Category Archives: Sleeplessness

Bedtime play.

The girls were so tickled by my retelling of the events that led to their brother charging into their bedroom the other night, that I thought it best to capture the moment here before it’s soon forgotten. 

Typically, Rowan falls asleep nursing. Calmly and dependably usually. However, the past few days he’s been like a wild animal at bedtime. It could be due to the fact he’s overtired since we’ve been on vacation time. Or maybe it’s the opposite—he’s getting older and just doesn’t require as much sleep. Or maybe I can just blame it on my usual culprit—teething. Who really knows. 

Anyway, the other night, after Rowan had performed several acrobatic feats while somehow miraculously staying latched, he’d decided he was going to be finished with the nursing business, yet remain quite wide awake. 

We played a little game of turn-taking, with me asking him to put his head down and him saying a whiny ‘no.’ Then, he’d proceed to roll around on the bed. Following that, he crawled way down under the covers until he disappeared, popped his head out, and then crawled back in again. He also spun around in circles, breakdance style, stopping with his head at the opposite end of the bed and doing a few—nicely executed I might say—rounds of downward dog. 

Across the hall, he heard Liam begin reading bedtime stories to the girls and he stilled to listen. Then, he crawled backwards down off the bed and headed for the door, not wanting to miss out on any fun they might be having without him. 

“No,” I warned firmly. He disregarded me and walked to the door leading to the connecting bathroom. He jiggled the knob this way and that, unable to maneuver his small wrist the quarter turn necessary to pop open the door.

Not one to give up quickly, he tried the other bedroom door, which led to the hallway. Jiggle jiggle. Jiggle jiggle. No luck.

So, he climbed back into bed, which is generally a real struggle and fun to watch, with the joint effort of hands gripping the sheets and feet kick-climbing up the mattress.

Then, we began again:

“Rowan, put your head down.”

“No.”

“It’s time for bed. You need to close your eyes.”

“No.”

Roll around. Under the covers and out again. Spin, spin. Crawl backwards down from the bed. Walk to bathroom door. Jiggle jiggle. Doesn’t budge. Walk to hallway door. Jiggle jiggle. No luck. Climb and scurry back into bed. Repeat, repeat.

After about five rounds of in and out of bed, he finally managed to jiggle jiggle one of the doors open. He took two seconds to look back at me as if asking permission. I gave him a stern look, although how I wasn’t cracking up, I don’t know. He took my lack of words as a go-ahead, and wasted no more time. He headed off in the direction of the girls’ room.

I heard them all squeal when they saw him: “Rowan?! What are you doing in here?”

He was pleased as punch to be there, and did not appreciate at all being removed a minute later. As I had had quite enough of his bedtime shenanigans, I let Liam take over. Of course, he had Rowan to bed in under ten minutes then. “It’s because you don’t walk him around,” he explained when I gave him a disdainful look.

No, I don’t. It’s not the mother’s job to walk the kid around. It’s the mother’s job to nurse if she chooses. And if that doesn’t work, well hell if I’m going to do anything extra. 

Anyway, I climbed into bed with the girls and told them all about how Rowan jiggle-jiggled the doors about a hundred times, climbing back into bed between rounds, before opening one and making his great escape. Their giggles were proof they were so genuinely delighted by the imagined actions of their little brother. I couldn’t help but laugh along with them.

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You. Have. GOT. To. Be. Effing. Kidding. Me.

The past few days have quite possibly been the most trying of my entire life. I know that’s a pretty bold statement, considering I’ve had my heart broken a few times, lost beloved grandparents, survived taking an engineering physics class, run half of a marathon, biked over major mountains in Vietnam, and birthed three giant babies without pain medication (some of the more trying life events that come right to mind).

I’ll be the first to admit that I get stressed out pretty easily. But I also pride myself on being able to juggle many balls in the air, so to speak, without dropping one. That being said, there has been ball juggling and dropping galore in recent days, and if just one more ball hits the floor, I’m afraid I’m going to need to check into one of those rehab houses used by Hollywood celebs for physical exhaustion, or whatever it is they claim to need help with.

OK. So let’s get into the recent events at our house. Things all began to go south this past Thursday. Liam and I noticed some swelling and redness that had begun to form around the little guy’s circumcision site, which only days before had looked great and seemed to have healed up nicely. I called the pediatrician’s office to describe the blister-like swelling, and they said they wanted to see Rowan, so I made an appointment for later in the day.

Then, while the kids and I were still at home, Frances, our middle child, started with a fever, general crankiness, and complete loss of appetite. And the oldest, Nora, had refused to take a nap. It was shaping up to be a good afternoon.

At the pediatrician’s office, I started to worry when the doctor asked if I minded her getting another doctor with whom to consult and check out the little guy’s bits. Of course, the doc was gone from the room for about ten minutes, which seemed like eternity to me since I had to entertain and distract an almost naked newborn who needed to be held, nursed, and walked around, an ill toddler who was grumpy and also wanted to be nursed and held, and a cranky, chatty, ants-in-her-pants preschooler who was bordering on defiant (this is what no-napping does to her).

While I paced the small office with the little guy, while simultaneously trying to verbally comfort the toddler and shoo away the preschooler, I prayed for patience, peace and quiet, and for the damned doctors to just get the hell in the room already.

When they finally arrived, the tag-teaming duo agreed that our boy will essentially need to have a fresh circumcision performed by a urologist when he turns a year old, since skin had begun to grow on his penis and reattach itself from where it had once been cut. What?!?! This will be done under general anesthesia, they explained. Again, What?!?!

When I asked what had happened, the docs explained that it was just the way Rowan’s body had healed. No fault of ours or the doctor who performed the circumcision. Hmmm.

You might imagine how this all made me feel once I tell you I never wanted a circumcision for our boy in the first place. Why mess with nature? I asked my husband. He won’t look different from other boys. Lots of parents aren’t circumcising their kids these days, I argued.

In the end, I let Liam decide and told him I would support his choice. Grrrr…I tried and succeeded to withhold any I told you so’s when I explained to him what the doctors had said. He offered, “I bet you’re wishing we hadn’t had him circumcised.”

Um, that would be a yes.

Moving on to Thursday night then. Once we got the kids to bed, we started getting ready for bed ourselves. As I was brushing my teeth, I began to feel nauseous. Perhaps it was just the three chocolate Easter egg candies I’d eaten, I thought.

Negative on the candies being the cause of the nausea. Three hours later, around midnight, I began a hardcore puking fest that lasted off and on six or more times until five in the morning. I’m grateful Liam was able to come lay in bed with us to keep an eye on the kids and on me as I alternatively puked and nursed, nursed and puked a feverish toddler and an unsuspecting newborn.

I was worthless Friday, so Liam stayed home from work. Again, grateful. Frances still ran a fever (which she will do, as she refuses all kinds of medicines). Gratefully, she nursed well, so I didn’t have to worry about her continuing to not eat or become dehydrated.

Nora then developed a crazy runny nose. It got so bad, she utterly destroyed two boxes of tissues, and grew a red, raw rash that extended from below her nose and up to her cheekbones on both sides of her face. We gave her some Benadryl, rubbed her face full of Vaseline, and sent her to bed.

I then went to bed hoping that the two bananas and two pieces of toast—all the solid food that I was able to force in my body that day—would be enough to sustain us, the breastfeeding trio, through the night. At least Frances’s fever had broken.

Around one in the morning, Frances got sick. She only puked twice, and it wasn’t nearly as violent or plentiful as my episodes had been. Grateful. And, we didn’t need to change the sheets. Again, grateful. See how I’m trying to find the positives, here?

Saturday morning everyone seemed well enough, but for me. Overnight, I had gotten a migraine headache that was just wicked. I thought my brain might be swelling and my body shutting down, having decided it was depleted, exhausted, and just plain done with life for good.

I chugged some much needed glasses of water and Gatorade, and then, a cup of coffee. Next, I forced myself to eat a lovely meal of spinach and eggs, peanut butter toast, and Ibuprofen (thank you, husband!). I showered, went back to bed, and woke up an hour later feeling like a million bucks, thanks be to God.

It was good timing too, since Liam’s brother and sister had just arrived from Connecticut and Massachusetts, respectively, to meet the baby for the first time.

Gratefully, Saturday and most of Sunday passed without incident. I seemed to be better, though my appetite still hadn’t returned. Frances was still striking on solid foods, but nursing well. Nora’s nose continued to run like a sprinkler, and she developed a loud, hacking cough.

We enjoyed a really great visit with Liam’s family. It was so nice, in fact, I burst into tears the moment after they left to head home. I’m sure my emotional state was made worse by lack of sleep and the stress of the past few days, but it’s hard living away from family and not getting to see them very often. Guess I should be grateful I enjoy my in-laws so much!

Moving right along. This brings us up to last night. Right before bed, Liam started looking pale and concerned.

“Are you feeling sick?” I asked.

“Maybe I’m just hungry,” he said hopefully.

I think deep down, we both knew what was in store. Sure enough, soon after midnight, Liam got sick. And then, Frances had a relapse. Again, we didn’t need to change sheets, only pajamas. I’m not sure I was feeling grateful at that point though, truth be told.

After we got cleaned up, Nora began a hacking fit in the other room, which led me to run the shower on full heat to create a steam room in the bathroom. I grabbed her from bed, even though she was half asleep, and sat with her on the toilet until her coughing subsided.

It was then that I wondered about the superpowers of mothers and all they are capable of doing despite not being totally well themselves, both emotionally and physically. Even when I think I can do absolutely no more, I somehow rise up and do what needs to be done to take care of my loved ones. It’s instinctual. And kind of amazing.

OK. Almost there.

This morning, Frances started with the cough and cold. Only, unlike her older sister, she is incapable of blowing her nose and generally taking care of herself. In fact, she is helpless and hopeless. She wanders around the house trailing Liam and me whining and exclaiming, “Runnies!” every time her nose begins to drip. Or, “Hold me! Hold me!” It is insane how much you can both love and be utterly repulsed by your children in the same instance. When I heard her whining ‘Runnies!’ for the hundredth time today I silently raged, “Will you please just shut the fuck up?!” while simultaneously gently dabbing at her nose and after offering her a genuine hug, full of empathy and all the comfort I could muster.

Liam didn’t head into the office again today, but he’s been working from home. I think the pukes are behind him, but he’s still pretty unwell. And pale.

I am happy to report that as of this writing, I feel ninety-five percent myself, not including the extra postpartum pounds my body is carrying, but you know what I mean.

Sadly, just in the past few hours, Nora has gotten the stomach bug too (insert exasperated emoji face, here).

Before the real deal, she must have run to the toilet fifteen times thinking she was going to be sick. For many of those fake-out times I was in the bathtub trying to relax. I found myself wondering as she cried wolf—I mean, pukes—if and when she finally did get sick, would it be callous and irresponsible of me to continue enjoying my bath through it all? I mean, she’s so mature and capable for her age. Surely she could see herself through the pukes while I continued to enjoy my soak?

In the end, about the fortieth time she came running dramatically—”Aaahhhh! Aaahhh!”—to the toilet, she did let loose all over the rug and her foot, in addition to the inside and outside of the toilet bowl. You’ll be happy to hear I did heft myself out of the bathtub to hold back her hair and gently rub her back, while offering words of comfort and encouragement (though it should be noted I did briefly consider staying put and coaching her from the warm water). Poor girl.

So. What’s left? I’m sure Nora has more in store for us tonight. One time of the vomits cannot be all there is for her. The baby, miraculously, has remained well—apart from the stress of needing a brand new circumcision in a year. I am hoping against all hope that he stays well. Given our luck, though, and the contagiousness of this stomach bug, I am sure we will deal with him soon enough.

At one point today Liam and I just looked at each other like we were ready to give it all up. Throw in the towel.

“Just don’t leave me,” he said, only half jokingly.

I laughed. As if I even had time to consider divorce! Although. Mexico had crossed my mind.

“If we can make it through the next few days, we can make it through anything,” I promised.

The question remains though: Can we make it? Or will one more unlucky event unhinge us both and require the local Children and Youth Agency to come and remove our children from our home? 

Please, everyone, get well. Before the rats catch on that we have food scraps aplenty collecting on plates and other dishes on our counters and tables. Before the film crew from Hoarders shows up at our front door, mistaking our house full of cluttered shit for a house with real issues. Before I run out of clean underwear. Please, get well!

I’m hopeful we’ll get through it.

A summary of the past twenty-four-ish hours.

The bad and the ugly:

      1. Woke up at 11:30 last night to Frances coughing. Realized moments later she was going to puke, woke up Liam, got her to the trash can ten seconds too late.
      2. Into the bathroom for clean-up of hands and face. Pajama change for Frances.
      3. Back to bed, armed with giant kitchen bowl (since most of trash can got the first batch and was sitting in the bathroom reeking away).
      4. Rested in bed with tossy-turny baby, eyes closed, though no sleep came.
      5. Repeat of puking six more times until 5:45 a.m., with a two-hour sleeping period from 3:30 until 5:45 a.m., where in-between responsibilities included: mom holding Frances and bowl, dad cleaning out bowl of puke, washing up kid’s face and hands, changing pajamas (two more times), sheets (one time) and pillowcases (twice). Also, had to somewhat wash Frances’s hair, though how she managed to get barf on the back of her head I still can’t quite figure out.
      6. Up and about before 6, with eyes burning and both girls ready to be awake for the day.

The good:

    1. Got to enjoy the day off from school, with Liam, making the weekend a four-day weekend.
    2. Enjoyed a long, hot, cleansing shower.
    3. Took a three-hour nap (Frances slept from 10:15 until nearly 3:00!).
    4.  Nearly all the weekend chores have been completed:
    • Weekly grocery shopping finished.
    • Fresh, clean sheets on all the beds.
    • Bathroom squeaky clean and disinfected.
    • House vacuumed.
    1. Frances back to her silly, rowdy self, except lacking an appetite.
    2. Nobody else has gotten sick. Yet.

Twenty-four Hours Ago: A wicked, wicked night.

Last night was one of those nights I wanted to run away to Mexico. For about five minutes I seriously thought about leaving my house. Not necessarily for Mexico, but maybe the backseat of the car.  Our girls are still sick with respiratory viruses of some sort. Frances is also teething. Liam and I co-sleep by way of bed-sharing with Frances, our youngest, as we did with Nora until she was two. Although Nora now goes to bed in her own bed, she inevitably ends up in our bed at some point in the middle of the night. Oh, and I’m also still nursing Frances (more to come in a future post about the pros and cons of bed-sharing as well as breastfeeding while pregnant). Every now and then a series of events such as these come together to create a perfect storm of nighttime restlessness and misery for all those involved. Thankfully Nora slept through all of this particular mess. If only Liam and I had been so lucky.

A synopsis:

8:45 p.m. Go to bed with Frances.

9:00 p.m. until 1:30 a.m. Sleep soundly without incident.

1:30 a.m. until 2:00 a.m. Wide awake with pregnancy insomnia.

2:00 a.m. Frances wakes up and decides to be miserable for several hours.

2:01 a.m. until 3:50 a.m. Frances alternates between tossing and turning, laying on my face, playing with the window curtain, nursing, and moaning, “Noooo. Noooo!!!” Nothing I can do or offer makes her feel any better.

3:51 a.m. I break down and ask Liam to take her anywhere and do anything with her so I can just get one more hour of sleep before we have to go in to work.

3:52 a.m. until 5:11 a.m. In our bedroom: I get that blessed hour of sleep and enjoy a nutty dream where my mom is pulling hair out of mouth that keeps coming and coming as my family looks on in horror and I try to defend myself, “I swear! I don’t eat hair!” Unless I’m doing it in my sleep?

In the living room: Frances reads books with Liam, enjoys a bowl of Cheerios, climbs on Liam on the couch, cries a lot, and gets a diaper changed.

5:12 a.m. I wake up to the sound of Frances screaming “Noooooo!” and decide to go and get her from the living room.

5:13 a.m. I see Liam almost asleep at one end of the couch, and Frances losing her shit at the other end. I scoop Frances up and tell her as politely as I can that she’s going to sleep, or else.

5:14 a.m. until 5:24 a.m. I nurse Frances and she falls peacefully to sleep. Good little girl.

5:25 a.m. until 5:45 a.m. I roll over to face Nora. She, of course, is in our bed now too. Liam is still on the couch. Nora proceeds, after sleeping soundly all night long, to cough in my face, the really phleghmy, spraying kind, for twenty straight minutes. However, she remains asleep.

5:46 a.m. I turn away, back to face Frances.

5:47 a.m. until 5:59 a.m. Frances is awake again, tossing and turning and moaning “Noooooo…” This is starting to get really fucking old, I think to myself. Maybe I should run away to Mexico.

6:00 a.m. My alarm goes off and I hit snooze.

6:01 a.m. Frances decides to fall asleep again.

6:09 a.m. I turn off the second alarm and ever-so-carefully weasel my way out from under the covers without disturbing the girls who so desperately need more sleep. I march grumpily off to the shower, while Liam sleeps peacefully on the couch. The girls are passed out in our bed. Surely there is something wrong with this picture.

IMG_2608

The scene in our bed this morning. Queens of the Roost.

The only bright spot: The girls were in bed tonight, sleeping by 7:15 p.m. Fingers crossed things go better for us tonight!