August 31, 2009

30 Days of Happiness, Day 8: Sleep! Glorious Sleep!

Before I get into the meat of this post, and oh, is it meaty (and probably boring as hell), there are two things you need to know about me:

1) I have been an insomniac for all my adult life. I cannot remember when it started, although it's highly possible that it was as far back as junior high. I just don't know for sure. Anyway, I have the type of insomnia that makes it difficult for me to stay asleep. I have no problems falling asleep at night but I tend to wake up in the middle of the night and be wide awake for two to three hours before finally falling asleep again. This is not a constant thing, but rather it works in cycles. My insomnia usually rears its ugly head when things get really stressful for me.

2) In the past year, I have gotten maybe three months worth of good sleep. The first half of my pregnancy was characterized by the most godawful insomnia. Really, it was bad. Things got better and then worse the closer I got to the end of my pregnancy. Obviously, since I have a young infant, I haven't slept well in at least three months - but with the end of pregnancy pea-sized bladder I was rockin', I'd say it's been a good six months since I've slept through the night.

So there's a bit of sleep history on me. Now, let me tell you about Charlie's sleep habits.

As Charlie moved out of the newborn eat-sleep-poop stage, he started sleeping for longer stretches at night (thank the gods!) and started fighting naps during the day (boo!). It was only within the last month or so that I realized that Charlie really wasn't sleeping enough. This became really obvious to me when I looked at him one day and realized he had circles under his eyes.

Thus, Project "get Charlie to sleep using any means necessary" was born. I started using the swing, the stroller, and the car seat constantly throughout the day. I really started paying attention to his cues and learning when he was tired. Then, once I noticed he was getting fussy, I would put him in my instrument of choice and walk him around the block or drive him around for an hour or put him in the swing. (I have always used the swing sparingly because it doesn't keep him asleep for long enough.) But stroller rides and car rides have always done the trick. It didn't take much of either one of these things to send him into a deep sleep. Sometimes he'd even sleep for an hour more even after I'd gotten him home. I would use that time to get things done or eat something or whatever. Rarely did I take a nap myself because I was actually getting enough sleep at night.

I will say that I did this stuff (the swing, stroller, and car seat) kind of reluctantly because I have always wanted Charlie to learn how to sleep in his bed day and night. It's not exactly convenient for me to take him on an hour long car ride just to get him to sleep. And in the long run, it's probably not good for Charlie either.

The past few weeks, Charlie hasn't been the greatest night sleeper. It's easy to put him to bed but it's not always easy to keep him there. He will sometimes wake up multiple times a night and we have to kind of rock the pack and play back and forth to help him fall asleep again. Sometimes, if he's really awake, we have to pick him up and soothe him back to sleep. That's fine. I don't mind doing it. It's part of being a parent and all that jazz.

What has happened, though, is that I am either in the midst of my own cycle of insomnia or I wake up anticipating Charlie's wakefulness. Either way, I wake up in the middle of the night long before Charlie does (he wakes up around 2 AM or so) and stay awake. And now that Charlie has started the trend of fighting sleep after his first night waking, I am awake for more hours of the night than I really should be. (Although Roy is a rockstar and always handles Charlie when he fights sleep in the middle of the night.) If you combine this tendency of mine with Charlie's crappy nap habits, this can only mean one thing.

Mommy's tired. Really fucking tired.

Now, let me tell you about yesterday and today.

For some unknown reason, Charlie was a hot mess yesterday. He was pretty fussy for most of the day. Roy took him for a couple of stroller rides, and he'd fall asleep, and then he'd wake right back up once Roy got him into the house. (It was over 100 yesterday, so it's not like Roy was going to stroll Charlie around for an hour to get him to take a full nap.) At my suggestion, Roy took Charlie for a car ride. And Charlie screamed the entire time. So not his MO.

When they got home, we decided to feed Charlie even though he'd eaten only an hour and a half earlier. It worked - Charlie settled down and was his normal cheery self for awhile. And then an hour and a half later, he was melting down again and needed to be fed again. At this point, Charlie had hardly slept all day, and Roy was looking pretty frazzled, and I wasn't getting any work on my thesis proposal done. So I swaddled him, fed him, and lo and behold, he fell right to sleep and I put him down for a "normal" nap that didn't require either of us to drive or walk. Seriously, a miracle. He hasn't really done that since he was really, really tiny.

By that point I'd kind of figured that he was going through a growth spurt or something and that's why he was so hungry. So we made sure that he was nice and fed before setting out for family dinner. But as soon as we got him into the car, he was screaming. And he stayed screaming. By the time we were on the freeway, he was still screaming. So we turned around and came home. And then tried it again once we'd done a diaper change and another feeding. And he started screaming again once we got him into the car. But we kept going, and he kept screaming. It was rough. But finally, once we were about halfway to our final destination, he stopped screaming and fell asleep.

(Please don't hate on me for letting him scream so much. We really didn't have much of a choice. We could have gone back home that second time, but he still would have screamed the entire way. We knew that he'd probably be okay once we actually got to where we were going. And he was. But still, I hate hearing him scream. It totally sucks and sometimes it scares me.)

Anyway, my nerves were completely shot by the time we got to family dinner. And I was so fucking tired myself. And last night was more of the same, so I woke up today feeling completely busted. I almost sent out an SOS text to Uncle Paul asking him if he would come over and watch Charlie so I could take a nap. But I did take Charlie out and he did just fine in the car, thankfully.

But later on today Charlie did a wonderful thing for me.

I took a chance and swaddled him and then fed him and burped him and then patted his back for a long while, just like I do at night, and he fell asleep like a normal baby. I put him down and he woke up about 10 minutes later, so I picked him back up and soothed him back to sleep. This was at 1:20 PM. After I became pretty sure that he was going to be asleep for at least a little while, I laid down and took a nap myself.

I don't think I've ever had a better nap. I think it lasted about an hour and a half, and when I woke up the world felt absolutely delicious. Kerwin was sleeping at the foot of the bed, Charlie was snoozing away, some sunlight was falling onto the bed through the windows, and I felt like a million fucking dollars. I actually got to lie in bed for a good long while after I woke up and listen to the quiet. It was perfect. And Charlie slept until 3:45. (!!!!!!!!!)

It's 9 PM, and for the first time in a long time, I actually feel awake and alert and present in my own life. I might actually stay up a little later tonight and be an adult. Because here's what nighttime is normally like at our house:

1) Hang out with Charlie until it's bedtime.
2) Give Charlie a bath.
3) Put Charlie to bed. (This is Roy's job.)
4) Do the minimal amount of chores it takes to keep the house and our lives functional. (Laundry, bottle washing, picking up.) Dinner is optional.
5) Stumble to bed deliriously. Maybe brush my teeth before.
6) Wake up a million times a night due to Charlie fussing in his sleep, Roy snoring, the cats throwing a party, my own crappy sleep habits.

Doesn't sound like much fun, eh?

Anyway, that's my big piece of happiness for today, the nap that Prince Charles was so kind to let me have. I don't know why I had to write out all that other stuff, but I guess I just did it for me, probably because I've been so tired and frustrated with all this sleep shit the past few weeks and I want to remember this day, when I actually feel rested. I don't know if Charlie will continue on this path of sleeping in his bed during the day, but I really am going to try to get him to. If he does, I might actually be able to get some sleep myself and possibly get some things done during the day.

(Okay, tomorrow's happiness post will contain less text and more photos. Promise! And thanks for reading if you actually got this far. Mom stuff is so boring, isn't it?)


Brenda said...

The nap sounds amazing! I'm glad you finally got some much needed rest. I am loving the 30 days of Happiness posts.

Angie Eats Peace said...

So glad you got a nap. It really makes such a difference.

Dont even worry about letting him scream in the car.
My mom told me I hated the car so much as a baby, that I would scream and even hold my breath through the whole trip.
She said my dad would be flipping out because he thought I was going to pass out from not breathing, but, she just told him once I passed out I would start breathing. No big deal. :)

Erika said...

I'm glad you were able to take a nap.

I'm enjoying these 30 d of happiness stories too.

JennB said...

Awesomeness. I'm glad you're so real with your posts and not like "Charlie doesn't sleep perfect, but it's ok because I have rainbows and sunshine coming out of me ass" or something. Thanks for keeping it real. I'm glad you got the rockstar nap.

Have you ever put him in his carseat and put the seat on top of the washer on spin cycle? My mom used to do that with me. I was a only-fall-asleep-in-the-car baby and the washer trick worked for me I hear.

Good luck with sleeping. can't wait for your next happiness post. I'm digging these

amber said...

Ugh. I can't even imagine. I'm a raving bitch when I don't sleep, so yeah, I'd have been a hot mess right along with Prince Charles (how awesome is that nickname?!).

I really hope that the "normal" nap is the start of a new trend for him and increased sleep is a new trend for you. {{hugs}}