Tuesday, April 19, 2011

On Sleep Deprivation

An old friend recently asked me what to do about getting her toddler to nap. That got me thinking about when Alexander was a toddler and how maybe I'm not the best qualified to give that sort of advice. I could possibly write a book on what not to do to get your child to be a good sleeper.
Alexander was the 'challenging' child, the one who had me walking around in sleep-deprived stupor asking random strangers on subways about the kid standing with them: "Does he sleep through the night?" Uhm, yeah. He is a teenager.
The one who had me shooting murderous looks at my husband when he returned from work and asked me sweetly: "So, how was your day, honey?"
Well, let's see, it was pretty good at 10 am, we had only been up five hrs then. Already watched The Jungle Book, built a lego tower, read books, made our own books, played impromptu game of hide and seek, gone out to see the construction working site...but, now at 7pm, I don't even remember what my name is. I've had the life sucked out of my brain. In retrospect, what mostly did it were those daily depressing hours spent trying to get him to nap while singing painful renditions of Les Miserables as he watched wide-eyed from his stroller, probably thinking: "Show tunes? Come on, you can do better than that."
A good friend calling me as I was pushing him in the stroller while holding his bottle to get him to sleep, when she heard what I was doing she just murmured: "Oh, Jen."
Or telling friends to never drop by at 7pm. Why? Because he cries at that hour.
The first time I ever went out in the morning without the baby was when we still lived in Dublin and he was 2 months old. I was going to get root canal. I remember feeling elated. When the dentist asked me how I was, I wanted to hug him. I was so sleep deprived in those days that when a car almost hit me, the very first thing I remember thinking was how soft the hospital sheets would feel.
Later on, he wanted to drink baby bottles all night long. I put him to sleep by feeding him two bottles, fell asleep with another two behind my pillow and still around 3 am, in a voice similar to that of Attila the Hun, he would yell out: "Latte!" In his defence, I was so quick at getting up and concocting mixtures of milk, water, and chamomile tea he probably thought we lived in a cafe'. And when he threw the empty bottles against the wall after downing the 'latte' my husband and I secretly thought: "Help."
But, dear Laura, it does get better. And the silver lining is that you will never (EVER) take for granted your child sleeping through the night. Or sleeping, period.
I would end this post on a positive note and tell you that (as you can see in the photo) he sleeps now, but I'm too afraid of jinxing it.


  1. Unbelievable and so true, nobody tell you what it's really like when you have a child who won't sleep!

  2. Having a toddler is the toughest job there is...thanks for your words.

  3. did you ever read operating instrutions by anne lamont you should write a book i will read and give it to all my friends

  4. heli used to sleep only for 3 hours at any time of the day...at 2pm in the night i used to walk on the roads nears novena...thank God i was in singapore!!!it was safe to walk around at any time of the night.My only aim was to cook and clean in the 3 hours that she used to sleep...and all this and so much more without a maid...and now when i think of it...i ask myself....did i do all these things and still smiled at my little princess every time she cried? i guess thats what motherhood is all about....atleast in the first few years.

  5. Poor you! Hope your little one is a better sleeper.

  6. What clever observations! And what sense of humor! Alexander is indeed a lucky child to have you as a mother. Ehmasa.

  7. I don't know about that but thank you for saying so!!!