Friday, September 9, 2016

Who Needs Sleep?

A few months ago, my wife and I had a baby.

He's our fourth baby, so we kind of knew what we were in for when he got here. We knew that with a baby, you can never count on getting a good night's sleep. With a baby, sleeping through the night is often nothing more than a dream.

But, sometimes dreams come true.

The baby has been wonderful! He's not even four months old, but he's already been sleeping through the night for over two months! He regularly sleeps (knock on wood) from around 9:00 PM until about 7:00 AM every night. It's been surprising and fantastic.

A sleeping baby is a wonderful thing!

So, you would think that means I get to sleep through the night, too. Well, you would be wrong. My other kids have made sure of that.

The other night Thing 3 (our 21 month-old girl) decided to replay a scenario that occurred many, many times during her first 15 months of existence. She woke up screaming at 1:40 AM. After a few minutes (which I gave her in the futile hope she would calm down and go back to sleep on her own) I went in to check on her. She hadn't pooped. She hadn't barfed. She didn't want to eat. She didn't want to drink. She probably would have loved to watch a show on the television, but I wasn't going to go there.

Instead, I just sat there with her until she calmed down. After a few minutes I tried to put her back to bed, but she made sure she let me know that wasn't her plan. Finally, after a little over an hour, she allowed me to place her back in her crib, and I crawled back into my own bed at 2:50 AM, wide awake.

To be fair, after an entire infancy of late nights and middle-of-the-nights, Thing 3 has mostly done a pretty good job of sleeping through the night for the past six months or so.

With the baby sleeping through the night, and the toddler making it through most nights, I should be getting some good rest, right? Well, no. A couple of nights ago Thing 1, our eight year-old daughter, decided to remind us that as parents you are never safe from getting  woke waked woked wakeded awakened awoken wakey-waked  unenslumbered by one of your children.

It was somewhere around 1:00 AM when the eight year-old decided to make multiple visits to our bedroom. The first visit was to inform us that she had to go potty. Fine. Go potty. No one cares. Just go potty and go back to sleep.

The second visit was to inform us about the bad dreams. Great. Bad dreams. Nothing to be afraid of. Just go back to bed and think good thoughts. Go to sleep.

The third visit was similar to the second visit, with a few additions. "I tried thinking good thoughts, but it didn't work. I'm still having bad dreams." And then, there was the kicker: "Can I sleep in the bed with you?"

I was thinking about what words of encouragement I could add to my answer of "No," since my previous "think good thoughts" had already been shot down. But, before I could answer, I was shocked (yes, SHOCKED!!!) by my wife's reply: "Yeah, whatever."

My wife's response shocked me for two reasons. 1) It was unprecedented. Never before had we allowed our oldest daughter to sleep in the bed with us because of bad dreams, or any other reason. And, B) The Wife isn't usually a softy. She's a junior high math teacher with a reputation of not giving in to her students. So, I was quite surprised that she relented and let the girl get in bed with us.

(Later, The Wife told me she surprised herself, as well. She blamed it on the lack of sleep, and the daughter's persistent and frequent badgering.)

As soon as Thing 1 crawled in bed with us, any hope I had of getting a good night's sleep went out the figurative window. She took the spot in-between us, which meant that I was pushed over to the edge of my side of the bed. It also meant that I was unable to roll over, for fear of crushing the girl.

Have you ever tried to sleep the entire night without rolling over once? It's not the best way to get a get a relaxing night of slumber.

Eventually came the "beep, beep, beep" of The Wife's alarm clock. It is not the sound of happiness. Muttering to myself, I climbed out of bed and went to the bathroom. When I exited that room, Thing 1 was standing there, bright-eyed and energetic, and she joyously declared, "This was the best night ever!"

I gave her the best angry glare I could muster, and she quickly tried to put the dampers on her excited exclamation by adding, "I mean, it was the best night ever, after I went to sleep on the bed with you guys. Before that, with the nightmares, it wasn't so good, but after that, that's when it was the best night ever." She quickly bounded out of the room, buoyant with energy and with a big smile on her face.

Meanwhile, I stumbled around the room, hoping to find the light switch without stubbing my toe.

Is it bad that I was resentful of my daughter's happiness? Yes, of course. I should wish for happiness for my children. But, at that moment I was having a hard time doing so.

So, the bottom line is, if you have children, any children at all, consider yourself lucky whenever you can sleep through the entire night. Enjoy it. Cherish it. Because it might not ever happen again.

[NOTE: I finished writing this last night. This morning, the baby woke us up at 4:40 AM. And so it continues.]

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