Note to baby: Be a man and get some sleep

This is what cave women looked like while listening for their babies.

I want to know who coined the phrase “sleeping like a baby.” I’d like to invite that person to spend the night at my house one night. Then they’d see how a baby really sleeps – in two to three-hour increments, waking up screaming, and waking up each time you try to put them back in their crib.

Mind you, I understand the root of that saying. Once a baby is sound asleep, you could take a jack hammer to the room and they wouldn’t move a muscle. I say this from experience because when Kaiden was little we were remodeling and he literally did sleep through jack hammering.

But I’d like to propose a new phrase. Forget sleeping like a baby. You know who I want to sleep like? A man.

Siig can sleep through anything. He barely stirs when Nakita wakes up howling at 3 am, only to cry again at 4 and 5 a.m. It’s all like a distant dream. He’ll stir slightly, if at all, and be snoring again within seconds. And he rarely hears Kaya over the monitor when she wakes up crying “MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY I WANT YOU” after having a bad dream or wetting her bed.

After a night of easily getting up 7 times, I’ll ask Siig the next morning – did you hear how many times Nakita woke up? Did you hear Kaya? And he’ll usually say: “What? Oh, I missed all that.” And I sit there looking at him in disbelief, wondering how it’s possible to tune all that out.

To his credit, I know one reason he doesn’t hear the baby – he knows he can’t do anything. Nakita only wants me, or more specifically my boob, when she wakes up in the middle of the night. And he has told me to wake him up when Kaya has one of her night terrors. But usually I’m awake so I feel bad getting him up.

Men are just programmed differently than women. I saw this documentary once on the Discovery Channel that pretty much explained the differences between men and women’s brains. Women’s brains are designed for multi-tasking – back in primitive times, they had to be able to gather food and wash their bear skins and clean up their kids’ cave drawings all while listening for their baby’s cries. Men, on the other hand, had to be able to tune everything out and focus while hunting, they had to be able to sit crouched behind a rock picking their teeth and scratching their balls while they waited for that Mammoth to come sauntering by.

See, not much has changed.

I see this primitive brain in action all the time. If Siig is watching TV or writing an email, the kids could be at his elbow yelling “DADDY DADDY DADDY I’M ON FIRE!” and he wouldn’t hear them. It’s really quite incredible. I am in awe.

I know I’m not the only one who has observed this. My friend Caryn told me about her experience in the hospital during the birth of her son. While she was in labor in them middle of the night, she said she was moaning and screaming while her husband Jason snoozed away in the chair next to her.

Ahhhh, to sleep like a man. That is my goal in life.

What’s really so funny about Siig’s sleeping is that he can sleep through the baby’s cries, but usually the second I crawl into bed he’ll wake up with a start, sit straight up with his eye’s half-open, and say in a drunken-sounding, accusatory voice: “WHAT??? WHAT’S WRONG? WHAT’S GOING ON?”

Sometimes I can’t help but laugh at this, and I used to try and ignore him but he wouldn’t let up, so now I give him some ridiculous answer just to shut him up and get him back to sleep so I can read my book in peace. I say things like: “Oh, nothing, just back from running around naked outside in the snow” or “Go back to sleep dear, it’s just a rattlesnake in our bed” or “Don’t worry honey, it’s just the kids playing with my hair dryer in the bath tub.”

He never has a recollection of these incidents the next day. I guess you could attribute this to the primitive man-brain as well, to the need to be on alert to protect the tribe. But that theory just goes to shit because then men would wake up when the baby was crying.

Whatever the case, I hope that Nakita can quit this sleeping-like-a-baby load of crap, man up already, and sleep like her daddy. Then maybe, just maybe, I might get some….wait, gotta run. Baby’s waking up.

Postscript: While Siig was reading this post, Kaya was screaming for him downstairs and he didn’t hear a dam thing. Lucky dog.

 

Merry Christmas. Now Shut up and Stop Snoring.

Here is my idea of hell: to be stuck in a small hotel room with my two snoring kids in one bed, and me – Mrs. Insomnia – in the other.

Let’s make it worse, shall we? As we all know, I am two months pregnant and have thus sworn off my beloved Ambien, finally throwing it in the back of my husband’s very, very messy closet, where I knew I would not be able to search for it in the middle of the night without turning on lights to climb over suitcases and piles of clothes and most likely stub my toes on various objects. So here I am in a hotel room at 2 am, having failed to fall asleep since I went to bed at 10 pm, listening to Kaiden snore like he is an erupting volcano. I fantasize about Ambien like any normal woman would about a naked Brad Pitt – what I wouldn’t do to have it in bed with me.

Finally, around 4 am I fall asleep, only to be woken up by Siig yelling at Kaiden to stop snoring. He is hovering over Kaiden, who doesn’t move an inch, yelling “Come on, man!”, as if this 5-year old boy were a grown man who snubbed a prime parking place or was driving 40 mph on the freeway. I curse Siig under my breath.

The worst part? Kaiden did, in fact, stop snoring. But Siig, who soon fell back to a blissful sleep, then picked up the slack and started breathing like there were two stoppers up his nose. Can I not catch a break? What did I do to deserve such bad sleeping karma?

So here I am, now listening to the second member of my family snore like there is tomorrow while I try desperately to count sheep and the number of ways I could get Siig to stop snoring: Pillow case over the face? No, too mean. Kick to the shins? Tried that. Subliminal whispers? Maybe. I settle for a subtle elbow jab to his side and an extra pillow over my ears.

Finally, somehow, I drift off to sleep, but am woken up at 8 am by the kids jabbering away in their beds. Four hours sleep. Definitely not enough.

 But at least I know what to get Kaiden and Siig for Christmas:

(Model included. Bonus for me.)

How my quest for sleep turned me into George Costanza

I started my day by getting yelled at by my Friendly Neighborhood Pharmacist.

In my desperate attempt to find someone who would tell me Ambien was OK to take while pregnant, I was calling everyone I could think of. After three nights in a row of four hours of sleep, I realized I was going to go coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs if I didn’t find something, anything to help me sleep for the next seven months.

I put a call into Gary the Pharmacist.

“So Gary, what do you think of taking Ambien while pregnant?”

“WHAT? NO, NO, NO! You can’t take anything, nothing – NOTHING, do you hear me? You can’t take anything while you’re pregnant, only Tylenol. That’s it. That’s it, it, it!”

Oh my gosh, I thought, I am in a Seinfeld episode. Instead of the Soup Nazi, it’s the Pharmacist Nazi – “No Ambien for you!”

What do pharmacists know anyways, right? On to the next. I called my midwife, Diane. She also said negative to the Ambien, but at least she didn’t yell at me. She suggested alternatives – magnesium powder, Melatonin and eating some protein right before bed.

Strike two.

Next on the list was my OB/GYN. I wouldn’t be seeing them for this baby, but I still wanted the doctors’ medical opinion. I dialed the number and told the receptionist my question.

“Have you made an appointment yet?” was the first thing she asked me.

“No,” I told her, thinking to myself, “Hells no. I’d rather deliver my baby naturally at home like last time than let you guys cut me open again.”

“Do you plan on making an appointment soon?” she asked sternly, reminding me of a school teacher asking a delinquent student for his homework.

Uh-oh. Was their answer contingent on me making an appointment? I decided to be ambiguous.

“Umm, not now.”

She put me on hold. A few minutes later, she picked up the phone. “Ambien is Category B. It’s fine to take.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, the doctors said it was fine.”

I said thank you and hung up the phone. But now I was faced with a conundrum: do I take the doctors’ advice for face value, or were they just fucking with me because I wouldn’t make an appointment? This is how I imagined the conversation went between the doctor and the receptionist while I was on hold:

“So doc, some lady who went and got herself knocked up and now can’t sleep wants to know if she can take Ambien. But she won’t make an appointment.”

“Oh, then tell her it’s fine. What do we care if she has a baby with five heads if she’s not coming in here?”

And then the two laugh a Dr. Evil laugh while rubbing their hands together and plotting destruction of the Earth.

Back to square one. I tried the magnesium powder and the melatonin and pigging out on cheese before bed. No go. I was still up at 2 a.m. twiddling my thumbs and fantasizing about Ambien. I am totally fucked. I am going to be a zombie for the next year and won’t be able to drive my kids to school or hold a conversation or make a meal because I will probably light the house on fire.

And then, last night, I remembered we had some Yogi Bedtime Tea. I drank some an hour before bed, said a prayer, begged the Sleep Fairy to take mercy on my soul and went to sleep. I woke up at 4 am. Glorious! Even better, I went back to sleep and slept until 6 am! Hallelujah, there is a God!

I feel like a human today. I am thinking of calling Gary and yelling at him while I channel George Costanza: “I’m back, baby! I’m back!”

 

Lost: Luggage & Memory, last seen in Aspen

suitcaseOur stuff did not want to come home with us.

We were halfway to the Aspen airport (which is only 15 minutes out of town, so don’t feel too sorry for us) when Siig realized he had left his and Kaiden’s swim shorts drying by the pool. Siig only remembered this because I asked him if he had his wallet. For those of you unfamiliar with Siig, let’s just say he does not have the best memory (and no, he did not inhale on this trip), so I often try to remember things for him, but my over-taxed memory can only handle so much. We had the taxi turn around and go back to the hotel. After retrieving the forgotten goods, no sooner had Siig climbed back into the taxi and we pulled away from the curb then he shouted: “Stop. Go back.”

Without a word, he climbed back out of the taxi, walked back into the hotel, and came out with the kids’ floaties. “Yeah, that’s right, I forgot that I had forgotten these,” and gave me a look as if to say, “Please spare me the usual sarcastic remark.”

So I bit my tongue. What I was planning on saying was something like, “Did you leave your brain by the pool, too?” but I think he’s heard that one before. Instead, I just grinned and said, “That’s OK, honey. You’re on vacation.”

So a half-hour and $20 extra dollars later we were at the Aspen airport, unloaded all our stuff and got in line to check-in at the counter when I realized we were missing something.

“Siig, where’s the hat box?” I asked, referring to the brand-new, $300 Stetson cowboy hat I had just bought him for a belated birthday present.

“Ummm, that would be still in the taxi,” he said.

Fortunately, we had the taxi driver’s business card so I put in a call and 5 minutes later the driver was back at the airport with the hat box AND Kaiden’s backpack full of priceless toys that we had both totally forgotten about as well. The taxi driver looked at us like, “Man, you people are crazy,” and I thought he was going to ask for his card back, but he didn’t.

Siig looked at me with this look of fear on his face because he always gets concerned when I start forgetting things because he knows that if I lose my memory too our whole family is doomed. The kids won’t go to school, their lunches won’t get packed, no birthday parties will be thrown, no bills paid on time, because my memory functions as the entire memory for the family so if that goes, so goes our future. He tries not to think about the months following the births of each of our children because I had major baby brain and could barely find the car keys let alone remember to pay our mortgage.

“Take a deep breath,” I tell him. “It will all be OK.”

But still, our luggage did not want to come home. It wanted to stay on vacation. Can you blame it, really?

Our flight out of Aspen was delayed so when we landed in Denver we only had about 20 minutes to catch our next flight. Since we landed in Terminal A, and our next flight was out of Terminal B, we had a major sprint ahead of us. I have never seen Siig run so fast or maneuver the stroller so deftly through crowds of people, some of whom got out of his way like the Red Sea must have parted for Moses. Panting and sweating, the kids yelling for MORE, we arrived just in the nick of time at our gate.

Our bags, on the other hand, did not.

This really wouldn’t matter so much if I hadn’t packed my bottle of Ambien, or should I call it Desperately Needed Sleep Assurance, in my suitcase. The airlines officials promised us our luggage would be delivered to our house by 1 a.m. Just in time for my middle-of-the-night wake up, I thought to myself, I should be fine.

I didn’t wake up at 1 a.m. I woke up at 3 a.m. By 4 a.m., I couldn’t take it any longer and ran upstairs to the front door and looked outside. No luggage. Fuck. I’m totally fucked. I try my old stand-by, Melatonin, but that’s a lot like expecting to get buzzed from a can of Bud Light after your used to drinking straight Vodka. In other words, no go.

Still awake when Siig got up at 5:30 a.m. I asked him to please, please bring the suitcase down if it was there. Ten minutes later, I couldn’t believe it, I heard him coming down the stairs with the bag thudding behind him. Rejoice! There is a God! I threw open my bag, practically hug my bottle of Ambien, pop a quarter of a pill, and was in a blissful asleep before 6 am.

It’s obvious our brains and our luggage wanted to stay in Aspen. I only wish my sleeping habits felt the same.

Thunder + Lightening = No Sleep

lighteningThis was my night last night:

9:50 p.m.: Everyone asleep. I should go to sleep too. Let me just glance at my blog really quick…….

10:30 p.m.: Finish writing blog post, couldn’t resist. Tell myself to hurry up and go to bed. Siig has 5 a.m. wake-up call.

11:00 p.m.: Finally in bed. Good girl. Go to sleep. You have six hours until Siig’s alarm goes off.

11:30 p.m.: Sound asleep. But wait – just heard the heater go on. We don’t need that on in June. Get out of bed and go upstairs and turn the heat down. Five and a half hours left.

2:30 a.m.: Boom! Crash! Flash! Holy cow! I wake up. It’s hailing and thundering so loud. I am actually a little freaked out. We rarely get thunderstorms in Tahoe. Crap. Two and a half hours until the alarm.

2:40 a.m.: Ouch, my neck! Just can’t get comfortable on this pillow. I need a massage.

2:45 a.m.: Back to sleep for a moment, and then the bright flash of lightening wakes me up again, like someone’s shining a searchlight  in my room. I know the kids are going to wake up any minute scared. I lay anxiously in bed waiting for a “Mommy!” It doesn’t come.

3:00 a.m.: I’m listening really hard for Kaiden or Kaya. Nothing. The thunder builds – Clap!

3:15 a.m.: Asleep. Then “Daddddddy!” A-ha! I knew it. I lie there. Nothing more. Kaya is back asleep. But not me. I open the drawer of my nightstand and pull out my eye mask I got from an airlines once. Maybe this will block the lightening flashes. Less than two hours to the alarm and sunrise.

3:20 a.m.: How is it that Siig can go back to sleep so fast? I swear, a bear could jump on him and he would be snoring in minutes. Not fair.

3:25: a.m.: Uh-oh! Did Kaiden leave his shoes outside by the trampoline? There’s no way in hell I’m going to look right now. Whatever. He doesn’t really need shoes for school tomorrow anyways.

3:30 a.m.: Should I take an Ambien? What if the kids wake up and I have to comfort them all drugged up? But I don’t want to lay here until morning either. Major internal debate ensues. Dam it, my neck hurts.

3:45 a.m: Fuck it. Sleep trumps all. I”m taking a quarter of one.

4:30 a.m. Still awake. Dam it. I’ll take an additional sliver. Nobody wants a grumpy, tired Mommy, least of all me.

5 a.m.: Vaguely aware of Siig getting up. Place pillow over my head to block the sun. When are those shades coming? Not soon enough.

7:50 a.m.: “Mooommmmmmmmmmy!” Should I ignore her? Maybe she’ll play in her room. I just need a half an hour more. I close my eyes again.

8:00 a.m.: “MOOOOOOOMMMMMIIIEEEEE!” All right, gosh darn it. You win. I’m coming. I get out of bed. I think I feel rested, not too groggy.

Final verdict: a successful night of sleep.

clock

Searching for Nothing

beerI have no idea what to do with myself right now. Siig came home early and took the kids to a friend’s house so he could drink beer with his buddy Mike. (Don’t worry, Mike has two kids so Kaiden and Kaya are entertained.) Articles written. Laundry done. Bills paid.  Shower taken. Stuff organized. Hmmm, so I guess that means I have absolutely, positively, NOTHING to do. Nothing? I don’t even know what that is anymore. How do you do nothing?

Let’s see, I could watch TV, have the remote all to myself. That sounds luxurious. I could watch my favorite, guilty pleasures – America’s Next Top Model or Keeping up with the Kardashians. But wait. We just switched out satellite TV  for cable to save money so I don’t think I get those channels anymore. Bummer. Now I’m going to have to watch something educational like the History Channel or PBS. Scratch that.

What else could I do? Lying down and reading a book sounds divine, but I’ve finished my book, as well as my most recent Time. There’s always napping, but I suck at sleeping. It’s hard enough for me at night, so it’s sure as heck not going to happen during the day. I’ve already gotten some exercise today biking the kids in the chariot, so I don’t need to do that again. I could start dinner, but we are barbecuing tonight, and that is Siig’s domain. Wow, finding nothing to do is a lot harder than I thought. I guess after two kids I am out of practice.

I could stare out my window and watch the lilacs bloom, the afternoon thunderstorm threaten but not produce, the pine trees stand regal and watchful and wise while the aspen trees quiver in the breeze beneath them. Wait. I think I just wrote something poetic. That’s something, the opposite of nothing.

It’s hard enough for Americans to do nothing – programmed as we are to always achieve and do, do, do – but I think it’s even harder for women, especially mothers, to just completely chill out. Usually, there is always something to do every second – dirty clothes to pick up, crumbs to clean, dishes to put away, forms to fill out, mouths to feed. To do nothing sometimes seems like a waste of a precious resource, a moment to complete some task. It almost feels awkward to sit still, foreign. We have forgotten the language of nothing, or maybe we simply never knew it.

For some reason, I don’t think men have this same problem. Or maybe they just interpret doing something differently than women. I think for men, something includes drinking beer and watching TV, preferably sports. So maybe I should take my cue from them. I just need to go upstairs, crack open a Budweiser and find the basketball game on ESPN. Then I will finally have achieved the art of nothing.

Crap. No more ESPN. Guess I better stick to doing something. I’m much better at it.

InsomniaMomma

sunrise2sunrisesunrise

I have never been a great sleeper, but lately it seems my choices of how I feel in the morning are one of two things – drugged or tired. I fall asleep fine; it’s the middle of the night or early morning hours that haunt me. I wake up anywhere from 2 to 5 a.m. – because my bladder calls, Kaya lets out a yell in her sleep or a dream ends – and that’s all it takes. I’m awake, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I think my body gets confused. It was asleep, and now it is awake, so it thinks it must be time to get up. I try to talk sense to my self: “No, it is most definitely NOT time to get up. It is still dark and you need at least two more precious hours of sleep.” But my body just won’t listen. I guess I get my stubbornness from somewhere.

My insomnia reached an all time high last spring. I basically did not sleep for the entire month of May. I thought I was going to go crazy. I feared for myself and my children when I was behind the wheel with only two to three hours sleep. Finally, after a horrible two days sleep-walking through my sister’s graduation weekend at Claremont – where I broke down and cried at dinner because I hadn’t slept in so long – I saw a doctor who prescribed Ambien. Ahhh, Ambien. She soon became my best friend, my keeper of deep sleep and sweet dreams. For the past year, we have a had a good relationship. I figured out how to self-dose –  if I woke up at 3 a.m., I knew I only needed a quarter of a pill to get me back to sleep.

But in the last month or so, our relationship has gone awry. I would either take too much or not enough, making me either tired in the morning or feeling in a cloudy haze all day, like I was an astronaut slow-motion walking in space. After a month of not sleeping last year, I am terrified of that sleep-deprived feeling, but I also do not enjoy feeling like my head is awash in bubble gum. It’s strange, not feeling yourself. It makes me wonder how drug addicts do it day in and day out. But I guess their whole point is not to feel, whereas I would like to feel like plain old Melissa again.

Today, I slept straight until 5 a.m. without the aid of medication, which is sort of a cause for celebration, but not really since I would have much preferred to have slept until 6 or 7 a.m. I don’t need a ton of sleep. Seven hours is fine, sometimes I can even make due with six. Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep seems like a pipe-dream to me, but I guess a girl’s gotta dream, after all. I just hope I’m still dreaming when that first crack of sunlight peeps through my window at five in the morning.