Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Sleep deprivation is a form of torture.  I cannot overstate this fact.  Parents, most of them, will totally back me up on this. 

We are currently well into week 3 of Lucy's sleep striking.  She wakes between 6 and 12 times a night.  This is NOT an exaggeration.  Though 12 is her current record, I'm not putting it past her to break it; like her brother, she doesn't believe in doing anything half-assed. 

To say that I am tired doesn't do the feeling justice.  I am an empty shell of a human being, walking around in a mama-suit.  My eyes are bloodshot and the bags underneath them would be considered oversized luggage by most airlines.  I have forgotten my most basic coping skills, and my good parenting skills flew out the window weeks ago.  I shouldn't be allowed to operate a motor vehicle or have the care and control of children, and yet.... occupational hazards, both.    

More than this, sleeplessness messes with your head, and your heart.    I have, in my weaker moments, begged L. to take Lucy to work with her in the mornings and give her away to someone, anyone who wants her.  I was only half-kidding.  I have felt extreme (and completely unwarranted) anger at L. for going off to work and leaving me alone, awake, with the children.  I have wanted to yell at and shake my baby during those long dark nights.  Though I have not done either of those things, she has had a number of f-bombs dropped in her general direction. 

These are not revelations I'm proud of.  But I guess this is what sleep deprivation does to a person.  It makes them forget who they really are, and positive emotions like love, patience, endurance, forgiveness, protectiveness become very distant memories. 

I've read the sleep books looking for solutions.  Let her cry it out, they say.  And I actually might, though this is contrary to my personal belief system, if I did not have a child sleeping in the next bedroom who is such a light sleeper he could be woken by a twig snapping three blocks over.   She is not napping well enough, they say.  Perhaps you are not providing a good enough daytime sleep environment, they say.  Do the writers of these books own toddlers or pre-schoolers?  I'm doing the best I can.  Out the window they go.

This too shall pass.  If I had a dollar for everytime someone said that to me in the past three weeks, I'd be starting a big fat RRSP.  I'm gonna let you in on a little secret.  This really isn't helpful.  I know it's meant to be supportive and all perspective-y.  The first couple-a times I heard it, it even helped a little.  Now, three weeks into sleep hell, with my body slowly succumbing to the inevitable sickness that comes from prolongued lack of sleep,  hearing those four words just makes me want to pop people between the eyes.   (I don't mean to sound ungrateful for the support . . . but there it is.)

Maybe, just maybe, when Lucy and Oliver have gone off to college (or flight school) and I'm madly suffering from empty-nest syndrome, I'll look back and think "Gee, I sure miss being tortured for weeks on end."  Don't get me wrong - in my more lucid moments, I know just exactly how lucky I am to have two marvellous, healthy, and bright-eyed children. 

But in the right here and now, in the midst of this seemingly unending baby bootcamp session, it's a little difficult to grab onto that perspective.


  1. Gus did that to me too. He only just started waking up two or LESS times a night which I think is a total breakthrough. It got better after we let him cry it out once. I'm not a fan of the technique either, but one night I actually couldn't get out of bed to get up to get him. Its hard, but I think that for some kids its the only way. If it were 12 times a night I might take them to the Dr. just to make sure there is no alternative reason (if you haven't done that already) for the waking. [Lucky you - more unsolicited advice]. Good Luck T. Thinking of you.

  2. ugh, could not have said it better. How on earth do people manage to have more & more & more children!

  3. I really REALLY feel for you. My Lucy was a CRAP sleeper, the worst was around 5-6 months. I too was up over 10 times a night. May I suggest the Sleep Easy Solution?! yes it has some CIO... but it is manageable, and you will see change in 3 days, and BIG change in 7. I kid you not. We were not supporters of CIO either - until the zombie that I was needed exorcising. GOOD LUCK. I really REALLY am freaked about getting another crap sleeper if we do it again....

  4. Oh do I feel your pain, during the month of December there was not much sleep at all happening in this house (not by Owen or myself anyways). I felt things were never going to get better and that no one could understand HOW TIRED I was.

    Things are a little better,,,doing a bit of the EASY. I hope things change for you and your Lucy soon!

  5. The kid is still pn the inside (yes, here, mid week 42) but boy do I hear you. I've not slept through the night since I got pregnant (any night). At its worst, around weeks 34-37 I could not sleep for more than 45 minutes at a stretch. Between heartburn, nausea, pain, peeing, plain old insomnia, I was up. I looked and felt like a zombie, and eventually developed a severe bronchitus, which then, on account of coughing and not breathing, made sleeping harder.

    "Well meaning" sociopaths would say to me "sleep now while you can, you won't be able to sleep once the baby comes". I have never felt so violent. First that would suggest that I could sleep now, if only I tried, second, that it will only get worse and third, clearly sleeping would never have occured to me as a responce to tiredness if someone did not suggest it to me.

    Ahem. Perhaps I need my own blog post on the issue.

    Anyway, may better sleep, and a clearer head come to you and to Lucy. May it get better, and may that be soon.

    Posted at yes, 3:03 am local time.

  6. I apologize for laughing my ass off at your pain. But you describe the experience so well. And give me yet -another- reason to not have a #2 any time soon. :) -j.m.- (it's ok - it's not your fault - we'd already decided to not discuss it for at least another year)

  7. I am so glad I am not the only mother who has swore at her baby in the middle of the night! My crappy sleeper is about to turn 5 years old and still wakes up at least once a night. At least now he just climbs into bed with us instead of screaming his face off like when he was a baby. It doesn't get better...you just get used to it...sort of.

  8. Anonymous - trust me when I say you are DEFINITELY not the only mother to have sworn at her child in the middle of the night ;-)