Sleep is for the Weak

In college, I suffered from mind-numbing insomnia. I remember lying awake in bed watching the hours roll by like waves in an ocean that was overwhelming and inescapable. I spoke with a few doctors about it, all of whom agreed it was anxiety. After spending the next three years rotating among Proxac, Celexa, and about every other SSRI on the market to no avail, I weaned and got back to normal sleep on my own. Normal albeit nightmare-rattled, but sleep is sleep.

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The fact that I made it to graduation is thanks to sugar-free Red Bull.

When I was pregnant, the insomnia returned like menacing daggers waiting for me in the night. A combination of stress and worry, plus discomfort and eventually downright pain, left me unable to sleep at all many nights. Others it meant watching those hours tick on by like they did in the good old college days, leading to slumbering mornings during which I accomplished nothing. Here is the even worse news: I am a terrible napper. Lying down to rest in the afternoons fills me with greater panic than working through the exhaustion does. I hate it. Josh has literally put me down for a nap on a few extreme occasions when I was so tired I could do nothing but cry. When I do have a successful nap I wake with a start, terrified that I’ve missed something and soon, very grumpy with newly found fatigue. Imagine how much I loved hearing people tell me to “sleep now while you still can!” during the pregnancy. Every time I heard it I wanted to punch the well-meaning schmuck in the face.

As I write this on my iPhone to email myself for publication this week, it’s Saturday night. Nee, Sunday morning. It’s 2:43 am Sunday to be exact. My Willow girl is sleeping peacefully in her crib where she’s been since 11 pm. My husband is snoring heartily in the bedroom. The cat and dog are following suit. And I am sitting bolt upright on the living room sofa praying for sleep. I took a Unisom hours ago. I tried a Benadryl twenty minutes ago. So far, no dice. That same old swell of panic has started to pitch me around; on one hand I feel like I should just get up and start cleaning since the house is quiet and this is technically me-time. On the other, I am completely losing my shit over the fact that I have an infant to take care of and I need to get to sleep so I can properly do that tomorrow.

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Is it crazy that I prefer cuddling to sleeping?

With all the warnings you hear about babies not sleeping, it seems insane that mine is passed out right now and I can’t figure out a way to do the same. Shouldn’t the sheer exhaustion of breastfeeding, changing, and constantly caring for a six-week-old do it? Scarier still is the fact that I’ve been resting my head on her Boppy and snuggling her Angel Dear frog, missing her and wishing she was in my arms instead. What if I just tiptoe in her room and make 100% sure she doesn’t want to hang? Am I nuts?

Here’s the grand irony, y’all. This morning (or technically yesterday morning!) Willow slept until 9:30 am (after being put down at 12:30). Josh and I were over the moon, of course. We slept in like champions. We awoke with no circles under eyes. We did not bicker. We were soft and sweet and accommodating with each other. He made eggs and gluten-free whole grain waffles, bought fresh coffee downstairs. We sat at our dining room table and chatted. Like, a real adult conversation. I wrote a couple of thank-you notes and even addressed one. And I told him that one of the blessings of having a newborn is that my insomnia is gone. “I’m so tired now, I can just sleep whenever. It’s amazing!”

Oh, my dears, do yourself a favor. Count your blessings in your head, not aloud. It seems my grand declaration of the baby having cured my insomnia was exactly what brought it back. I guess I have two choices now as we round out at 3 am. I could sit here and continue to panic about how tired I’ll feel tomorrow, or I can flip on the TV and watch Lisa Vanderpump verbally abuse her underdressed, over-dramatic, fame-crazed staff on Bravo. I’m going with Option 2, and praying my Willow ends up a tad less crazy than her mama.

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4 thoughts on “Sleep is for the Weak

  1. I can relate to this so much, I love sleeping but can never actually go to sleep. I’ll force myself to stay awake because I’m terrafied I’ll miss something important. My little girl is napping right now, and although I’m dead tired I can’t allow myself to sleep. Raising a newborn is tuff, and doing it on no sleep makes it even harder.

    • Mine is sleeping right now too and of course I am doing laundry, blogging, doing anything but sleeping! Hang in there Mama. We are not alone in this!! xx

  2. Email me your address! I may have something to help you. That sounds kinda creepy, and possibly robotic/spammish. Pinky swear it’s not. I’m a mom of 4 & have had my bout with sleep issues. – Sabrina yleosabrina@gmail

  3. I am a mum to an 8 month old boy. I suffered terribly with post natal insomnia. When my baby was 8 weeks old, I had a break down after only surviving on 1 hour per night for 8 weeks. I would wake up, heart racing, panicing & watching the clock while my baby slept 8 hours overnight. A psychiatrist finally diagnosed me with post natal anxiety & put me on anti depressants. It took 8 weeks for the meds to start working & for me to finally be able to fall asleep & sleep solidly for a few hours a night. Please go & see your doctor.

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