Miles to go before I sleep

Rest, or sleep, is a make-or-break deal in my world. In my 20’s it seemed ridiculous to waste good party hours sleeping. I used to think nothing of going to bed the next day in the wee hours, waking up a few hours later, showering, and heading to school. Sleep was what you did on the weekend, or out of boredom.

When perfected, may resemble the above.  (Note: not my kid!)

When perfected, may resemble the above.
(Note: not my kid!)

When I had kids I was gifted with a child who could sleep no more than 2 hours at a time. I consulted sleep specialists, saw public health nurses, kept sleep logs, read books that made me feel like I was a bad mother, and generally really struggled. I never appreciated sleep so much as when it was taken away from me and the lack of rest manifested itself physically. Days upon weeks of sleep deprivation really can mess with the mind and body. It’s no wonder this is used in torture. Feeling so physically ill can make you want to lose your mind; you’ll trade anything for a few hours to close your eyes.

Sleep deprivation leaves you confused, stressed, forgetting the names of everyday objects, and encourages hallucinations. It’s not a fun place to be — the party is already over when you are sleep deprived. Although I am generally an early-riser, I think my cells have been imbued with a fear of sleeplessness. Even a half hour less sleep a night leaves me with nausea.

I used to think that the ultimate way to recharge would be to get sick and go to the hospital.  It would have to be a sickness that kept you somewhat immobilized but had very little pain, so mostly what you could do would be sleep, eat, rest, and watch shows. None of this is even remotely close to any sense of truth. A few years ago I had an ovarian cyst rupture as I was on my way out for a run. I made it as far as the bathroom and after realizing I was sweating and in considerable agony thought perhaps I would skip my run and go home instead.

After a few hours of convincing (me) my husband packed me up and took me to the ER. He specifically said I shouldn’t downplay how much pain I was in. When they let me in before the guy puking into the garbage I thought maybe something might be wrong with me. Turns out I’ve had this happen a zillion times before, but it had never been diagnosed. Although I didn’t need surgery it was the largest cyst the specialist had ever seen that ruptured and healed on its own. I had to spend almost a week in the hospital, though, as my iron levels tanked so badly I would pass out trying to prop myself up on a pillow. It was not rejuvenating or relaxing or anything prefixed with “re.”

These days I go to bed early. My daughter does sleep. She is more of a night-owl and grumbles whenever someone wakes her up “too early.”  I am no longer getting up in the dark to go and run before sunrise. So far (fingers crossed) I have also stayed away from hospital visits as it is not a place I’d willing visit, nor is it a place you get much rest.  I go to bed early because there is such a thing as beauty sleep.

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11 thoughts on “Miles to go before I sleep

  1. Oh, I remember those days when I thought sleep would never return to my life – but then I never was a night owl. The good news is kids eventually figure it out and by the time they’re teenagers they’ll sleep for long, 10+ hour stretches. That’s just about the time when parents find they themselves can’t sleep more than 4 hours at a time, so running before sunrise may be something you can enjoy again someday!

    • Ha ha. I guess that’s the balance isn’t it: once the kids start needing more sleep my body will need less and the roles will be reversed. Maybe there is such a thing as sleep karma! I like the early morning run; I just need an afternoon nap to compliment it.
      Thanks for your comments.

  2. Tania, I too now value wonderful, precious sleep. I’ve never slept so well as when I had kids. The cysts sound so painful. You poor thing. Funny thing about hospitals is that they are a terrible place to rest. There’s so much noise and they’re always in/out running tests, etc. Right? I’ve thought that before, too. Just a couple days to do what I need for myself and have the perfect excuse! Glad you’re getting your beauty sleep, beautiful!

    • Hi Amy,
      The cyst was pretty painful but it was a test of patience to wait and wait out my time in the hospital. So noisy, busy, and so much bloodwork to get done ! I am a person who does well with more sleep than less. I function pretty well when I am tired (I can get going in the morning) but it catches up to me quickly. I’m getting to be a good napper. Why can’t kids just figure the sleep thing out from the get- go?

  3. Ouch. Ruptured ovarian cysts can be very painful. And I hear you on the poor-sleeping child. My first child was a restless sleeper, and he never napped for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. All these mothers around me were talking about things they got done during their child’s two to three hours naps, and I was thinking, “Huh?” Luckily, my second one was a much better napper. But now? The oldest one who was a short sleeper is like Dracula in his coffin. It’s almost impossible to wake him up and drag him out of bed in the morning!

    • Hi Carrie,
      I’m probably past a reasonable due date with a reply to your comment. 😉 I often wonder how sleep patterns translate from infancy on to teens. My daughter (short-napper) is also very much a night owl. She’ll gladly stay at an event or outing much longer than I would comfortably. Then again, she’ll also sleep in hours past what I would. I guess I can prep for my own Dracula time in the years to come. Thanks for this insight!

  4. Youch, that sounds painful! Everyone always talks about the sleep deprivation of having children… I find it utterly terrifying. I only have a dog at this point and sometimes her snores are enough to annoy me in the night… But, tonight I bought the cutest little reindeer footie pajamas for my 18month old niece, so… I guess I can see the compromise there… too adorable 😉 I hope you’re healing up well!

    • Hi Aussas,

      Thanks for your thoughts. Yes — a ruptured cyst is not just an unpleasant feeling that you can just consider “uncomfortable.” It’s true that it’s easy to be swept up in the cuteness of what is now available for kids — especially the wee ones. I think that babies ARE so cute so that you keep them. When they are defying all of your logic and not sleeping and trying all of your patience, that’s when reindeer footie pajamas come in as a handy reminder.
      Take good care.

  5. Yeah, I know exactly what the ruptured cysts feel like, and you’re right, time in a hospital is never relaxing. You pretty much wind up napping in between blood work, the blood pressure cuff, doctors visiting, tests performed, and visitors. I’m like you, I feel nauseous if I don’t get enough sleep. I can handle one sleepless night, but two in a row does me in.

    • You know what it’s like to be in hospital… I’m preaching to the Preacher in this case. It is all of the things you said and then some. Like — hot: I never knew how warm and recirculated the air is in the hospital, all the time. And — dirty feeling: I’m sure they keep those places as spic-and-span as they possibly can, but with everyone *sick* how else do antibiotic resistant strains start? I need my sleep.

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