Monday, April 26, 2010

4:50: A Night in the Life of a Mother

4:50.  That is how many hours and minutes of total sleep I had last night.  Did anyone ever know what a precious commodity sleep was until they became a mother?  I doubt it.  I remember understanding why Paul included in his list of sufferings sleeplessness after I had Ella.  Sleeplessness is a type of suffering.  And no one understands it like a mother, either.  I'm not talking about one sleepless night or even two.  I'm talking about the toll on your body after 3 months of getting up 4 times in the night to go to the bathroom and being too huge to get comfortable and sleep, followed by 7 months of 3 hours here and 4 hours there.  That has been my life for the past year.  I think I have slept through the night once in the past year.  

Last night was by far the worst, though.  We went to bed at 10:45 (I know I could have gone earlier), and I was awakened from a deep sleep at 12:25 by James' crying.  He has been waking up in the middle of the night periodically lately.  Usually he will sleep until sometime between 4:30 and 5:30, and I can nurse him and put him back down until about 8, but that was not to be last night.  I tried rocking him and putting him down.  I had time to go to the bathroom before he was crying again.  So, I went back in and nursed him and changed his diaper and tried rocking him back to sleep.  His head was up staring at the light in the hall.  He wouldn't settle down, and I was falling asleep in the chair, so I thought:  "I will get KJ."  It's not often I can call on him in the night because I am usually the one James needs, but I had already done what only I can do, so I was calling in reinforcements.  I put James down at 1:10 and went back to bed, telling KJ that James was still awake and if he cried it was his turn.  Oddly, we didn't hear anything for 20 minutes when I rolled over and said, "Do you think he went to sleep?"  At which point the crying commences.  

So, KJ gets up and goes in there, but the crying does not abate, so mother that I am I go back and take over.  He goes back down asleep at 1:50, and I go in the den to calm myself down so I can go back to sleep.  KJ is still awake when I get back to bed, and by that point he needs something to eat and drink, too, and so perhaps I go back to sleep around 3, hardly daring to hope that maybe I won't hear from James until 6:30 or 7.  5:30 rolls around and James begins crying again.  So once more I tend to business.  KJ says he doesn't think he ever really went back to sleep, and I feel completely desperate.  I finally get James back to sleep at 6:30 and go back to bed, knowing that Ella usually wakes between 7 and 7:20.  6:50- knock, knock, knock....Ella is awake.  Really?

But Ella is a grown-up girl, and I know she can handle that mommy and daddy are still tired, so I take her to the bathroom, fix her drink and cereal, put in Charlotte's Web and go back to bed, hoping that perhaps we could sleep for one more hour.  I started to drift when I thought I heard a baby crying.  Surely I was imagining things.  He'd only been asleep 45 minutes, and he'd been awake most of the night.  But, sure enough, Ella enters the room at 7:18 to say that James is awake.  I lie there helplessly hoping that it will all go away.  KJ says he can get up, but I feel guilty at that because I think he's been lying awake half the night.  I told him to just put James in the exersaucer, so he did and came back to  bed.

Are we bad parents?  Our 3-year-old and nearly 7 month old are chillin' in the living room by themselves while we barricade ourselves under the covers.  But don't worry.  It didn't last long.  Ella came in a few minutes later and said, "Moo-mm-y...I can't take care of James by myself."  Smile.  "You need to get up!"  KJ said, "Mommy and Daddy were awake a lot in the night."  "But it's morning time!"

So, here we are.  My sweet husband is getting ready for work, and I hear James crying from his room again. I am almost past caring, but not quite, because I am a mother, and I have the super-power of taking care of everyone and everything with no sleep whatsoever.


  1. I totally would have done the same thing! And I would bet money that my mom has pulled the, let-the-four-year-old-take-care-of-the-baby-while-I-catch-up-on-lost-sleep with Hillary and me. I hope you can get in some napping!

  2. I absolutely have!!!! Those were the sweetest and hardest days - it is SO much easier being a grandmother (I know that's not much to hold on to right now)! Anyway, when Bethany was 6, Hillary was 2, and Tori was less than a about 8 months old - Bethany made me a Mother's Day card at Sunday School. It was written out and they let the kids fill in things mom's favorite thing to eat is, drink is, my mom is ? years old, and on my mom's favorite thing to do is she put....take a nap!!!! And it was!!! I was one who had NEVER been able to sleep during the day! Suddenly I would pop a movie in, lie down on the sofa and tell Bethany to "watch" Hillary and listen for Tori - those were some exhausting days!!! Press on Lynn - you are a "real" mother and are doing the same thing any exhausted mother would do! I will pray for a little extra sleep for you!!!

  3. Thank you, Winter girls! I could never sleep in the day before, either. I always feel like I'm wasting a day. Nights are for sleeping. Ella did allow me to sleep for a little while this afternoon. I bribed her with chocolate, Nickelodeon and a new shirt from Wal-Mart.

  4. hahaha oooo mommyhood! lord give us courage and strength!!!! wow! sweet lynn youare not a bad mom! have you tried teethign tablets? b and knox both cut their 1st toother at 7 months..2-4 of those tablets and miraculously..sleep commenced! only at CVS walgreens or rite aid..with the baby you hugs to you!

  5. Lynn, you are in my prayers! I hope all of you can start to get some much needed rest soon! If you ever need someone to come play with the kids in the afternoon so you can nap, call me! :)