Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sleepy Time is a Happy Time...an Elusive and Insufficient Time, too...




I often wonder to myself why I’m always so f-ing tired. I generally get a decent amount of sleep, and take naps as frequently as my kids will allow. Yes, I’m 5 months along in my surrogate pregnancy so I can chalk it up to baby induced fatigue, but even before all this I was unendingly bushed. Yes, I have two young, very energetic, very strong-willed, very loud chilluns, but so do lots of people. Some people have way more than two, and I can’t even fathom being able to keep up with the incessant demands of so many, not to mention even more conflict management. 

Then it occurred to me that I haven’t had a solid night’s sleep in years...since before we got married six years ago, perhaps. Alright, maybe a few lucky nights here and there, but I sleep so light that I wake up if the cat farts in the next room (do cats even fart?). Between a 6’6” 200+ lb husband who snores like a chainsaw and sleeps like a rock, three restless dogs, one nocturnally lively cat, an overactive pregnant bladder, and two needy kids, I am constantly waking up. 

Let’s say I go to bed around 10pm. If all goes well, I got the kids down around 8—maybe 9 by the time they finally quit hollering from their rooms for various reasons. When Dooley’s on the day shift (5:30am-5:30pm with at least an hour commute each way, poor guy), he’s passed out on the couch at least by 9pm, having been awake since 3:30am that morning. He may or may not be rouse-able so he may or may not be coming to bed with me. If he stays on the couch (and the kids stay asleep), I might get a few hours of solid sleep because hey, no snoring bear to punch till he rolls over every five minutes. 

But lately Tuesday has been waking up several times a night for no apparent reason; sometimes she quiets right down, but sometimes it’s the “night terror” crap that Dirt has mostly outgrown, where they scream and cry inexplicably but are inconsolable because they’re asleep. It’s the worst. At least it’s not so violent with Tuesday, because she’s small and less intense. When Dirt had them more often he would thrash around like a kid coming out from general anesthesia—and he’s a surprisingly strong little fella. 

Here’s an example of a standard night (times approximated):

8:00pm: Kids in bed.

9:00pm: Kids finally asleep and quiet…or so I think.

9:30pm: Dirt gets up and says he has to go potty. Then “I have a hug and kiss for you.”

10:00pm: Me in bed, asleep the moment I lie down.

10:30pm: Pete (border collie puppy) is chewing on a bone or something in his kennel. It is remarkably noisy.

11:00pm: Tuesday wakes up crying for no reason. I go pee while I’m up.

12:00am: Dooley gets up off the couch and comes to bed, after loudly fumbling around in the bathroom.

12:30am: Dooley's snoring.

1:00am: Tuesday wakes up crying again. I go pee while I’m up.

1:30am: Bruce (mastiff mix) is scratching so loudly his back foot thumps the floor from the living room like someone angrily pounding on our front door. 

2:00am: Hotdog (the cat) walks across me with his pokey little paws and purrs loudly in my face.

2:30am: Dooley's snoring and eating in his sleep.

3:00am: Tuesday falls out of bed and is crying. I go pee while I’m up. 

3:30am: Dooley’s alarm starts going off. He uses his phone alarm, which is louder and more abrasive than any radio/clock alarm you can imagine. It’s on the loudest setting with the most jarring possible ringtone, and he pushes the snooze button for at least thirty minutes. Every. Morning. Freakishly, he could sleep right through it, but it jolts me right out of my sleep into near-panic mode in which I punch the hell out of him until he turns it off. Every. Five. Minutes.
I recently read a short story by Mark Twain called “The McWilliamses and the Burglar Alarm”, which describes the way a faulty burglar alarm wakes up the homeowners, which feels eerily similar to the way Dooley’s alarm wakes me up: “…the first effect of that frightful gong is to hurl you across the house, and slam you against the wall, and then curl you up, and squirm you like a spider on a stove lid, till somebody shuts the kitchen door. In solid fact, there is no clamor that is even remotely comparable to the dire clamor which that gong makes. Well, this catastrophe happened every morning regularly at five o'clock, and lost us three hours sleep; for, mind you, when that thing wakes you, it doesn't merely wake you in spots; it wakes you all over, conscience and all, and you are good for eighteen hours of wide-awakeness subsequently--eighteen hours of the very most inconceivable wide-awakeness that you ever experienced in your life.”

4:00am: Dooley finally turns the damn thing off and actually gets out of bed. I breathe a sigh of relief until I realize I need to pee again so I stumble to the bathroom, eyes glued shut, and then go back to hiding under the covers. There’s ten or so minutes of Dooley clamoring about as he gets dressed and gets some food in the kitchen—all cabinets and microwaves and closets slammed in drowsy carelessness. I think he secretly (or not-so-secretly) resents the fact that I get to stay in bed several more hours, and so he turns on bright lights and makes no attempt to keep quiet. In doing so all the animals in the house are also roused and I’m still wide awake from the alarm. I hug him goodbye and then try with all my might to go back to sleep.

4:30am: Hotdog is meowing at the door to go outside. I throw a pillow at him.

5:00am: Hotdog is meowing at the door again. I throw another pillow and stomp on my bed like a kid throwing a tantrum till he runs out. Much to my dismay, I see a tiny bit of pale blue in the sky but do my best to catch a few more precious Z’s. 

6:45am: The alarm starts going off on my phone. It is on the lowest possible volume and the softest, nicest ringtone available. I press the snooze button until about 7:00am, when I finally pour myself out of our ridiculously tall bed and stagger out of the room.

I have no idea what on God’s green earth compelled me to sign Dirt up for morning preschool, seeing as no one in our family is even remotely a morning person, other than Tuesday. Normally the kids sleep until 8 or so, after which we have a leisurely morning with an unhurried breakfast and plenty of time to feed all the other beasts. Now we have to leave the house by 7:40 to be to school by 8, so it’s all rushing and stress. Dirt is like a teenager when I try to get him out of bed…he growls and whines and rolls over and hides in his covers and then fights me every step by getting dressed and eating his to-go waffle as slowly as humanly possible. (Tuesday is cheerful and perky, but she’s the only one.) He’s also like a teenager after preschool. When asked what he did in school, he scowls out the window and mutters “nothing” or if I’m lucky, he says they “just played”. When I ask him what his favorite part of school was he says “just all of it”, so at least he seems to enjoy going…even if he hates getting up in the morning and hates when I ask him questions about it. He’s only 4 ½! WTF.

UGH. So the model schedule above was loosely based on last night. I recently put the kids down for their nap and they seem quiet at the moment, so I’m gonna take this opportunity to have my own self a little nap. Sleepy time is a happy time!

This article talks about cortisol levels and how we screw them up, which makes us more tired.

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