, and I do!

Sheila H said...

Reading this brought back so many memories of my experience of PND and crippling anxiety and insomnia, you are such a good writer of the experience.