Forgetting Sleep

In the bleary recesses of my Friday-addled mind, I try to remember what sleep was like.

It is this ever-elusive concept in the distance that I cannot quite reach. It has been so long since drifting off, gracefully sighing into pillow and comforter, languidly stretching to comfortable repose until the alarm buzzes through the peace yet again the next morning was a reality in my world.

Now it feels normal, and if I do get more than three hours in a row, I awaken groggy and disoriented, drunk on the REM phases and lingering strange dreams. Not sleeping makes your dreams very vivid, and very absurd.

I stopped sleeping through the night when my ever-so-pregnant body decided it would no longer accomodate the luxury of extended periods spent in slumber. I would awaken several times a night, shifting, poking, fixing, and packing pillows around my tired, heavy limbs. I joked that “It was my body’s way of getting ready for when the baby comes!”. I had no way of knowing how true that statement was.

Then the baby came, and the ridiculousness of a truly sleep depived woman began.

I forgot simple things, like the name for milk, my father’s phone number, or where I put my coffee the moment I set it down. I tripped over my own feet, I put the remote for the TV in the freezer when I was looking for frozen peas. I couldn’t comprehend simple math when baking, and being able to write even a coherent sentence made me sweat with the effort. Putting pants on in the morning was deemed optional. I wrote everything down in a little blue notebook, because I would never remember it otherwise. Well, written down when I could remember where I put the book.

It was a blessing to everyone on the roads I was not allowed to drive for two months after our son joined us. I would have been a danger behind the wheel. I am sure I would have forgotten how to operate the window wipers, or failed to notice the cars in front of me as I plowed through them.

“I’m sorry officer, I haven’t slept in three days… No, I haven’t been drinking… No… I’m not on drugs. I have a newborn.”

My ever-so-understanding husband would tell me, in the early days, “Mind over matter!” or “It can’t be that bad!” as he dressed for work, a full six hours of sleep making him chipper and bright-eyed. He would whistle as he straightened his tie, and I would frump about with weed-whipper hair and a spit-upon bathrobe, my hormones and altered-reality brain fantasizing about stabbing him with a spoon. If nothing else, I thought that sitting beside him with our newborn all night so he could share in the joy of our one, three, and five AM feedings with a hungry, squalling baby might give me some satisfaction.

It did, if only temporarily.

To be honest, it was a good thing at least one of us was getting sleep. In the hospital before we went home with our son, my husband was awake to care for us most of the time that my baby and I were, and by the end of it, I wasn’t sure he could remember his own name. Sleep deprivation treats him like a boxer’s punching bag, and he fares worse than me. I got used to it. He never has.

I learned to work with the constant tiredness. The moment my tiny bundle even closed an eye, I was dive-bombing the couch with an afgan throw at the ready. With military precision, I, the woman who normally took more than a half an hour to fall asleep, and had to be positioned just so before she could, could close my eyes and be comatose in five minutes, whether sitting at the kitchen table or crumpled on the floor, beside my son in his bouncy seat.

I was a self-induced narcoleptic.

Our son has been up the past few nights more than in recent months, and I realize that I have gotten soft. I have been enjoying three hour stretches of sleep with little regard to the luxury of it. My battle hardened senses are growing lazy, lulled into complacency by proper rest and a naturally-settled schedule. I’m back to not being able to function on very little sleep, just like I was when my son was born.

So, this morning, as I sip my coffee, and attempt some level of coherence in my technical diddley, I am reminded of those early days. The seeming endless nights, the long, drawn out days waiting for a chance to nap, the moments when I realized that using a knife was a bad, bad idea, the frustration at not having any sharpness of wit or memory.

Its going to be a long, long day today… Now where did I put my keys?

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