I have a problem. It’s not a terrible problem, it’s not insurmountable, but it does really stink. My problem? I do not sleep well. I haven’t really slept well since my daughter was born. And I fear that I will never sleep well again. (Note: Long time readers may note that sleep, or lack thereof, is a common theme for us! See our previous blogs: Clarity at 2 am, Clarity at 3 am and Sleeping Disasters.

I should have seen this coming – the clues have been there all along.

I noticed that no women (especially mothers) over 40 seem to sleep well. They can’t settle down to sleep, or they wake up at odd hours of the night, or awaken ridiculously early and then can’t get back asleep.

Then, when I was pregnant with my first and just beginning my parenting journey, people gave lots of unsolicited advice: “Enjoy your sleep now because you won’t get any later!” Or “Sleep when the baby sleeps! The housework can wait!” Some just laughed and said, bluntly, “You’ll never rest well again”

Amusingly enough, when I was pregnant with my second, no one offered any advice. They just gave me the look that said “You poor sucker!”

However I blithely stepped into parenthood unconcerned, thinking, “How bad can it be, really?” Ah, so innocent was I! I underestimated children. I didn’t realize that children are egocentric – they don’t think about us losing sleep – they only know that they are awake and they need us.

A brief run down of the causes of my sleep deprivation:

My firstborn was a terrible sleeper. I was totally blown away by how terrible it was not to sleep. She redeemed herself at 10 months when she started sleeping 12 hours straight. This lasted until she was 2ish, and then she started waking up and coming into our bed to harass us. This is amplified now because she is gets up to pee at night and demands assistance….

My second was a wonderful sleeper – until 4 months, and he has been a pain in the bum ever since. He still wakes up at least once a night, refuses to go back to sleep unless I give him a bottle, and it has to be warm milk or he throws it at me…

So given the children’s propensity to wake up, my sleep is interrupted at least twice a night, and more often 3-4 times. I dislike the fact that I am tired, short tempered, and I look like crap because I am not getting enough beauty sleep. In fairness, I do not suffer alone. My husband wakes up too. This is unfortunate because I can’t even feel sorry for myself in the morning, because he is grumpy and sleep deprived too!

I am reassured by friends with older children who tell me that this tapers off around 6 or 7 years old. I look forward to this seemingly distant future when I may be allowed some rest. Oh, but only until they turn 16 or whenever the first kid in the group gets his driver’s license! Then the sleeplessness starts anew!

Sweet dreams!

January 6, 2009