I have a question: Will I ever sleep like I did before I had children, or, like when Kirstie Alley replaced Shelley Long on Cheers, will it just never, ever be the same again?
I am still not sleeping like a normal human being, even after 6 years. I try hard not to blame my children for this, but as far as I can remember, I slept far less fitfully in my twenties–even after pulling an all-nighter for a philosophy paper on The Cave (I got an A+), or bar-hopping until 2am. Or, maybe it was just because I could sleep in until 1:00.
Okay, so it might not be their fault currently, but it used to be when they were infants. And apparently, I’m still on infant-time. By the way, I analyzed and conjured up the idea for this post while lying in bed last night, around midnight, listening to two out of the three boys in this house snore like it was nobody’s business. Unfortunately, I do some of my best thinking in the “quiet” of the night when no one is asking me to wipe their bum, fix their Buzz Lightyear toy, or make them another bagel with cream cheese.
I’ve realized there are a number of reasons for my chronic lack of sleeping through the night:
1) I have what my husband has coined “Bionic Hearing”. And he’s right. I have better hearing than our dog. How did I get this Bionic Hearing? From my kids, that’s who. Any mother will attest to the quick-learned ability to hear our newborns fuss or whimper for us in the night. But, while I assume most other parents eventually resume sleeping more soundly as their children grow…..apparently I don’t.
My husband and I could be sitting downstairs in the living room watching a t.v. show and all of a sudden, I’ll sit up on the couch: “push MUTE for a minute someone sneezed”, I demand. He slowly grabs the remote, pushes mute and looks at me with a mixture of curiosity and annoyance as I tilt my head. And then my youngest sneezes for the second time upstairs in his bunk. “Yup, I knew it was him. “.
“You’re an alien” he responds, disgustingly pushing un-mute and getting back to the show.
So, with my Bionic hearing, it gives the term “sleeping soundly” a whole new meaning. I hear the sound of the furnace kick on in the basement, I hear the house creak, I hear the sound of my dog getting on and off her bed downstairs, I hear the sound of the ice machine kick on and make ice, not to mention the sounds and movements that come from my kids and husband. I know who got up to go pee, who’s changing positions and who grinds his teeth. Hm. Re-reading all of this…….it even feels a little creepy to me.
2) I’m a restless sleeper to being with.
I will get into my bed at 8:30 at night and I’ll get in and out of it at least another 7 times before morning. I have to pee, I’m thirsty, I forgot to turn the Christmas lights off, I left my chap stick downstairs on the kitchen counter, I heard one of the boys rustle in their bed so I better go make sure they’re both covered up. In the process, I find my youngest just about to fall out of his bottom bunk, so I have to shove him back in his bed and on and on. And then, after I’ve gotten in and out of bed a few times, I just toss and turn for another 45 minutes before I start to actually slip into unconsciousness.
It’s ridiculous. My husband hates trying to fall asleep next to me because most of this occurs during the first hour or so. And he’s snoring before he’s even fully horizontal, which is a whole other story that I’ll get into later. I’m not positive, but I think I’m just so go-go-go-go all day long that it just takes me a little longer to simmer down enough to fall asleep.
And the biggest reason I’m ready to fall asleep by 7:00pm:
3) I became so accustomed to getting up every two hours to nurse and change my boys when they were babies, and for some reason, I pretty much still do even though there is absolutely no reason for me to whatsoever. Now, while I don’t physically get up and get out of bed every two hours, I do wake up pretty often. Even if it’s just to switch positions. But then, if I hear something it might wake me up a little more and then I’ll realize I have to pee again and then I figure since I’m up I may as well go check on the boys and make sure they’re covered since it’s 20 below zero out and I realize the furnace shut off and it’s now 60 degrees so I turn it back on and then I realize I’m thirsty again, and then once downstairs I notice our poor dog’s water dish is empty. It’s like a Domino Effect. It’s so much safer for me to just Stay. In. Bed.
Are other moms like this??? Or, do most moms go back to sleeping through the entire night knowing that if their kid gets cold, they’ll eventually figure out to pull the blankets up themselves? Oddly enough, I don’t really feel over-tired most days, so I can’t tell if I just have ‘impaired judgement’ about my sleep, or if my body has simply adjusted to functioning on broken sleep really, really well?!
I know that I do sleep heavily some nights and I have the dreams to prove it. Like the time I was on a synchronized swim team, or the time I was put in jail, escaped, but felt so guilty that I went back and turned myself in again (too much Orange Is The New Black that week), or the time Stephen Colbert invited me over to his house for dinner with his family (we had lobster).
The thing I’m learning though, is to try not to get all bent out of shape if I don’t sleep heavily for 8 hours. Because once I start fretting about it, then I’m not only lying there awake, I’m lying there awake and anxious. I try to remind myself that I’m still laying and resting even if I am having really random thoughts.
” Crap, I’ve got to remember to get my cauliflower and curry soup out of the freezer in the morning because I want it for lunch. And I’ve got to pick up more Children’s Motrin at Hannaford on the way to work. That cashier person at Hannaford looked so familiar today. Is her name Lucy? She doesn’t look like a Lucy, she looks like a Sheila. Sheila E. Sheila E. Who the hell is Sheila E? Why am I thinking of a Sheila E??? Oh yeah, that drummer girl from the 80’s who played with Prince, or The Artist Formally Known as Prince I guess I should say. I heard he was really short. Like 5 foot 2 or something crazy like that. It’s so weird to think I would tower over Prince. He probably has a huge presence though, so that would cancel out how short he is. He’s so amazingly talented. He really rocks. ‘I guess I should’ve know by the way you parked car sideways that it wouldn’t last.’ Great, now I’ve got Little Red Corvette in my head. Shit.”