I knew having kids would impact my sleep, so it was no shock to me when we brought our daughter home at 11 months old via International Adoption that we dealt with many night wake ups as she moved her little body to our time zone and got used to a new…everything. I can’t remember exactly how many months we dealt with wake ups, but in hindsight, it seemed easy compared to our son.
Oh, our son. He joined our family through birth and so we parented him with all his night wake-ups from Day 1.
When people asked us how he was sleeping at three months old, we smiled and said, “Oh, he gets up every few hours to eat.” We knew this was perfectly normal and expected for babies this age.
When people asked us how he was sleeping at six months old, we nonchalantly said, “Yep, he still gets up every few hours to eat. We’re not worried.”
When people asked us if he was sleeping through the night at nine months old, we said, “Nope, not yet.” But we knew that day would come (any day now!).
Now at 15 months old, people assume we are sleeping through the night and all is well, but friends… HE IS STILL WAKING UP. We had one night – ONE NIGHT – of his life where he slept through the night. Otherwise it’s still 1-5 wake ups each night. Most often it’s two wake ups. I have been averaging five hours of broken sleep for the last year+ of my life.
It’s been a rough stretch. What I didn’t expect was how significantly my sleep deprivation would impact other areas of my life.
I have zero energy to be social, return phone calls, or even open texts and emails. When the evening finally comes around and the kids are in bed, it’s all I can do to muster enough energy to shut the curtains, brush my teeth, and collapse into bed. When I look at my phone and see that there are 12 new texts I haven’t read, I honestly feel like checking them would be the equivalent of running a marathon in the desert, so I just sleepily shut off the light and close my eyes, thinking that maybe tomorrow I will have the energy to get back to everyone.
I’ve forgotten important commitments. Any “pregnancy brain” forgetfulness I had when my son was in the womb is nothing compared to the sleep deprivation brain fog I have now. The worst offense I’ve committed so far was not showing up to a volunteer event I had signed up for…I was one of three people scheduled to help distribute weekend food packs to hungry children at a local elementary school…yeah, I felt like a complete moron for missing that one.
The house is
a mess, a disaster, should be condemned not looking how I’d like it to. That’s all I want to say about that.
And I think the worst part of this stage of life is how lonely and isolating it can feel. It seems from the outside that everyone else’s kids are sleeping. Families with children born around the same time as our son have stopped talking about how tired they are and instead they talk about fun family outings they have had and upcoming vacations they are planning. Their lives seem to be going forward while mine seems to be stuck. And it’s a weird stuck, too. My kids are growing and changing and I see that mark of time passing, yet I still feel like the mom of a newborn because I have so little energy for anything above just surviving.
There have been a few glimmers of hope that this will not last forever. On the really good nights when I collect 6 or 7 hours of sleep, wow – look out world! I tend to rock my life on those days, and that gives me hope that once I start getting consistent, good sleep again, the pieces of my life that seem broken down right now will be up and running again.
Until then, I raise my coffee mug to all of you other mamas going through this storm of sleep deprivation. Hang on. We’ll get through this together. From one mama of a non-sleeping child to another, you are not alone. We’ll be okay and we will sleep again someday.