As a new mother, I was not a failure. But for the first 6 months until B started sleeping through the night I was certainly functioning at 20% capacity, a condition of living which left me feeling completely inadequate. As I slowly regained my sleep I became less careless at work, more attentive to my new baby, and more and more like myself. It was at that point I realized how vital sleep is to my mental and physical well being. I need sleep. At least 7-8 hours every night. I need it or I cannot function to my highest capability. Since B was born there have been two major occurrences of sleep depravation. The first from newborn to 6 months and the second from age 2-3 when she went through her mystifying and alarming stint of night terrors.
For one year, 365+ days, B would "awake" screaming every night around 2am. She wasn't really awake though. We realized this one night when, out of sheer exhaustion and bewilderment we began yelling at her to wake up. "BEATRICE! WAKE UP! STOP SCREAMING AND OPEN YOUR EYES! WAAAKE UUUP!!" Nothing. Eventually she would calm down and we'd lay her back down and resume our futile sleep pattern. This happened virtually every night.
Mornings were wretched. My first thought every morning as the alarm rang out was "I'll nap today. I'll nap as soon as I get home from work." But this was not to be. You cannot nap with a 2 year old running around the house. And I am the unfortunate sort of person who would choose not to 'nap while the baby naps,' but instead wash dishes, work out, fold laundry, and catch up on reading. All of this would leave me even more bereft of sleep and all but passing out on the couch at 8pm. It was misery. I do not wish prolonged sleep depravation on my worst enemy. Well, ok, maybe on my WORST enemy. After all, what else are worst enemies for?
This particular blog entry came about today as I was trying to nap on the couch. The house was wonderfully silent, B was occupied in her room, Smashy was dozing on the chair. I was warmly slipping off to napland. Then came the inevitable "Mom?" ugh. "Yes?" "Can you [insert request here]?" I took care of the girl while trying not to break the sleep spell that was upon me. I crawled back under the snuggie and drifted away. BARK BARK BARK The neighborhood dogs. Then some little kid yelling for his dog outside the front window. It was not to be. No nap. So I started day dreaming about bedtime. I love sleep. I need sleep. I am not afraid to admit this. I do not believe this trait renders me a lesser woman than those who only need 4 hours of sleep every night and still function to the highest degree. I accomplish the amazing every day tasks that keep my husband and child happy and functioning because I am happily well rested. I am healthy and energetic because of sleep. I more easily avoid sugary temptations during the day because of sleep. I am happiest when I sleep well. In short, sleep is good.