Whose Bed Have Your Booties Been Under?

1.1.07: Sleep Eludes Us


I got two hours of sleep last night. Not in a row.

I'm trying to look at the bright side of things. Really, I am. For instance, it's given me a chance to catch up on all those late-night infomercials I was missing out on before. Last night, I was on the edge of my seat as a geriatric Elaine La Lanne loaded veggies into her Jack La Lanne Power Juicer with cheetah-like speed. I almost whipped out my credit card to order a double batch of Proactiv solution after bearing witness to the miraculous transformation of P. Diddy's baby-soft skin. I'm hypnotized by the exercise infomercials—all those lean, toned bodies prancing across my TV screen wearing their Slendertone Ab Belts as I sink further into the couch, contemplating my own sagging abs and shoving fistfuls of Fritos into my mouth.

Contrary to the photographic evidence shown here, there hasn't been much sleep in the house since Charlie's come along. The boy does not sleep. He eats every two hours, then spends an hour afterwards grunting and groaning, arching his back in obvious pain as I bounce him, burp him, swaddle him, rock him, shush him, and generally try to comfort him. Every time he falls asleep, I try putting him down in the crib in an attempt to snag an hour of sleep for myself before he's ready to eat again, but he screams. So, the process begins again.

I am determined to teach Charlie to be a good sleeper, since we failed so miserably in this department with Julia. When Julia was a baby (it breaks my heart to write those words), I'd simply take her into our bed and nurse her, where we'd both happily fall back asleep. And there she stayedÂ…for two and a half years. When we found out Charlie was on the way, we made a big production out of Julia's "Big Girl" room in an effort to get her to sleep there. It's all pink and girly, with a big double bed on the floor and lots of what Julia calls "kwishy" pillows. The big girl room worked—sort of. It's just that one of us has to be in there with her. Since Charlie and I have been attached at the hip (and other places), Will usually lies down with Julia to read her a story. I'll come up an hour later to find Will passed out in the bed, as Julia sits awake flipping through her books and holding court with her stuffed animals. Some nights, I end up nursing Charlie in our bed, just to lie down for a bit. Then Julia will wake up in the middle of the night and come running into bed with me. I'm terrified that she'll roll over onto Charlie, or kick him in his soft spot (which our friend Maida irreverently calls "the off button"), so I go downstairs to the TV room with Charlie. Charlie ends up in the swing, rockin' out on the highest setting, which miraculously puts him to sleep. I end up passing out on the couch and having a nightmare about Charlie tumbling out of the swing. Will sleeps in the big girl room. Julia has the master bedroom. Something is wrong with this picture.

I happen to be one of those people who has always needed a good 10 hours of sleep a night. I'm not a nice person when I don't get to sleep. The other day, Will—who'd had a full night's sleep the night before— let loose with a big yawn and said: "I'm so tired." My head practically spun around like Linda Blair's as I spit bullets and shot fire bolts out of my eyes, snapping "You. Slept. All. Night." through clenched teeth. Poor Will. For the rest of the week, every time a yawn inadvertently escaped from his lips, he'd announce: "I'm not tired. NOT tired. Not me."

It kind of reminds me of the time we stayed at Will's dad's place when Julia was about two months old, when Will's dad greeted me in the morning with a sunny "Congratulations! I heard you all slept through the night." Again, the head spinning, as I spat out: "Who told you THAT?!" and wondered what planet the rest of the house had been on while I was up all night changing diapers, nursing, burping and shushing our crying baby.

Like I said, not a nice person.

Not to be overly dramatic, but I've taken to calling our house "Abu Rousmaniere" lately. I'm ashamed to admit that. I know this is terribly politically incorrect and extremely insensitive, but I just can't help myself right now. I mean, isn't sleep deprivation a well-documented form of torture? (And, let's not forget about the Chinese nipple torture.) I Googled "sleep deprivation as torture" and got this headline: "Brutal Torture in Shandong Province—Sleep Deprivation for 3 Weeks." Mmmm Hmmm. I also found a little tidbit about how the ancient Romans used tormentum vigilae—waking torture—to extract information from their enemies. I know I have no right to compare myself to anyone who's actually been tortured, but still sometimes late at night...my thoughts drift...

During one recent late-night Charlie-thon, I watched most of The Sopranos Season 6 on DVD. Amidst all the bashing of kneecaps and homosexuals, there was an ironically peaceful, Zen-like moment that brought me back down to earth. As Tony lay in a coma after a gunshot wound, someone posted the following above his hospital bed:

"Sometimes I go about in pity for myself, and all the while, a great wind carries me across the sky"— Ojibwe saying

Really, I am officially done kvetching.

Last night was New Year's Eve, and we didn't make it ‘til midnight. We spent a few hours at a friend's house and left before 10. Will and Julia went straight to bed. Charlie and I took up our regular posts on the couch and watched the ball drop on TV. At midnight, as all the couples in Times Square made out in front of the cameras, I leaned over, gave my baby boy a kiss on his soft, warm cheek, and thanked him for staying up with me to ring in the new year.

Join FitPregnancy.com's Managing Editor Dana Rousmaniere each week as she chronicles life with a new baby.

Read the next entry: 1.8.07: Good JuJu