Wednesday, March 16, 2011

to sleep, perchance to dream

Read any diet or health book. From Atkins (mostly protein) to the Hollywood Cookie Diet (just cookies?) to Oprah's latest find, there is controversy even over the amount of water to drink. The only directive they have in common is: get 8 hours of restful sleep. Since my first wonderful child joined us 12 years ago, I have not had 8 hours of restful sleep. In fact, lately the baby- who will be 2 in the summer- wakes up 2 or 3 times a night needing a bottle. Even when her father takes over responsibility, I still wake up. I can feel my heart racing every time she makes a peep. So how does a mom get 8 hours of sleep for her health and well-being? 
And it gets worse...for those women that follow the Sympto-thermal method of NFP, one of the important markers of monthly fertility and infertility is a shift in morning temperatures. One must take the temperature at the same time every morning, preferably with the same amount of sleep being had. I know for myself, I can never anticipate the amount of continuous sleep I will get. I have friends with many more than 4 kids with the baby and toddler stages going on for two decades, and I do wonder about the affect these years of sleep deprivation and disruption has on our health.
Being a mom is the most important part of my life; to have the shared responsibility over four young souls is an awesome responsibility. I am well-aware of what blessings they are to me and the rest of society. This past weekend, however, has been especially difficult with minor (thank God!) illness that has made sleep even crazier. Saturday was the performance of Macbeth that the big girls have been working on since October. They had to forgo Saturday evening Liturgy, and the rest of us missed the other classes' works, but we made it to Macbeth. Father had to leave after awhile; the little kids could handle the weird sisters but not the spooky music while Macbeth was speaking.  This past Monday, priest-husband and I were to give a two-hour presentation on the married priesthood in the East with a former Anglican priest, ordained Roman-rite priest with his wife. But we couldn't find a babysitter. So I stayed home and will remain a woman of mystery to the 150 people in attendance. So I can't really blog about the talk because I wasn't there. I surmise that much of it was about the fact that we aren't Orthodox and that a priest cannot be married (order of sacraments) and many of the questions were about it was a wee bit frustrating that I couldn't be there. Perhaps it was for the best; I can be opinionated.
"To sleep, perchance to dream"- Hamlet, my favorite melancholic, said this a long time ago and in very different circumstances. I don't want to rush my children into growing up, but maybe I would like to rush the little one into sleeping through the night. So- to help my attitude, I am offering up this struggle for some blogosphere 'friends'- one pregnant with twins (wishing her many years of sleepless nights!) and one with a little one in the hospital.


  1. the wee bairn may be coming home tomorrow and the ng tube comes out tonight.

  2. There is one method that works well ― give the children away to unsuspecting relatives for a week.

    Many years ago my younger sister decided that we should take our eldest sister's two children (4 and 2 at the time) on a holiday for a week to our parents. Our sister and her husband had a very relaxed week, and we were then held responsible for the arrival of number 3 the following September.

    Despite this, visits from younger relatives have been a regular, and enjoyable occurrence.

  3. There was a time when I know I did not sleep through the night for five years straight. It really does affect you. You can function like that for a little while, but your body demands sleep. So, I really do understand.

    Just a thought, could you put the toddler in the bed with you for just a couple of nights? Would that help her stay asleep and therefore not need the bottle? Maybe if you could get a few nights sleep you might be able to deal with breaking the middle of the night bottle habit? And I understand that also. My daughter (now nine) took a middle of the night bottle until she was 15 months old. It was pretty tiring.

  4. Ella is still not a good sleeper (she's 5). Nearly every night she wakes at 9 with a night terror -those break my heart because she screams for me like she's being murdered. Then she will often wake around 2-3 am either needed a hug or a bite to eat. Usually it only takes a minute to settle her, but sometimes she wakes so fully that it's 45 minutes before I get back to bed.

    Hopefully we can both get a good night sleep :)


  5. This is timely. I have been struggling lately with the lack of sleep I have had since we adopted our first child 5.5 years ago. People think that since we adopted older toddlers that the sleeping through the night was not an issue. Ha! I have yet to put together a string of 3 straight nights of restful sleep. My kids all have various sleep issues that regularly mean night time wakings. I feel old and wrecked, and frankly, am not having as positive an attitude about raising my children as you are having. I love them, but for the love of all that is holy, I want 8 hours of sleep EVERY night. :)

    Please pray for me. I'm a bit grumpy this week. My Lenten commitments mean that my usual form of energy is not available to me.

  6. thanks for all the comments- I now this will get better- usually for me it takes about 3.5 years and then my kiddo sleeps from 9 to 7:30- not bad, so I have hope!

    jen- praying for you- and you (and kasclar) and baby are my intentions when I want to go a bit crazy over the sleep deprivation- there is no reason to suffer (even though I know my suffering is minimal) if you don't offer it up for an intention!

  7. bear- that sounds like a great idea! sadly, we are 900 miles from my family and 10,000 (?) from his family....I won't tell you who babysat while I was giving birth to baby #2- then you would realize how small and poor our eparchy is :)

  8. I feel for you. I have 5 children 8 and under right now. I said to my husband and 4:45 this morning "I'm having the best night's sleep I've had in ages." The fact that I said (and meant) that at 4:45 this morning was something we laughed about at 6:30 when we were *supposed* to be awake. It is fleeting, I know, but right now, in the throes of it, it seems never ending. I love babies and toddlers, but I often find myself looking forward to the day when my youngest is 4. Life will be perfect then, right? The thing I miss the most is the ability to concentrate on anything requiring focus.

  9. I heard that once you have children you never sleep again, because there is always something that will awaken a mother's heart in the night. It is the instinct that keeps our children alive.


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