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.