Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Mother Who Hasn't Slept in Months

Yesterday was a bad day. CLP have decided to yet again dig up the footpath outside our house and for the 2nd time this week their jackhammers woke my son. Sunday night had been a rough night sleep-wise and so I was trying to do as the books say and "sleep while the baby sleeps." Well, 20 minutes into our nap and we were woken by drilling so loud the walls were vibrating. Baby J decided naptime was over and I dragged myself out of bed and vowed to try again in the afternoon. The same thing happened! There was a knock on the bedroom door and my husband whispered "are you about to lose it?" By that stage I was sobbing in the wardrobe and called back "I've already lost it!" I think sleep deprivation could be used as a form of torture. It makes people crazy and emotional and disturbingly irrational, well, that's what it's done to me anyway.

Our son started sleeping through the night at 3 months and we thought we had been blessed with a gifted child. A month later we made the mistake of taking him back to Australia where the slight time zone change and different beds had him waking every hour of the night for 4 weeks. It took 2 weeks to get him back to sleeping through when we returned and another month after that we were called home to Melbourne again. We hired a cot this time and stayed in the same place. Still he woke every hour. We got back to Hong Kong and I hoped that sleep wouldn't be far behind. Then a very bad thing happened to some very good people. Our friends put their son to bed one night and he didn't wake up. For a week or two no one in our neighbourhood slept. Torn between grief and anxiety, those of us with children resorted to sleeping on the floor in our babies' rooms or taking them into our beds. Now when my son makes a noise in the night I leap out of bed and check on him. When he doesn't make a noise for a couple of hours I check on him again. It's physically and mentally exhausting! It's not just my worrying keeping me awake, J still doesn't "sleep through". He's now so mobile he spends the night moving from one end of the cot to the other and we often have to go in and help him when he gets stuck with his legs through the bars or his head up against the end of the cot. I'm not sure if anyone told me about this before he was born but talking to people now it seems no one with kids gets a decent night's sleep.

I had this naive notion that the first couple of months would be sleepless but then we'd start solids and it would all fall into place by some miracle. Now I know better. Yesterday when the workmen outside unknowingly woke us up I was so enraged that I wanted to go down there and start throwing things at them. I knew they were just doing their jobs but I was so desperate for sleep that I would've done anything to stop the noise. Not wanting to read about his wife on the front page of the SCMP ("Crazy Gweilo Woman Halts Vital Electrical Works") my husband gave me a set of ear plugs and promised to keep watch last night, I still woke up every few hours but knowing someone was getting up to J I felt much better. Whatever it is that keeps us up at night, colic, teething, anxiety, bed wetting, there's something reassuring about knowing that we're not alone. And I know there's not a mother out there who would condemn me for teaching the CLP workers the meaning of the term "going postal."

1 comment:

  1. Poor thing! Sleep deprivation IS a form of torture. A very effective one at that. Not that I have a child but from the folks I know that have good sleepers its all about the schedule. Never let anyone or anything force you to stray from your scheduled nap and bed times with him. Praying for you from the USA. xoxo Susan