Sleep Deprivation is Torture

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With the first child, you can “sleep when the baby sleeps”, (at least before you go back to work), which works ok if your baby sleeps. I was not so blessed in the sleep department with my first. Even the nurses at the hospital laughed about how wide awake she was, often screaming. One nurse even said “I wouldn’t want to take that one home.” Nice, huh? Maya didn’t “sleep through the night” until she was about 1, and would still wake sporadically each week for months beyond. Apparently, Maya didn’t read the books I did.

Note: Do not ask parents if their baby sleeps through the night. Do not ask parents if their baby is a “good baby”. It might make the sleep deprived mother of an insomniac pterodactyl cry.

I survived. Enter another baby. A daughter who was a better sleeper than my first, but was on a sleep apnea machine for the first 3 months…leads and alarms on your babies isn’t restful.  The obsession with the first child is over. Love grows. It’s grand. But, no more sleeping when the baby sleeps because you’re now on toddler duty when your new baby is sleeping. Chances are, when it’s toddler nap time, your new baby will be bright eyed. Eventually, I was able to get my daughters napping for a few hours at the same time. Heaven’s trumpets roared! This baby slept through the night at about 11 months.

Note to the general public and to parents of nonnappers: Stores are quieter and less crowded in the afternoon “nap time” window.

I survived again, but started losing brain cells at this point. Putting cereal boxes in the freezer. Looking for my sunglasses when they were on my head. Listening to people talk, but having no idea what they were talking about. Burning food. Getting wrinkles. Laughing when I should be crying. Crying when I should be laughing.

Enter the final baby, who was my best sleeper, and only waking once by about 6 months, which seemed like a cake walk at this point. Here’s 2 of my nights in a row. Dawson was 2 months, Ava was 17 months, and Maya was 33 months.

Puzzle sleep is not healthy for anyone. 3 kids in 31 months means I am an expert in puzzle sleep without breaks for about 4 years straight. Then it moves to patchy sleep for a few years with wet beds, nightmares, sick times, and random wake ups. The more kids you have, the higher probability  and duration for patchy sleep. Kids close in age was our plan of attack so I laughed (and cry-laughed) about it way more than I complained. If I don’t make sense or can’t recall 2004-2008, The Puzzle Sleep Years is why.

Survival Tips for Parents of Baby Insomniacs who do not care what books you read or parents with multiple children all in the crazy sleep zone.

1.Don’t keep track. Don’t count your hours. I mean, a few times for scrapbooking and future blackmail opportunities, but in general let that sleepy balloon go. When I let go of the  internal fight to “catch up” sleep, I was still exhausted, but happier about it all.

2. Get to bed early when you can even if that means 6:30pm;) And/Or use a support system, if you have one, to get some naps.

3. When you’re feeling good, stock up for the tired times ahead: make up meals, snacks to grab, plan a new activity to break out when you’re eyes are crossing, etc.

4. Nothing tastes better when you’re tired than chocolate, but do try to take care of yourself nutritionally…take a vitamin!

5. Laugh about it as much as you can. Add it to your Revenge Plan! 

As crazy as it all was, I don’t regret a single night now that it’s all behind me. I can’t say I miss the sleep deprivation, but there were some sweet moments to look back on. The rocking, the snuggling, singing lullabies,  even laying on the floor beside their beds, holding their fat little fingers through the rails. Laughing when they were wide awake, bouncing up and down ready to play at 4am.

Wait…am I talking about my kids or my puppy? I don’t even know.

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  1. I’ve never heard the term puzzle sleep before, but how apt!! My kids, all 6 of them, were approximately 3 years apart. I didn’t have 3 continuous years of puzzle sleep, but I did experience about 6 years worth of it over my lifetime.

    Not much longer until my North Carolina trip and implementation of my first revenge plan!

    • Puzzle sleep is tough, huh? 6 hours in a row, not bad. 6 hours in 2 hour increments. BAD! I wonder how 6 years of puzzle sleep has influenced your Revenge Plan? Your poor son won’t know what hit him;)

  2. Here’s one of Zane’s!

    9:15 nurse, rock, in crib at 10
    10:13-cries, rock Zane, give teething drops
    10:19-into crib
    10:22-cries, rocking, holding
    10:31-into crib
    12:30 cries, daddy walks him around the couch for ten minutes
    1:20-cries, daddy rocks him five minutes
    1:40-nurse, rock Zane, pacifier
    2:10-crying, rocked for 15 minutes
    4:45-new diaper, bring Zane into our bed, nurse
    5:45-more nursing
    6:45-more nursing
    7:45-up for the day

    total sleep baby sleep- 9 H
    total baby wakeups- 9
    longest stretch of sleep for either of us- 2.5 H

    i also kind miss the quiet snuggles, but look back and see my mental illness!!!

    • Oh Kitty. I feel you. My body ached reading this and I inserted mental pictures of Maya, John, and I in my head. After weeks of nights like this I’d wander in somewhere in public where someone would ask me if my baby sleeps through the night…or if she was a good baby…or another mom would tell me her baby slept through the night at 6 weeks. I may or may not have punched these people. I can’t remember.

  3. Oh, geez. I totally relate about so much of what you wrote, even though I only have one! My kid is 6 3/4, and *just now* (meaning in the last month) sleeping ‘through’ the night — 7:15pm to about 5:30 or 6am. For the last 6+ years I’ve been woken up one to seven times a night. I totally get the puzzle sleep. Turns out it was years of undetected food allergies that were the culprit. Well, that combined with a naturally ‘wide awake baby’ like your first. Not a great combination. At least at some point I stopped wondering what I was doing wrong, lol!

    • Bless your heart, Malke! Undetected food allergies! That one is new to me with disrupting sleep, but it all seems to go together. I’m glad you let go of wondering what you were doing wrong…that’s hard to do, especially in the thick of it.

  4. “Listening to people talk, but having no idea what they were talking about.”

    So true! I feel so bad. All of a sudden I’ll realize I was just nodding along, putting up a front that I was listening. This is not by choice. I had 1-1.5 years of good sleep and then #2 came along! 14 months tomorrow and he’s slept through the night 3 times…2 of which were because he was too sick to fuss much. I’m exhausted and ready for some brain cells to regenerate. Better be off to bed now!

  5. Melissa, while I can say the brain cells regenerate some…I’m still waiting for all of them to come back! Ha Ha;) May restful nights be in your near future. Hang in there! I happen to know first hand how awesome you are;) Here’s a hug.

  6. As the mother of a 31 year old I can vouch that not all of the brain cells will regenerate…having fewer brain cells is how you get through the teenage years. No sleeping then either. ;0)

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