One of my wonderful friends has just had a baby, and she and her husband are now experiencing the rite of parenthood that is ‘going without sleep for days on end just when you need it most’. Ah, the joys. Their experiences, their texts “got 2 hours sleep last night”, “finally got to sleep at 5am”, and their tired but deeply besotted faces are bringing it all back to me. I have posted on this topic before, but as every parent knows, it’s one that is dear to our hearts and we all have fond memories of lying in bed all day and some of us have vague hopes of doing it again in some distant future.
Sleep has become an odd demon for me of late. I recently dropped my dose of antidepressant/anti-anxiety medication down by 50%. Yes, that was quite a drop and apparently not the way you’re supposed to do it. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend it – I felt like vomiting for a whole week and instead of dropping off to sleep, every worry and anxiety that I had ever entertained came back to say hello in the dark of the night. Not pleasant … if you’re ever thinking of doing something silly like that, go see your doctor first. However, I digress. My point was going to be that, on my previous dose, these lovely drugs would make me sleepy. Quickly. In fact, I would take one, get ready for bed, lie down and … schlop … asleep. Magic. If I got woken up within the next two hours, I would feel intensely ill, which does make it hard to be nice to whichever little person has arrived at my bed, but that’s another story for another day. On my new half (lowest possible, yay for me, might I add!) dose, I don’t get any magic sleepiness. None. Zip. Hello, wide awakeness! It’s been over 2 years since I had to think about how to get to sleep and I’m having to work hard to remember to do things like relax, think happy thoughts, breathe steadily and from the belly … etc.
So on Sunday night, when I went to bed early because I knew I’d had way too many late late late nights, I wasn’t happy when it panned out like this …
9.30pm. In bed, lights out
9.45pm. Bugger – still awake, forgot I have to put myself to sleep. Chat to husband. Get grunts in return. Try to make body go loose and floppy.
10.00pm. Still awake. Try lying on my back.
10.15pm. Oh. My. God. Still. Awake. Go back to side.
11.05. Crap, still awake! Right – concentrate … lie flat, relax forehead, relax eyes, relax mouth, relax neck. I wonder what will happen about that email I sent at work. Oops, supposed to be relaxing. Relax forehead, relax eyes, I think I could have worded it better. But I’m prepared to stand by what I said. Perhaps we could have a meeting, that might be better than emailing. Oops, supposed to be relaxing. Relax forehead. No, that’s not working. Lie on my side. Come face to face with small child. Oh! Hello! What are you doing standing silently by my bed?! Cold? Come and have a cuddle. Yes, lie on my arm so I lose all feeling in it, perfect.
11.30 Ok, time to go back to your bed. Yes, you can lie so you can see Ruby. Yes, I’ll put your duvet on you. O-kayyy, I’ll put it on you the right way. Yes, you can have a kiss. Yes, you can have a kiss on the other cheek too. Are we right now? Ok, night night, off to sleep, good girl.
11.35 Lie on back, let’s start from the toes this time. Relaxed toes, relaxed feet, feel warmth moving up legs as whole body starts to relax, hey this might be working, am feeling sleepy … ahhh, dozing.
Midnight. Bright light … well, hello Leah, did you have to shove the door WIDE open like that? Yes, ok, another cuddle. Ok, I’m going to put you back in your warm bed now. Yes, that noise is just the wind. No, you’re quite safe, look, Ruby is fast asleep. Ok, you cuddle caterpillar. Ok, night night. You stay in your bed now, ok? Ok.
12.05am. Back in bed. Assuming restful dozing position – starting to doze. Feck, I can hear footsteps. Hello Leah – you’re scared? Ok, it is a bit windy isn’t it. Want to sleep in our bed? Ok, in you get. Daddy, move over. Bless the lovelies who gifted us a super king-size bed. Yes, I’ll get your pillow for you. Yes, and caterpillar. Ok, you want to hold my hand, fine, done. Now go to sleep. Ahh, quiet child, quiet husband (kind of) … dozing.
More blessed full sleep.
2.00am. Wide awake. Not sure why. Hmm, had 2 hours – bliss. Lifting very asleep very heavy child … bugger, who shut the door? Probably me seeing as I was the last one through it. Manage to open door while holding very asleep very heavy child in both arms, not quite sure how. Maneuver comatose child into sleeping position, cover with duvet, retrieve pillow and caterpillar from our bed, place in correct positions, creep out door.
2.05am. Curled in fetal position in my bed. Calculate it’s 3.5 hours until alarm goes off so I can go and run in the dark. Reach out and adjust alarm to ‘spent all night traipsing up and down the bloody hall’ time and resign myself to staying fat for a bit longer.
2.45am. Meee-orrrrr-owwwwllllll-grrrr-arrrrgh. Holy Mother of God what is that noise?!!!!! Who’s murdering my children? Spring to fully awake in seconds. Hmm, even without much medication that’s enough to make me feel sick. Oh, not murder, effing cats. There will be murder. Is it murder if it’s a cat?? Lie in bed and swear every bad word I know while husband opens door and chases cats away.
3.00am. Body has evidently decided it’s pointless going back to sleep.
3.05am. Relaxing forehead …
6.00am. Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep. More swearing.
6.05am. Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep. More swearing.
6.10am. Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep. More swearing.
6.15am. Beep beep beep beep beep beep beep beep. More swearing. Slowly drag myself upright. Peep in on completely comatose children. Consider poking the youngest one so she knows how it feels. Realise that would be decidedly counter-productive. Get ready for work. Mumble to self about bloody kids, bloody cats, who’s bloody idea was it to drop the drugs, bloody work, bloody sleep. Get text from friend with new baby, happy to have 2 hours sleep. Buck my ideas up and be glad they mostly sleep through these days!!