February 15, 2011

No Sleep For You!

Sleep is one of the more uncertain aspects of our daily lives. It's more complicated for my wife, since she has to wake up at least twice during the night to pump milk, and getting back to sleep for her can be a challenge.

For me, the trick is being able to fall asleep at all. My old college-era companion, insomnia, has begun to rear its unwelcome head. Unlike college, I feel like I can't just chase it away with Unisom or something similar because--if we should receive one of those hair-straightening NICU calls in the middle of the night--I don't want to be in one of those sleeping pill hazes during which I put socks on my hands, throw a pair of boxer shorts over my head and hop into a motorized vehicle, which I'd promptly navigate into a creek.

Thankfully, it's not perpetual insomnia. I'll have nights I can sleep fairly well, and then I'll have other nights during which the sound of mouse farts make my eyes flick open, never to be shut again, or at least until 5 or 6 a.m., at which point I drift off for a brisk 20 minutes before our 16-month-old wakes up and demands my immediate attention.

I actually dozed off ever so briefly when I was holding my daughter during Kangaroo Care the last time. It's a bit tricky NOT to doze off, to be perfectly honest. First of all, it's very dark in Zoey's NICU room, and it's kind of warm. And, when the symphony of bells and alarms aren't playing their discordant tunes, it can be very peaceful. Finally, holding a little grapefruit of a human being requires a sort of stillness that can normally only be obtained by Buddhist monks in deep meditation. All of this combines into a perfect calm that practically insists I fall asleep.

As I said, I only dozed off briefly last time, but when I pulled myself back to consciousness, the feeling of clammy dread that came with it ensured that particular evening would see no more sleep for me, thank you very much. I spent that night editing and categorizing Flip videos.

One video in particular I watched over and over again. It was a 30 second segment my wife recorded of me. . . sleeping. I look so peaceful and content and worry free.

Stupid video.

Posted by Ryan at February 15, 2011 07:19 PM | TrackBack

When I worked as an air traffic controller and had round-the-clock crazy shifts that were scheduled by Satan himself who took great delight in never giving me the same schedule for more than two weeks at a time, the one thing I could count on was insomnia at least two nights a week. The stress of the frenetic work pace and the constant clashing with the strong-willed people I worked with manifested itself with adrenalin surges just as I was trying to get to sleep. As soon as my head hit the pillow my mind took off like a rocket and my thoughts raced off on tangents that I couldn't control: What if the orthodontist is wrong and it really WAS that pacifier we let her have for far too long? What am I going to do if my beautiful girl has to wear ugly headgear and it's all my fault? Where are we going to get the money to pay the orthodontist? Out of my 401k? Out of Daddy's 401k? Is that even an allowable expense? Should we just get on the payment plan? Why did I have to tell my mother-in-law (who's a lovely woman) to mind her own damn business when she tried to tell me to nip that bibby habit while my beautiful girl was still a toddler or I'd regret it? Why couldn't I have just listened to She Who Raised 6 Children With Perfectly Straight Teeth and No Bibbies Ever? Why am I such a bitch? Speaking of bitches, if (redacted) yells at me about my stripmarking one more time I swear to beans I am going to tip her chair over with her in it. Then she'll say this and I'll say that. Then we're slapping and hair-pulling and screaming at each other and it's all happening in my mind in real time on an endless loop and I am now hyper awake and I might as well get up and do some laundry because my flopping around in the bed will wake my husband and he needs his sleep too. I couldn't take sleeping pills or have a glass of wine before bed because what if something happened and I needed to drive someone to the hospital? So I'd go without sleep one night, sometimes two nights in a row, then I'd spend the day either sleepwalking under water or strung out on Red Bull snapping around the house or the radar room like a wet towel and hating my life and what I'd become. When I finally resigned from that job (when Daddy's business took off) it took me almost a whole year to calm down and gain a normal circadian rhythm.

My point is this: It will get better. When your beautiful girl is safe at home and sleeping through the night and your wife is completely healed and your financial situation is resolved and you can finally exhale, you'll be able to sleep again and everything will look better.

Posted by: Kirstin at February 16, 2011 01:30 AM

You need to write a book Ryan. You're SO good at such a humerous perspective. Love it!

Posted by: Danielle Teal at February 17, 2011 01:37 PM
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