Sleep is overrated … not!
Parents around the world are sleep deprived. Every parent expects little sleep when parenting a newborn, but the real shocker is how much sleep deprivation can continue throughout parenthood.
I have a confession to make: I sleep with my son. It’s a long story that led up to him sleeping in my bed, but I feel safer knowing he is there beside me. If he has a seizure, I am there to comfort and take care of him. If he gets sick or something is wrong, I am there. Brain injury can do strange things to a person’s sleep patterns, and he can wake up in the middle of the night ready to party. Austin’s party is kicking his legs and babbling very loudly — very cute but hard to handle at 3 a.m. I have discovered if I change his position and turn him on his side he often will go back to sleep. This makes his sleeping more effective and I feel better being near him rather than hearing him talk half the night in his own bed down the hall. I have such peace knowing he is right beside me.
I didn’t think I would have been the bed-sharing type of parent, but you never know what life will bring you. We have to be flexible and understand that each family and circumstance has different dynamics and issues.
Abby, my eldest, potty trained at 2 years old, which started her waking at night to go to the bathroom. She had always slept in her own bed (except as a newborn; she slept in a bassinet by my bed) but with her night wakings she wanted to be close. My husband and I were OK with her midnight arrival in our bed. However, once I became pregnant with our second child, I worried what I would do with a newborn and Abby in the night. So, we created a compromise and Abby was allowed to come into our room in the middle of the night and sleep on a pallet of pillows on the floor. As she became older, I told her that she didn’t even need to wake me; she could just come in and lie down. In time, I think she got tired of sleeping on the floor and she started sleeping all night again in her bed. I feel it gave her comfort to know that she was welcome, though, if she needed us.
Our second daughter, Amber, was a better sleeper as a young child and currently wants her own space like all preteens and teenagers. Teenagers can really impact your sleep. They want to stay up late! The struggle now is trying not to let them stay up too late. Nights that school is not in session, our girls tend to be night owls. I typically tend to be a late night bird myself. I have had this problem most of my life and my own mother agrees.
So last night, I stayed up too late on my computer. I climb into bed at about 1 a.m. and a funny smell engulfs me. Oh no. Austin pooped. Poor guy had fallen asleep with a poopy diaper. Parenting fail. So I try to change him without waking him, but of course it doesn’t work. So now he is up and wants to party! Again very cute, but I am oh so tired and have so much to get done in the morning. I kiss on him for a few minutes and tell him how we need to sleep. He is not buying it, so finally I turn him over on his side. At some point, somehow, we both fell asleep until 6:50 a.m., when my daughter Amber comes in to have a before school morning snuggle. I love snuggling with my kids. One of the best moments in life.
I think all parents have plenty of sleep-deprived times, and parents of special-needs children often have even more challenges in getting enough sleep. I am fairly blessed that Austin sleeps pretty well these days. It has been a long journey and struggle to get here though. I have friends whose children with brain injury need constant care at night or medicine very early in the morning, and my heart goes out to them. What are your challenges with sleep?
Well, in my sleep-deprived state, I will keep this short because you might be reading this close to bedtime and we all need a goodnight’s sleep. I am going to try for that. If only I would learn to go to bed earlier, maybe tonight. Sweet dreams.
Posted in Catching Curve Balls on Wednesday, January 16, 2013 11:16 am.