It’s no secret among our family and friends that nighttime around here is anything but a restful time. Those of you who have ever stayed overnight with us know all too well the insane number of wake-ups and disruptions. Someone is crying or calling out “Mamaaaaaaa!” nearly every hour until daybreak.
It has been this way for the past 6 years.
Milo started sleeping through the night (hard) merely weeks before Oliver was born. And Oliver has just never been a good sleeper. He is three-and-a-half now, and still wakes up two or three times a night needing reassurance that someone is there: a drink of water, a tuck-in, or just to see with his own eyes that his parents still exist, haven’t up and vanished in the night.
Emil is the same. He is easy-as-pie to get back to sleep, but has yet to learn the self-soothing techniques necessary to awaken, then settle back in on his own. I am to blame, surely. Co-sleeping until 8 months, breastfeeding on-demand until 17 months, etc. I parented by following my instincts, not books and experts on parenting. It never felt right to let my babies cry, so I responded, maybe a little too quickly. I suppose Andrew and I both fall somewhere on the wide range of attachment parenting styles, and because of it I think our boys are incredibly independent, sure of themselves, and confident in their physical capabilities. They are secure. But they don’t sleep well.
The disruption is affecting my mood and ability to function, I swear. The longest stretch of sleep I have gotten in the past 6 years is 3 hours. 3 HOURS! And while we are all functioning, I know I would be feeling better (fewer headaches, less of a need for caffeine in my waking hours, more energy, a less depressed mood) if I were sleeping better.
A week ago, Oliver slept through the night. 12 hours in a row, not one wake-up. And though Emil was still up a few times, I noticed a marked difference in my mood the next morning. Oliver was also much happier and more agreeable.
Then. Then, both Oliver and Emil developed double ear infections AND pneumonia (yes, both of them have double ear infections, both of them have pneumonia) and all hope for rest flew right back out the window. I spent the week trying desperately not to lose my mind while fighting sleep deprivation- carrying Emil or Oliver around, trying to make someone, anyone, comfortable while trying not to ignore a very healthy, spirited Milo and all of his needs for attention and conversation and food and exercise. On the fourth day of this, Emil refused all naps despite attempt after crazy-making attempt, while Oliver cried and cried and made demands which he didn’t really want, and threw himself on the floor and refused to sleep until the very second I put him in the car to pick up Milo from preschool. I locked myself in the bathroom exactly one time that day and screamed a sound usually reserved for monsters.
I am brutally aware of how impossibly childish this post sounds. If I were my ideal person, I would take all of this in stride, with grace, instead of whining and feeling sorry for myself. I would simply write about my poor little guys and how horrible they must feel being so sick (and I do feel that way, of course!). It would be about them. It would list ways of comforting them and ways of making them sleep peacefully. But I don’t have all of these answers. I don’t know how to feel better and stronger as a parent right now. I know these feelings of inadequacy and being overwhelmed will pass (probably with the passing of winter), but right now I am just in the thick of it and frankly, it sucks.
This weekend we are supposed to have beautiful weather. I am hoping with all my might that I can escape the house for an hour or two and shrug off all the weight that has been resting on my shoulders, if only for a while. And sorry for being such a downer. It’s just life, sometimes.