Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Study in Sleep Deprivation

Most parents will tell you -- Once you have kids, you never sleep again. Ever. 


It may seem a little dramatic and it isn't true with every baby but for the parents with a colicy baby or one who just never sleeps more than two or three hours at a time, getting a good nights' sleep is something akin to winning the lottery. Maybe not a big lottery but still improbable. Something you have on a wish list -- #1. Win the lottery #2. Sleep 8-10 hours straight #3. Travel the world. -- you get my point. I've been extremely lucky with the boys and they've both been great sleepers, even when Paxton was breastfeeding.


So why should it change? Well, because babies are human. 


With close observation, you quickly realize how fast babies grow, how fast they morph out of that drooling ball of goo into a walking, talking whirlwind of terror. Different stages offer different challenges and some of those can definitely affect the amount of sleep a growing baby gets. You'll definitely lose sleep when the teeth start to come in and the older they get, the less sleep they need which makes napping when they do harder & harder. 


Then there's every time they get sick; you can rest assured someone won't be sleeping. Generally, it lasts just long enough to have you fantasizing about running away before things cool down and the old routine is back or a new one has been established. It really doesn't last that long; maybe a couple weeks, maybe three or four but usually not long enough to make you really crazy. 


Usually. 


Too bad there's absolutely nothing "usual" about my family. In this family, it pays to live like a Boy Scout -- Be Prepared & ALWAYS Expect the Unexpected -- but if Life has taught me anything, its that Life will always give you something you weren't expecting or prepared for. That's just Life.


I didn't expect to get Strep throat right after Christmas & I definitely wasn't prepared for the week of Hell that followed. I don't have insurance and when I get sick, I DO NOT go to the doctor (which means the Emergency Room) unless I absolutely have to. When Day 3 of a sore throat left me drooling all over myself because I couldn't even swallow my own spit, I went in. That's how I found out I had strep. I only survived long enough for the antibiotics to kick in because I was so pitiful, the doctor gave me Vicodin too. Yay me.


Barely out of my sick bed, Jay's brother, Joel, flies in from New York AND Paxton decides to get the worst diaper rash EVER! I have never in my life seen a baby's butt so raw. Every diaper change was torture, for both of us. Even with a prescription, it took days to clear up. And you can bet every one of those nights was totally sleepless. He woke up every time he peed; every time he rolled over, I'm pretty sure. By this time, I'm going on two or three weeks with maybe four hours of broken sleep a night.


I thought I was going to go crazy!! As soon as I'd start to fall asleep, a blood curdling scream would jar me awake and I'd stumble to the boys' room to do what I could to soothe Pax, which was close to nothing. It got so bad one night, I took a baking soda bath with him at 3 in the morning; a mother's love has no limits.


It doesn't end there, though. Oh, no. 


I'll admit I had about a week-long break between the rash and the next sleep-killer: bronchitis. I'm glad the rest of the family didn't catch my strep but I was not at all glad to hear that barking cough & wheezing. Another visit to the doctor; more prescriptions -- inhalers all around, Prednisolone for Paxton -- and another two weeks of no sleep. At this point, I could fall asleep blinking my eyes. Driving has become hypnotic, which scares the crap out of me, and as soon as it starts to get dark, I'm struggling to keep my eyes open. 


The bronchitis is under control now and we were on the road up when I made the mistake of feeding the boys' enchiladas for dinner on Sunday. They loved them but apparently, enchilada sauce is too much for little tummies when combined with a bedtime sippy of milk. Paxton woke up around ten, crying and fussing but we couldn't figure out 
what was wrong. I sat with him, rubbing his hair to get him back to sleep, when he starting gagging. I scooped him up and ran for the bathroom but didn't make it (does anyone??). Spicy, curdled milk went EVERYWHERE. All down my arm, shoulder, back; it even arced a nice rainbow of puke as I spun into the bathroom. 


With newly-made stomach-cheese covering the entire left side of my body and trailing behind us, I knew we weren't gonna make it to the toilet. I got him as far as the sink for the rest of it and considered myself lucky to make that far. After that, I figured he'd be fine but in the melee, his blanket got doused and was definitely not fit to be slept with. 


He lost it. 


He didn't care it had puke on it and needed to be washed. He didn't care he has two other blankies EXACTLY like the one now soaking in milk curds & enchilada sauce. Every time I'd get him calmed down and on the verge of sleep, he'd remember the blanket he was cuddling was NOT his blanket and the freak-out would begin again. He even trotted himself downstairs to retrieve his blanket from the wash when it became obvious to him I wasn't going to get it.


Sometime around 1:30 or 2 in the morning, he finally went to sleep. For two hours. Yeah, it just keeps going. After settling him back to sleep AGAIN, I got a few hours of sleep before my alarm went off. I didn't bother getting dressed to take Phoenix to school; didn't even consider putting on make-up and couldn't have given two shits what anyone thought about it when they saw me. I can honestly say that's probably the first time I haven't gotten dressed and done my make-up but it was completely beyond me to put in the effort.


I'm hoping this "stage" is over & done with. I need sleep. So, so badly. I love my kids; I really, really do and I've only thought about strangling them a few times, just briefly. I'm sure they can sense when I'm at my breaking point, though, because out comes the cuteness and things quiet down for awhile. The urge to commit murder fades, replaced by a tiredness that seems to seep out of my bones. All I need is two weeks (maybe three or four) of GOOD, sound sleep (or a medically-induced coma) and I'll be fine. Just fine...

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