Sunday, October 27, 2013

Slumber Can Be Tricky

My  11 year old can sleep anywhere, anytime
No matter what age I am, sleep is a problem. When I was a teenager, I couldn't get enough. Getting up for school during my high school years was pure miserable torture. I especially remember routinely falling asleep doing my utterly boring Algebra homework. I tried. so. hard. to stay awake, but the next thing I knew my mom was throwing open my bedroom door and saying "time to get up" and I would groan, roll over and realize that my pencil was stuck to my cheek and I was still wearing yesterday's clothes. 

Following my high school graduation I was working at McDonalds and going to San Antonio Junior College and doing my best to party as much as possible. There was no time for sleep on a regular basis.  My hours were crazy, life was full, and experiences were to be had at any cost.  Some days I would "open" at McDonalds which meant I had to be there at 4 am. Other days I closed and didn't leave until 2 am.  A few times I opened and closed in the same day.  I averaged about 2 hours of sleep a day.  I think I survived because of the binge sleep days that occurred about 3 -4 times a month when I would sleep 12-14 straight hours. Ah, to be so young and indestructible!

My first pregnancy, in 1987-1988, was a sleep nightmare. That whole waking up 26 times a night to pee thing might be good preparation for the getting up with a newborn every 2 hours, but it nearly drove me insane.  9 months of never sleeping through the night followed by 6 months of the same, but with an infant!  Having a baby at age 22 and dealing with the brutal infancy stage was, in retrospect, a piece of cake, though. A 22 year old is resilient and strong. Later when I had my third child at 36 I became stupid from the lack of sleep immediately after her birth. She had acid reflux and for the first 2 months it was rare for her to sleep more than 20 minutes at a time.  Someone finally told me to take the wheels off of half of her crib so she would be at a slight incline.  I wish I could remember who told me that because I think they saved my life. 

But it was with the middle kid (I was 27) that the lack of sleep infancy stage was at it's most sad, but kinda funny.  I was (still) in college and, determined to graduate (on the 10 year plan) as well as determined to provide my oldest with a sibling, I timed my pregnancy so that the birth would occur in the few weeks between the end of the spring semester and the beginning of the first summer session. I was exhausted and my husband went on a long TDY in the Air Force about 4 weeks after she was born.  There was this dog next door that would bark all night long.  One night I was sitting in the rocking chair nursing and started actually hallucinating from a lack of sleep. There were ghostly shapes flying all over the room.  I freaked out and called my husband sobbing and he told me to calm down and go next door and ask the neighbors to do something about the dog.  I knocked on their door (it's like 2 am) and I babbled some incoherent story about seeing ghosts and hearing barking and I know they thought I was going off the deep end.  But they brought the dog in and I never heard it bark again. 

The consequences of spacing my kids out (they are now 25, 20 and 11) were that it wasn't until about 6 years ago that the opportunity to sleep straight 8 uninterrupted hours on a regular basis became possible again. No infants needing to be fed, no toddlers getting out of bed, no nightmares and requests for drinks of water.  No fevers or ear infections or upset tummies.  I think I had one good year of sleep and then, I turned 40.   Suddenly I was waking up at 3 am for no good reason?  Wide awake.  I asked my doctor about it and he said this was common for women over 40.  What the heck?!  This was cruel and usual. For about 3 or 4 years I tried everyone's suggestions:  make sure the room is cool and dark, keep to a schedule (as if), don't eat or drink anything several hours before bed,etc.  Nothing really worked.  And then, for no apparent reason, I just started sleeping better again.

Sometimes I still wake up at 3 am but I fall back asleep.  These days I feel like I've come full circle  - back to those Algebra homework days, only with books.  I have so many books I want to read and the only time I have to read is at bedtime.  I try. so. hard. to stay awake and read but generally I'm snoozing after only a paragraph.  And the next thing I know my alarm clock is going off at 6 am and I groan and wish for the weekend (when I wake up at 6 am anyway, but at least I can go back to reading my book!

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