A Hard Night’s Day.

This is another post imported from PPDtoJoy Archives. It was written by Yael on April 8, 2011.

The toddler is talking in his sleep. He is totally fine. He is mumbling something about Elmo, and Andor, (a kid in his nursery class). Then it was just a string of intelligible sounds. Then he is calling for his brother. it would all be pretty lovely actually, if we were not in the wee hours. But right now it’s excruciating.

you would think I’d be grateful. That he is fine, that is. Of course I am. Especially after what we went through in the first year of his life. if you’d told me then that he would be just talking in his sleep, without being in pain, I’d have paid you to bring it on. With each of my kids, we had close to a year of hourly wakings. That’s why there are 5 years between them. and why I had a raging case of PPD with kid#1, which included overdosing on sleep meds followed by psychiatric hospitalization, and a slow, methodical recovery. I still haven’t been able to bring myself to properly blog about this. i’m working up my courage.  With kid#2 we knew what was coming and were more prepared, I still had PPD, but it wasn’t nearly as bad.

with both of them there was so much  crying,  discomfort, endless nights of sing-song cradling them in the football position and doing the “shush dance”, each child had his own combination of steps and sways that seemed to comfort him — until you tried putting him down. months of not knowing exactly what hurts (blaming it on teething), or how to help. the me of then would have traded places with the me of now in a heartbeat.

but you know, just because that was so terrible, doesn’t mean that what we are dealing with now is a walk in the park. It’s more a walk down crazy lane. and it’s been almost a week like this. sure,  he is fine, but I can’t  sleep because I keep waiting for him to need me. I expect the babble to turn into a cry any second.

4 nights this week. 2 in a row, then alternating. a quiet night with 6 hours of sleep, heaven! then another talkative night.  most of these nights, I gave up on sleep around 4am, and went downstairs, hoping to write. I’m developing the UnGuilt Trip class which I’ll be teaching in Ithaca in May, I  got stuff to do! If i can’t sleep I might as well work, right?

Well not exactly. I can type, but I’m not making nearly as much sense as I would had I been rested. And forget how to use capital letters properly (see my ESL disclaimer on the sidebar.)

And in the rest of the day suffers too. I say the wrong things at the wrong times or in the wrong forums.

the worst part: the computer seems to be in cahoots with the anti-joy squad. Its freezing and crashing and the internet connection is down. ARRGGGGGG!!!!!

It’s so hard.  It is so easy to feel sorry for myself.
I don’t know how to NOT feel sorry for myself.
I’m choosing to allow myself to feel sorry for myself.
this is darn hard. despite being easier than many alternatives.
I need my sleep, and I can’t have it, and I’m allowed to be cranky darn it!
and I’m allowed to say darn as many times as I want to! Darn! Darrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrn!

while I refuse to feel guilty about my crankiness, I place structures around me to avoid inflicting suffering on my family. feeling guilty might seem like it would be helpful, right? like it would keep me from snapping at them. but it doesn’t work like that. All it does is make me defensive, which increases the likelihood of lashing out.

Instead of hitting myself over the head with self judgment,  I do my best to whisper when I’m about to yell.
I tell them I love them and that I’m exhausted and ask for their cooperation.
I apologize when I speak harshly.
I hug more and try to talk less.

Hard night days are common around here. since the combination of guilt and sleep deprivation nearly killed me, it shouldn’t be surprising that I collected and developed a lot of coping mechanisms in the last 7 years. Some were chosen consciously and others showed up for me, almost all by themselves. Since sleep deprivation is the one thing you can count on as a mom, maybe sharing these skills can help somebody else. It might be useful to collect them in a program, like a treasure chest of gems that sparkle in the dark.

but this post is long enough, the Barney video is almost done ( I can’t stand Barney, he loves him, on a day like today he wins) and I better get something to eat before starvation will trump exhaustion…

soon, I’ll be sharing a Sleep Deprivation Companion: a guide to those who have to function anyway.
There will be skills about nourishement, movement, safety, and communications. I hope to share it with you in the Fall.
Much love.




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