Thursday, December 19, 2013

sleep training, part I

"sleep training." apparently, among the parenting set, this is a nice way to describe different levels of letting your baby/kid cry themself to sleep until they learn to "self soothe" and, ideally, stop using sleep deprivation as an instrument of torture on their parents. or maybe there's a more official definition. i don't know. all i know is that when friends say "we're sleep training," i vaguely assume it involves crying on both the part of the baby and the mother. i didn't "sleep train" my kids per se. i was too much of a wimp to go full-on Ferber/CIO so Jack didn't sleep through the night until 10 months, and regressed at a year and a half when his sister was born, and didn't totally recover until, like, yesterday. colby was one of those mythical angel babies that, when i had J, i didn't believe existed. i actually had to wake her up to feed her. once the doctor said we could stop doing that (around 3 or 4 weeks i think), she would sleep from 9 to 4am or so, and by 10 weeks she was sleeping 10-12 hours a night. she still sleeps like a champ unless she's sick or teething. [< editor's note. goddammit already. i had this draft sitting around for a month and in that month my sleepy angel baby has turned into, in the words of emerson, a curly, dimpled lunatic - at bedtime, and at 2, 3 and 4am. WHYYYYYYY. her curly dimpled lunatic-ness i HIGHLY contagious. i am still a wimp re: crying it out, but i am reaching the end of my rope. will report back whether desperate times call for desperate measures.]

but see, i'm gonna pull a bait-and-switch here, because this post is not about "sleep training" my kids. i'm talking about sleep training me.

unfortunately, insomnia isn't really that funny, so i apologize in advance for the lack of hilarity.

sleeping is basically one of my most favorite things in the entire world. but i SUCK at it. it has gotten progressively worse over the years... first college, then law school, then getting married, then being a lawyer, then being pregnant, then having a kid, then having two kids...

i remember when i was little my parents made a rule that i couldn't get out of bed until the sun came up, and i would just lie there, waiting, until i could see the tiniest tinge of daylight through my curtains.

as i got older, i got even pickier about my sleep environment. whenever i would sleep over at friends' houses, i would sleep restlessly through the night, and wake up at o'dark hundred, again lying in bed, waiting, wondering how my friends could sleep so peacefully, well after the sun had risen, with my feet in their face.

at the beginning of college, i did crew, which meant waking up at 4am for practice. i was still adjusting to dorm life (a process took approximately 9 months), so i wasn't getting to bed until 2 or 3am most nights, and since i knew i had to get up in an hour or two, i rarely slept. this meant that on the days i didn't have 8am class (and let's be honest, even some of the days i did), i came home after practice to PTFO from 8am until 2pm, which was really really sad actually, because they stopped serving waffles in the cafeteria at 2, and it just seemed so hard to get there in time. later on in college i worked in a restaurant/bar/night club and often didn't get home from work until 3 or 4. depending on whether/when i had class and work, i would just sleep half the day, or power through and crash out in the afternoon. clearly these were not healthy sleep habits. but i wrote it off as "college."

in law school, i got into the habit of sleeping from 4am to 8am, and then again from 4pm to 8pm. in between my two hefty "naps" i subsisted solely on milk duds and freddos (aka crackachinos) from Peets Coffee, plus the occasional taco or burrito from Jimboy's or Chipotle. on top of my sleep psychoses, i had underlying medical issues that were making matters much worse (little sleep + lots of stress = extra sick). i knew the current situation was insane and even spoke with my doctor about it, but couldn't be bothered to implement the strict sleep protocol he'd suggested (nor give up caffeine, sugar, all-night cram sessions, or marathon binges on law-and-order SVU and true crime shows on A&E).

after we took the bar, DM and i moved to puerto rico to wait out the results. maybe it was just the effect of coming down off of 3-8 years of sustained sleep deprivation and jacked-up sleep habits, maybe it was the uber efficient AC and metal hurricane blackout blinds, maybe it was copious amounts of rum, but suddenly, i had NO TROUBLE sleeping AT ALL. we were on a $20 air mattress on the tile floor, and yet we would regularly sleep 'til noon, and wake up, still tired, thinking, wha??? how is it the afternoon already?!? it may not have been the best "sleep hygiene," but man was it guh-lorious.

we moved back stateside after passing the bar, and i went to work for a sole practitioner. the environment was... unconventional, to say the least. the weird-ass working conditions definitely didn't help my stress levels. in addition, my employer had big firm expectations re: billable hours and mcdonald's purse strings re: salary. it sucked. i was sick all the time. i slept like shit. i was miserable every morning, both because i was exhausted and because i dreaded going to work. in the midst of this DM and i got married which was basically the biggest stressor in my life up to that point (thank GOD pinterest did not exist back then). i don't think i slept from march to june 2008, instead spending my nights making napkin rings and trying to find a happy medium between my wishes (an intimate, fifty person affair) and my dear husband and his family (who wanted to invite the entire state of delaware and the majority of the population of iran). brutal.

after a couple of years i got out of crazy town and started working for myself. this had it's own set of stresses (i am a terrible schmoozer), but honestly, i didn't feel pressured to go out and pound the pavement and bring in six figures, so i found some clients and did some work, but i also took naps and read books and hung out at the beach and the pool. i think, after factoring in my expenses, i made approximately $17 in 2010. i had also managed to get myself knocked up during this time, so aside from the small issue of how we were going to pay for this child, it was good timing. my health was improved, and at least until i got too uncomfortable to do so, i slept. then.... J was born, and a year and a half later, his baby sister followed.

for the past 3 years, i have never been more tired, nor less capable of sleeping. maybe it's that i'm afraid i'll miss that little cry in the night. maybe it's because i'm too keyed up from juggling too many balls, burning the candle at both ends, being everything to everyone, etc etc etc. whatever it is. i do not sleep. seriously. it takes me hours to fall asleep, and if i ever actually do, i wake up again and again and can't get back to it. i wake up before my alarm goes off and lie there, angrily trying to threaten myself back into a peaceful sleep. not surprisingly, it doesn't work. most nights, i feel like i spent the entire time in that weird limbo phase between being asleep and being awake. i feel a seething sense of rage when my ever thoughtful husband "sneaks" in at 1:30 am when i am finally, JUST about to drift off, or when my dog click-click-clicks on the Pergo floors, or when they both serenade me in a surround-sound snoring symphony. it's nothing personal, but if you wake me up on the rare occasion that i am actually sleeping, be warned, life-threatening injuries are likely to occur.

i have tried SO MANY things over the years. i got acupuncture and massages. i researched and practiced transcendental meditation. i became certified in reiki and practiced on myself. i exercised. i did candlelight yoga. i stretched. i journaled. i sipped chamomile tea. i took melatonin, valerian root, kava kava, calms forte and every other herbal/homeopathic sleep aid on the market. and then i took every non-herbal OTC sleep aid, popping benadryl like candy, unisom, tylenol PM, etc etc etc. i counted sheep, and numerous other farm animals. we got a new mattresses, new sheets, new pillows, new sound machines, new curtains. i tried sleeping with my feet at the head of the bed, diagonal, perpendicular. i read books. i read boring depo transcripts. i sat in the dark. and waited. and waited. and waited. for sleep to finally come.

i'm still waiting . . .

to be continued . . .
"when you have insomnia, you're never really awake, and you're never really asleep...
with insomnia, nothing's real. everything's far away. everything's a copy. of a copy. of a copy."
- fight club

i better hurry up and figure this shit out before i create an alter ego
and start having disgusting sex with creepy helena bonham carter.

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