Sleep or lack thereof

Hello from the fugue. Or the fog. I don’t know which it is, and I’m too tired to work it out. I’d forgotten what this feels like. I’ve had six months of sleep now – not non-stop of course, but six months where most nights, most children slept through. And before you hate me, I did put up with six years of broken sleep before that, so I did do some time.

The irony is, when you’re going through it, you just get through it. You adapt to an extent, or at least I did. You can actually get up and go to work despite having been up twice in the night, or having been kicked in the face from 3am onwards. But once you get your sleep back, it becomes almost impossible to handle any hiccups. Sleep deprivation is a form of torture, and sleep deprivation for the uninitiated or the recovering sufferer is a special kind of hell.

Today has been one such tortuous day. It started at the ungodly hour of 4.30am, just four hours after I’d gone to bed (I know, foolish). I heard a noise in the kitchen, and ran downstairs. Not for a second did I think it was a plate-clanging burglar – I’d know the sound of child-meets-cereal-bowl anywhere. I found my seven-year-old, fully dressed in her school uniform, about to put some Weetabix in a bowl.

“Hi mum!” she said brightly, as if it wasn’t the middle of the night. “You have to go back to bed!” I wailed, taking the bowl out of her hands. “But why? It’s morning time! Aren’t you happy I got up and dressed without being asked?” Em, no. Happy wasn’t quite the word I’d have used.

We debated for another five minutes until I eventually convinced her to go back to bed. All fine so. But it wasn’t. At ten past five, she was back up again, unable to sleep. I said she could read, so she sat on the landing floor with a pile of books, and I went back to bed. And listened to her leaf through each book, cast it aside, and grab another one – she wasn’t being deliberately loud, but when it’s 5am, and your brain keeps involuntarily counting the minutes until the alarm clock goes off, every sound is magnified.

I won’t bore you with a minute by minute account of the rest of the night, but there wasn’t another smidgen of sleep between us. And so the tortuous day began. Well actually, she was fine – the crash would come later. I was hollow-eyed and bleary, in a way that was so familiar for so long, but which has been gone for some time and somehow seems worse than ever.

I went on auto-pilot to get work done, I drank incredible amounts of tea, and I wallowed a bit. I slurred my words. I forgot some words. I asked my five-year-old to tell me the capital of Dublin – she was very confused. I tried to join a conference call using the calculator on my phone. I lost my glasses and didn’t have the energy to find them. They weren’t going to help with the sandy feeling in my eyes anyway. Instead of a tuna wrap for lunch, I needed soup and bread. And then Toblerone, If it wasn’t for that carefully stashed emergency Toblerone, I’m not sure I’d have made it through the day.

But I did. And I have been painfully reminded not to take sleep for granted (I didn’t! I promise!) And I will definitely go to bed early tonight. Although, now that I’ve made it through the torture, it might be nice to sit down for a few hours. And it probably won’t happen two nights in a row, will it?

office mum: Toblerone

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24 thoughts on “Sleep or lack thereof”

    1. She was very apologetic this morning and has promised to check with me next time to see whether it’s morning or not. Though hopefully even that won’t happen 🙂

    2. It’s so true…getting sleep for a period of time and the it being broken again is awful! They do say broken sleep is worse than no sleep! Although I am very lucky my six month old baby boy sleeps pretty well and only stirs in the night. It’s the sleepless nights in eighteen years time I’m dreading! At least when they are in the house you know where they are! Love your blog…you are a Wonder Woman and inspiration!

      1. I’m just seeing these comments now (I was away for the weekend – getting some actual sleep 🙂 ) – thank you for the lovely compliment! Definitely not Wonder Woman, more Muddle-Woman, but thanks 🙂

  1. Not alone then. At 2:30 I got to bed having tried to get the *%#&ing tax return forms filled.

    Alarm went off at 6:30 and I’m sure there was a toddler kicking in head before that. Then school run, into work to feign some level of competence at meetings… Blurry!

    Tuna wrap was lunch too – what I would have done for emergency toblerone. Got home 12 hours later to dinner and bedtime. Mmmmmm, bedtime. 🙂

    Could you imagine how amazing we would all be on a full nights sleep!!!

  2. Sorry Andrea. Limited sympathy here. 🙂

    I do remember once my son started sleeping through the night that an unexpected broken night felt awful. But the thing is – it’s fleeting.

    Back in the trenches now, where the last time I had more than a five hour stretch was over a year ago, that one day of tiredness every once in a while seems a fair trade for the prospect of sleep every other night. I can’t wait to join you in complaining about how much worse it is. 🙂
    Lisa | recently posted…Puppy’s Smart Train ReviewMy Profile

    1. Oh no, it’s definitely not worse – I wouldn’t swap it for a million euro – two and half years of my youngest not sleeping nearly killed me!
      It’s not worse, I just find my coping abilities have decreased – I’m now useless after one bad night whereas I used to cope with endless bad nights!

  3. You poor thing, I’m currently in the midst of blurry nights – not even remembering how the baby got into the bed from his room next door (isn’t it great that he can levitate, seemingly?) but if the sensation of losing the only twice a night wakings for every hour and ridiculous times being “Morning” is anything to go by (thank you return to work disrupting life), then you have my utmost sympathy because being used to no wake ups would make that even worse.

    All of the caffeinated thoughts. And more Toblerone.
    Lisa recently posted…Swings and RoundaboutsMy Profile

    1. My sympathies to you – seriously, those are tough days when you’re just back at work but your baby isn’t sleeping. Just focus on a future where one random night will put you out of kilter, because you’ll be so used to amazing sleep every night – it will happen eventually 🙂

  4. I hear you! **wail** my six year old regularly wakes, WAKES, and trying to convince her it’s the middle of the night is fruitless. She smiles at me as though I’m insane. My six-month old has, whilst teething, often woken at 5am for an hour or two. Even if I get back to bed, the badly broken sleep kills me. Commiserations!!
    Emily recently posted…Easy Ice-Cream CakeMy Profile

    1. Oh hilarious – that’s exctly it – the smiling back as though we’re insane! The disbelief! And the begging – I was literally begging her to understand that it was the middle of the night. Anyway, I can’t complain – nobody is teething, the youngest is finally sleeping, and there has been no repeat of middle-of-the-night breakfast attempts (so far)

  5. I tell you there is no need for waterboarding as a method of torture, just unpredictable children. It’s cruel. I think we are scarred for life. Would you believe me when I say that just last night I woke after 3 am convinced my daughter was calling me. I clearly heard her, except she is 17 and I knew in my heart it was just my imagination. In the end I got up, peeped in, called myself a feckin eejit and went back to bed.
    tric recently posted…Young Ben we salute you.My Profile

    1. Ah Tric, that’s actually lovely. Especially the bit where you called yourself a feckin eejit, because I can totally imaagine you doing that. Yes, I think once we have kids, we never sleep properly again. Well, the mothers I mean. I can’t speak for every dad but I know one who sleeps now just as well as he ever did!

  6. For years I was up and down like a yoyo, but I was younger then. I still get woken at night, 3.30 this morning!!! But at least I can organise my time at home and no-one minds if I can’t string a sentence together. Hope things improve for you x
    looking for Blue Sky recently posted…The autumn of austerity?My Profile

    1. It was definitely a once off, I am lucky, they finally all do sleep. I do think we all become accustomed to less sleep and better at coping, but those days of not being able to string a sentence together are tough – whether at work or at home!

    1. It is amazing what you can do when you have to. I think there are the really, really impossible days every now and then, and then there are the many, many “regular bad” days which you adjust to. And anyway, you are superwoman 🙂

  7. Oh how I hear you! I had a 5am start the same day I think. I don’t remember this ever happening before in 6 years of being a parent. Eventually they would always go back to sleep even if only for a few minutes before getting up time. I think if I had known I was up for the day then I would’ve fared better than thinking I had a chance of getting back to sleep! Yesterday my productivity was in negative figures. My body seems to have forgotten the nights of only getting 3 hours sleep that were so common in the early days. I’m not complaining, I don’t want to go back there but the one night abberation is so hard to recover from these days.
    laura | dairyfreekids recently posted…dairy free kids is 2 years old!My Profile

    1. You poor thing!
      But yes, exactly the same – I’m not complaining or looking for sympathy, and I definitely wouldn’t swap now for then, but I was surprised at how difficult I found it to copse!

  8. Aw, you poor thing! Being sleep deprived really is a form of torture, but it’s amazing how you actually manage to make it through the day no matter how exhausted you are. I’m the same though, no matter how tired I am, once I’ve made it through the day, I suddenly want to reward myself by staying up and watching Netflix while eating chocolate! 🙂
    Christine @lilacpaperdoll recently posted…Last of the Summer in HowthMy Profile

    1. Where would we be without Netflix and chocolate! Well, except for tonight, when apparently the Champion’s League is more important than any episode of anything…

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