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Warning: serious post

I should be asleep right now. It’s 5:29 am and I’ve been up for at least an hour, ever since Elisabeth woke up last to nurse. But I couldn’t fall back to sleep and decided after my plan to go to bed early last night backfired, that I would get up and do something productive instead of just laying there, growing more anxious.

As a child I often had a hard time falling asleep.  My thoughts would wander in unconnected ways and it would be midnight and I’d still be awake, at age eleven.  This went away after a time but I’ve always feared that it would return.  And maybe now, in a horrible bed, muddled by a time change adjustment that I should have kicked by now, exacerbated by Elisabeth’s constant waking to nurse, the sleeplessness demon has finally returned for me.  It feels like a demon because I’m clearly helpless (even when awake!) to make changes that would allow me to sleep better.  Our room, for example, has the horrible combination of being blindingly bright without enough air: it’s either too warm or too cool…but only at night. The bed is rock hard with no sheet (Germans for some reason don’t believe in a top sheet) and a humungous Euro pillow which up until now I’d assumed were decorative in purpose.

A happy, sleeping person...not me.

A happy, sleeping person…not me.

I mean, they are so massive that your head can never rest comfortably on them.  And size isn’t the only issue.  The stuffing in that damned pillow is broken, for lack of a better word, so bits surround your head but don’t really cushion it.  I never knew how good I had it at home with my lovely coconut pillow on my bed, so…intact, perfect and truly sinkable.

It’s a horrible thing to wake up and have the first thought in your mind be a wondering of when you might be able to go back to sleep.  Especially on vacation!  You feel guilty for not wanting to explore the city but really you shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the house, let alone with a toddler, with the little amount of sleep you have in your system.  Example: you packed for a day road trip on Friday night and forgot to include wipes in the diaper bag.  Wipes. Of all the things that a parent of a one year old cannot, under any circumstances, cannot forget, you did.  They weren’t there. Then, you did it again.  The mom who has wipes and an extra diap in the BOB forgets to pack wipes on two separate car trips.  She who walks around with a teething ring in her back pocket, just in case, spaced the wipes, twice in a row. So you start worry about that slip-up. The sleeplessness demon feeds that worry like a dealer with drugs until you feel so anxious about your lack of sleep that your belief that you might never sleep again seems perfectly reasonable.

Didn’t those with insomnia just do too much before bed? Their brains are too active, they watch TV or text in bed, answer email while on the toilet. And I admit that I, too, have done all of those things. Late nights at the computer (how else could I get anything done with a baby??!), eating dinner past 7 pm.  Check, check.  But I turned off the computer at 9:10 last night, deliberately trying to cultivate a “sleep-oriented mindset” (is that what they call it?) and nothing happened.  I lay there listening to my own breathing, watching the light fade from the room, wondering when my husband would come to bed. Granted, I was at the other end of the bed with one hand stretched through the crate crib bars so I could hold my Elisabeth’s hand in as much of an effort as I could make without waking her to ensure she was still alive and breathing.  Not because she had stopped breathing at any point but because the story of a toddler who died at age 14 months in his sleep had leapt to my mind earlier when she had woke crying. I have the sleeplessness demon to thank for that horrible reminder, I’m sure.

So, I sit here yawning, bare legs stuck to a faux leather couch knowing it’s too late for any sleep tonight/today. Elisabeth will nap sometime today, at least once.  Instead of visits to a castle or strolls along the Nekkar river, I’ll be looking forward to that particular activity today. Who knows?  Maybe I’ll become so productive with this lack of sleep that I will finish my road trip post (without mention of the missing wipes, no need to re-hash that again), complete with pictures.  Or…not.

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