Sunday, July 13, 2008

One Hundred Years of Not Sleeping

I haven't written here for a few days because I've just been too tired. Seriously, the quality of sleep in this household right now is bordering on INSANE. Oh wait, maybe that's just what I'M bordering on. Ha! Lack of sleep will do that to you!

I feel like my house belongs in a Gabriel Garcia Marquez magical-realism novel. Really, do you remember One Hundred Years of Solitude, in which the Buendia family becomes cursed and unable to sleep for years at a time, the whole family enduring generations of insomnia, an entire saga of sleep-deprivation angst and grief? Um, yeah--that's my household. Except not really, because the patriarch of THIS family seems exempt from the troubles. It's the rest of us who might as well be up watching movies till 2 a.m., for all the good a normal bedtime is doing us.

So first there's Genevieve, who every other month or so embarks on a crusade to have all bedtimes banned. Her campaign mainly involves nonstop wailing and screaming upon being placed in her crib, for up to an hour at a time. I've said it before: when one hears the words "baby screaming nonstop for an hour at a time," one MIGHT--especially if one is not a parent, or not a parent of a baby anymore--think to one's self, Well, that sounds like a pain, but not all THAT intolerable. But I'm here to tell you this: MUCH WORSE THAN YOU CAN IMAGINE, WHEN YOU ARE ACTUALLY EXPERIENCING IT.

This time around, Genevieve has added naptime to her official docket of Things To Scream About. So we get to go through this twice per day instead of just once.

Then there's the Great Black-Out Blind Solution, an adventure that commenced, oh, about a hundred years ago, when we gave a lot of money to Menard's and tearfully begged them to rescue us from the 16-hour-long daylight that has apparently convinced our baby that no one should be sleeping, ever. Turns out Menard's is incompetent, and not only did they deliver our custom-ordered super-black-out blinds three weeks late (three weeks! that's like 12 years in baby-not-sleeping years!), but when Christopher installed them yesterday morning to our imagined background soundtrack of an angel choir singing hallelujahs of joy and relief, we discovered that THE BLINDS WERE NON-BLACK-OUTS, sent by mistake, and were rather some kind of blindingly-white light-producing panels of shimmering, glow-in-the-dark fairy dust. Making the nursery brighter than it was before we even had the damn blinds. Seriously: you could READ by these blinds.

Since, as we have already determined, Menard's is incompetent, they cannot rectify their mistake immediately. Which means that now we are attempting to put our girls to bed at night--in July, people, when 7 p.m. bears a striking resemblance to, oh, NOON--with the room lit up like a carnival.

Amidst all this screaming and window-non-blinding, Mother Nature threw in two days of violent thunderstorms, complete with shrieking winds, power outages, terrifyingly loud thunderclaps, flashing lightning, and clattering downpours. During naptime (day one) and nighttime (day two). Let's just say not a whole lot of sleep went down those two days.

As for me, one morning late last week I climbed down off my huge new bed, upon which I had been awake most of the night--tossing and turning, hot and uncomfortable--and hung my head in my hands, because WASN'T THIS NEW BED SUPPOSED TO SOLVE ALL MY SLEEP PROBLEMS? Why was my big new bed so hot? And squishy? Why could I not sleep on it? Did we get the wrong bed? (This, comfortingly, reminded me of a moment in Catherine Newman's pregnancy memoir Waiting for Birdy, when Catherine and her husband scrape up enough money to at last get a new mattress so poor Catherine can finally get some sleep and yet she remains sleepless, and breaks down in tears, wailing, "We bought a bad bed! We bought a BAD BED!" At which point Michael reminds her that perhaps the problem is simply that she is nine months pregnant.)

I thought to myself that if I couldn't sleep even on this huge luxurious new bed, it would mean that clearly I would never sleep again, and therefore I would die. So I burst into tears.

Luckily my dear friend Connie suggested I try taking off the thick, quilted, cushy mattress pad I had bought for the top of the mattress, and see how the new bed felt then: cooler, firmer, more like how it felt in the store? THANK THE LORD IN HEAVEN, YES. If Connie had been nearby, I would have kissed her.

But still. It's not pretty, insomnia in the house of a young family. The babes become overtired and sink further and further into sleep deficit, which any pediatric sleep expert knows leads, paradoxically, to even less sleep. Mama becomes irrational, even more short-tempered than usual, and fatalistic ("I will never sleep again. I cannot do the job of a stay-at-home mom without sleep. I may die."). Daddy does a lot of heavy sighing (and yet! he can sleep fine! no matter what! ALL THE TIME). It begins to feel rather desperate, like no one will ever fall asleep at a normal time again, nor sleep in past five a.m., nor take good naps. I'm still exploring just how difficult it would be to change out the giant mattress for the same model but extra-firm instead of medium. And that black-out shade is being re-ordered.

I hope to report, sometime this summer, that the nursery is black as night, my new bed is firm and cool, and we're all sleeping hard and well. No more Buendia family hex.

Please. Please. Please. (Yawn.)


Mom said...

All I can say is...O My God! I am quite certain you can exchange your mattress at this point, and Menard's should be falling all over themselves to rectify their error and quickly! In the meantime, just keep in mind (if you still have one, that is) that no one has really ever died from lack of sleep. Eventually you will fall over in your extra-strength coffee and that will be it.

Shan said...

Uh...somehow I am not comforted. ;)

Christopher Tassava said...

Am I the patriarch? How come nobody calls me that to my face?

I feel kinda bad about being able to sleep no matter what, but then I remind mself that I'm not tall, strong, fast, handsome, or lucratively employed, so I'll just settle for being able to eat and sleep.

I'll be posting more on the dire sleep situation at my blog later, once I decide whether its feasible to boycott Menards forever.

Mnmom said...

1. Forget Menards! They are a giant chain and really don't care if you are happy or not. Get your money back and run away.
2. Call Donna at Bierman's here in town for shades. Tell her the Colangelo's sent you. She'll take good care of you! Pricier? yes, but worth every single penny.
3. Do WHATEVER it takes for you and Genv. to get some sleep. That includes putting her in your bed, or you sleeping on an air mattress in her room. Forget all the Dr. Ferber nonsense for now. YOU ALL NEED SOME SERIOUS SLEEP!! Once you have established the state of good restful nights, you can revisit returning to your respective beds and rooms. You are in a crisis situation and that calls for extreme measures.
4. Go see Jeannie Kanter at Allina Clinic for more sleep help. She is fabulous!
5. Lay off the caffeine for awhile, even in the morning.
6. When they nap, YOU NAP, always, every day, amen. Forget the laundry and the housework - it'll get done eventually. Home cleanliness isn't even in the ballpark with your physical and mental health.
7. Don't talk to any overachieving mothers in your generation about this. Chances are they are overachievers because they were blessed with milk-toast children. Only listen to advice from well seasoned Mom's. They are like war vets and can keep you focused on the big picture.

Mnmom said...

PS - next time I see Christopher I'll have to address him as the Patriarch.

Shan said...

MNmom, thank you a million times over for your thoughtful advice. I agree about the overachieving moms thing! It seems like every "overachieving" mom I know has had super easy babies! Not in this house!

The idea of laying off the caffeine makes me want to weep, but I KNOW you're right. I use it as a survival tactic to get through the day and then I can't sleep at night and I'm sure that is part of the reason. You realize, of course, that CHOCOLATE contains caffeine too. SO. UN. FAIR.

The good news is the furniture store is easily and kindly bringing us a firmer mattress on Saturday. I love our new mattress, I love our new bed, but it's not QUITE firm enough, and I need that fixed. Luckily, the store is 100% understanding about that and is making it happen.

As for everything else, I'll keep you posted. I know this will pass, but I'd like to still have my sanity intact when it does.

donna said...

I'd like to add a little to what MN Mom said...

Yes, chocolate has caffeine, but no where near the amount of caffeine that coffee has.

Beware the caffeine withdrawal headache. That is NOT going to help you any. Wean yourself off your coffee or you're going to PAY FOR IT at 2pm every day for a week!

Decaf coffee still has some caffeine, but not near the amounts of regular coffee. Sure, it doesn't taste the same, but it might help you in the long run (either in the weaning process - you can use a mixture of caf and decaf) or long-term.

You don't need to NAP when the kids nap, but for god's sake, at least sit down (or lie down), read and/or watch tv and/or do LEISURELY stuff on the computer (No bill paying!).

I'd recommend doing a temporary fix about the windows until you get the whole black-out window shade fiasco resolved. Who cares what it looks like? It's temporary.

HappyYogaMama said...

Until the blind thing is remedied, I'll give you a decorating tip from my hubby's college days... Blankets/quilts over the windows. The room was a like a vampire den. Ugly yet dark. Good luck to you!