Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Eyes Wide Open

This past Sunday, I admitted defeat.  After Lis finally stopped screaming and went to sleep, I sat in a chair for almost an hour, silently crying and staring straight ahead.  When I finally got a grip, Vor made a comment about how we need to do a better job of vacuuming the floor (“I can’t believe you let her run around on this floor”) (which sounds like a real jerk thing to say, but I know that by you he meant we, and yes we have a dog who sheds, so there you go), and I took everything out of context, and I just stood there, crying, unable to say a word.  I basically stared straight ahead for aloes to two and a half hours that night, not speaking, not moving, just crying.  Vor was baffled.  I was not.

Sleep, people.  We all need some here.

Usually, when you see someone post about how they had this breakdown, its followed by, “Oh, but that night, she finally slept,” or, “She slept better, and I got some sleep,” but no.  It only got worse.  Before it was just waking up.  Since last Friday, it’s been hysterical screaming, shaking, eyes wide open but not seeing, must be in constant contact with one of us.  Night terrors.

I took her to the doctor yesterday.  Hand, foot, and mouth, AGAIN, which is undoubtedly not helping the sleeping.  And night terrors.  For which you can apparently do nothing. 

Vor and I are falling apart because of the lack of sleep, the constant screaming, the stress, etc.  I can’t stop crying at every.little.thing., and he is losing his temper.  We are deliberately (subconsciously) taking everything the other person says the wrong way, and becoming offended at every word out of each other’s mouths.  We’ve lost all patience with each other, because we have to lose it with each other, and not her.  In an effort to keep as calm as possible with Lis, we are directing all of our frustration and angry and hurt and lack of sleep at each other, because, well, I can take if he gets mad at me, and vice versa. 

Is it always like this?  Are all kids sleepless like this?  Do all new parents never ever sleep and watch their relationships disintegrate because of sheer lack of sleep?

I’m at a loss.  I don’t know what to do, how to help Lis, how to help ourselves.  I feel like we just can’t catch a break.  It’s just NOT FAIR, DAMNIT.  I have a baby who went through massive surgery for something that could have severely injured or even killed her.  It was terrible, awful, and now this, too?  Now I also have a baby who can’t sleep, who wakes up every hour screaming? 

I just can’t.  I just can’t.


Gillian said...

Yes, to all of your questions. And for exactly the reasons you name. I cannot strangle my child, so I beat up on my husband.

You have the extra stress of dealing with the aftermath of the surgery. I think that all of these things piled on top of you deteriorate your resilience - it gets harder and harder to bounce back.

It will end. You will make it through. You and Vor are not alone in your new-found petty jabs - we've all been there. Once you get some sleep, you will have the capacity to be sweet again. My brother had night terrors for a while - they ended, of their own accord, shortly after they began. Lis will someday sleep through. You can make it to that point. It seems impossible, but you'll get there.

AAL said...

Yes. We have all been there. I have cried those same tears. I have functioned on too little sleep for too little time. My fantasy for many months was checking into a hotel room by myself for two nights.

I had a very hard kid to get to sleep. It was a battleground for a long time, and all the conventional things failed. Only when school started (and she was physically exhausted from all the outside play) did it help. (Daycare activity? Not enough. Never was enough.)

Gillian is right. It will get better. You will get back to something normalish. Hugs from us.

LawMommy said...

First, I am so sorry. This is a terribly stressful situation and it sucks and when you are in the midst of it, it seems like it will never end, never get better, etc.

There was a time when commercials for sleeping pills (ambien in particular) sent me into hysterical crying jags because at the end of the commercial it said, "Don't take Ambien unless you can devote 7 to 8 hours to uninterrupted sleep." And I believed that I would never, ever be able to devote more than 2 hours to uninterrupted sleep and that thought made me want to throw myself off a bridge.

Don't throw yourself off a bridge.

Accept that you are not going to be able to get the floor vacuumed. It's not going to happen and it's not important right now.

You need to make a list of the things that actually are important, and that list probably needs to look like this:

1. Sleep
2. Marriage
3. Lis
4. Work
5. Food

Those are the only things you can possibly be expected to handle when you are not getting enough sleep and dealing with a baby who is not getting enough sleep.

Do not, under any circumstances, feel guilty about getting sleep anywhere you can get it. The best advice I had from my law school dean (when I ended up crying hysterically in her office because my law review paper was going badly and she looked at me and said, "when was the last time you got any real sleep?" and I said, "before my son was born" - and she told me to go home after my 2:00 class and sleep for two hours EVERY DAY and I did and I swear on all that is holy that she saved my life with that. Because up until then I believed naps were not acceptable, and that's just b.s.

Since you work full time you probably can't take a two hour nap every day, but my point is - grab sleep when you can get it. Go to bed when you put her down for bed. Take a nap on the weekends when she is napping. Take turns letting eachother go to bed BEFORE the baby goes to bed, even if this means that your husband has to wake you up before he puts her down so she can nurse one more time. The sleep you get before she goes to bed will still help.

Try not to attack eachother, forgive eachother when you do, and get through this wretched time in one piece.


LawMommy said...

Oh, and it will get better. :-)

CM said...

Oh, I am so sorry. This sounds terrible. It will pass eventually... but you need to survive this first. Is there anybody at all who could help you, who could take the baby away for a few hours so you could sleep? Can you pay somebody to help you? I've had horrible strings of sleepless nights with a newborn, but this sounds worse than what my two kids put me through.

Anonymous said...


Rosebud had night terrors as a child.

Anonymous said...

Yes. Like Gillian said, "I cannot strangle my child, so I beat up on my husband."
It is so damn hard, this parenting business. Our relationship has never been so tested, and I don't know just how far we can push each other.
I also want to kill other parents who say their children sleep through the night, or at least only wake up a few times, and most especially the grandparents who refer to crying it out and strongly suggest it for us.
Good luck to you.

Grace said...

Thanks, people. It hasn't gotten any better, but at least we know what we're dealing ith, and we have a plan.

Alice in Wonderland said...

You are certainly not alone. For the first 10 weeks of my baby's life I NEVER smiled at my husband, not once. The 'high' lowpoint is when I totally cussed him out for saying something really innocuous in front of a babysitter and the babysitter never came back! I was a scary scary sleep-deprived witch. Our baby was colicky and had bad reflux so there you have it. Hope you're able to hire or get more help--don't feel guilty about it!!! Those cute little things can be A LOT to handle.