English Family Parenting The foreign life Uncategorized

The sweetest sleep (or its lack thereof)

*Note: this post was written during August’s ChicagoNow’s Blogapalooz-Hour! This was the prompt given to us by the blog boss: “Write about sleep and the impact it has on your life now or at any point in your life”

I like to joke that, unlike most moms, instead of acquiring an inner alert system when I had my first child, I developed an unnatural resistance to wake up, which gives me the ability to sleep through thunderstorms, sirens, probably a bomb, and certainly a crying baby. My husband will be happy to attest to this any time you ask.

And even though it is a joke (kind of), there is some truth in it. Weirdly enough I was always a night owl, but a night owl who liked to wake up early. When I was growing up in Spain, my father always used to say that going out until late is fine as long as you are able to rise early the next morning. In a country where more often that not you go back home on weekends after dawn, that meant that I had very good training.

I also liked to read, a lot, and I did like to finish books in one day. Even if they were Anna Karenina. Of course, this was lives ago, and I was able to pull it off by staying up lying in bed reading all night long. You see? I was sixteen, and I was pulling off reading all-nighters during the week, and partying all-nighters during the weekend.

Fast forward a few years, and I continued to do the same, this time  throughout five years of Graduate School. It was not so much that I was a procrastinator as an inability on my part to write papers bit by bit. I had to write the whole thing at once, or it didn’t sound right. So I would do all my research, have everything ready, prepare a big pot of coffee, and spend the night before a paper was due writing. The whole night.

All that time, a fly passing would wake me up. The sun would wake me up on weekends, and up I was at 7 am, to my poor husband’s horror. He liked to sleep in, you see? But he didn’t marry well for that. It took me years of motherhood to realize that I had such a light sleep because I had no clue back then of what it felt to be really tired.

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I have never slept so little, or so well as I did with number one
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For him it was either crying, or snoring, no middle ground

A few more years went by, and baby number one arrived. He cried all day and all night for four straight months. And I held, sang, breastfed, hugged and kissed during those whole long four months. It was then when I learned what it meant to be really tired. It was exhausting, to say the least. The most exhausting thing I had ever done. And also the sweetest one. I have plenty of pictures of the two of us sleeping together, after hours of crying, and looking at those pictures, the pure image of peace, kept me sane at the beginning of my motherhood journey, and reminded me of what an angel my little gremlin could be.

By baby number two, the number of sleeping pictures diminished quantitively, as I suspect did the amount of sleep I got. The only sleeping picture was taken at the hospital. Instead I have plenty of photos of the three of us in bed, me breastfeeding a newborn while playing Chutes and Ladders with my then four year old. Not so restful, but still sweet.

Day one of number 2. After we went home, sleep was over. For good.
Day one of number 2. After we went home, sleep was over. For good.

By baby number three, I barely sleep at all, so there are no pictures of the two of us in the same bed. He never liked to be rocked to sleep, and his brothers were happy to take his place in our bed. He is my weird crib baby, the one who liked to sleep himself so much that he couldn’t care about any adults taking part on it, and didn’t fall asleep in my arms until he was and almost college bound ten month old.

Right now I normally do with five hours of sleep. I can function with three, and a lot of coffee. Seven is considered a luxury, and doesn’t happen anymore.

16 year old me, the one who couldn’t be bothered to sleep because she had so many things to do, and so little time to use in something so boring, would laugh at me. 35 year old me would happily smirk at her. And then she would snooze.

 
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