Monday, April 23, 2012

The eternal twilight of the sleep deprived

If you've ever brought home a newborn, you've been tired.

Really tired.

A next-level tired that leaves you feeling that your feet aren't quite touching the ground, that colors are either too bright or muted to an oddly large range of gray, that even small-talk is being spoken in a foreign-but-vaguely-familiar language.  Exhaustion like that is akin wearing a full-body biohazard suit made of fog.

I'm visiting that place today.

It's easy to forget what that kind of tired feels like, if you've been getting a reasonable amount of sleep for weeks or months or even years at a time.  It takes the well-rested by surprise.

I am a world champion sleeper.  There aren't many things I'm really Olympic class at doing (my other gold medal events are Icy Glares and Synchronized Scolding), but I've always excelled at Catching Z's.

One night of chaos doesn't much throw me off my waking day.  I can handle two interrupted nights without much problem, and, with the help of our friendly local Starbucks, I can survive three.

But throw me off my sleep schedule for more than four nights, and I am one of the walking dead, minus the gruesome special effects and insatiable desire for brains.  It does kick up my yearning for potato chips a few notches, though.

Today's haze of misery is courtesy of our four-year-old.  It all started innocently -- doesn't it always? -- but quickly crossed into the land of absurdity.  I'd laugh, except that my utter exhaustion has left no energy for mirth.

Our young pumpkin sprang a sudden fever on Thursday morning, which popped as high as 101 through the day and lulled him into senseless napdom late Thursday afternoon.  As I tucked him into bed that night, I reminded him (stupidly, in retrospect), to wake me up if he needed anything.

He woke in the night, shivering with fever, so he came in search of his mama.  I wrapped my sleep-warm body around him and he settled in for a rather restless night.

Ditto Friday night.

Saturday he was himself again, without fever and with all his usual energy and enthusiasm.  But come the wee hours of Saturday night, he came looking for a free ride in the big bed again.

He kicked.  He thrashed.  His outflung arm caught me full in the face, and his sharp little toenails scratched the tender skin behind my knees.  Caught between my tiny tormenter and my snoring husband, there was no escape.

I tried to sleep.  Truly, I did.  Minutes passed, hours passed, misery remained.

So tired.  So sad.  So unreasonably angry.

I nudged, and then shoved, my husband.  His eyes half opened.  "Can you please carry Liam back to bed?"  He glared, grunted, and rolled over.  (My husband doesn't sleep walk, perse, but he does act in completely uncharacteristic ways when he's asleep and then has no recollection the following day.  It is not as fun as it sounds.)

Left to my own devices, I threw off the covers, climbed over my youngstger, and schlepped him back to bed myself.

I returned to bed angry and unable to sleep.  No matter, because less than an hour later, he was back.  *Sigh.*

I was sleepy on Sunday, and a little grouchy.  But I did all the usual things -- church, lunch, grocery shopping, stocking the pantry, picking up the house.  I just did all those things slowly.  Very, very slowly.  And I often found myself in a room with no recollection of what I was supposed to do in it.

Eh, whatever.  Whatever was the word of the day.

So I was ready, really ready for bed Sunday night.  And while I don't remember when the wee beastie came creeping under my sheets, I do remember waking -- multiple times -- to those kicking legs and punching arms and feline-sharp toenails.

And did I mention that he has a textural fixation?  He likes to rub any little imperfection in your skin -- a mole, a bump, a torn cuticle, a scratch -- over and over and over, sometimes sinking in his little claws for good measure.  Most days, this doesn't bother me much.  In the middle of my fourth sleepless night, though, it filled me with red rage.  I wanted to plunk him unceremoniously in the middle of the hallway, lock the bedroom door, and hide under my blankets.

No, I did none of these things.  I carried him back to bed -- but he returned.  Finally, sometime around 3 a.m., I lifted him and put him in the middle of the bed, hoping he might torment my husband instead of me for a few hours.  I'm not sure what happened after that, so perhaps my nefarious (desperate!) plan worked.

So today I'm drinking coffee instead of tea.  My eyes are red, and my industrial-strength concealer is doing nothing to hide the puffy purple bags that are so effectively announcing my age and exhaustion to the world.

Days like this, I feel like an old mom.  But, hope springs eternal -- and tonight, I hope for sleep.

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