Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Stupid Tired

I was catching up on some financial paperwork yesterday by reconciling a couple months worth of statements from a credit card account.  I was absolutely astonished when I realized that we had almost $30 of interest charged on that account in February.  I quickly looked to make sure that I hadn't somehow missed a payment...  but no, I had paid the card on time.  I checked the following month and the previous month, and they both had on time payments, plus another $20 worth of interest paid.  What on earth did I do?  Was there some mistake?

After a little more digging, I realized that somehow I had only paid 2/3 of February's credit card balance.  We always pay our balances in full, and I always do so by clicking the "pay statement balance" button on the bank website.  How did I somehow change this amount?  How did I not notice this?

I'm noticing more and more strange things like this.  Things put in strange places, words that just can't come to mind, ending up in places in my house, holding things that don't make sense and not knowing why...  but what is far worse are the times when I blow pass the exit I was supposed to take, or miss a turn to a place I know well.  I'm trying to drive slowly and to never tailgate because I know my reaction time is not ideal... but can I guarantee that I'm always remembering to do so?  And what about those times when I find myself creeping up on the car in front of me because I've become inattentive?

Last night was a pretty average night.  I nursed Hannah, then put her in the crib at about 9:30.  She woke at about 11, then I nursed her and brought her into bed with me.  She was awake again at about 1, then 3, then 5, then up with me at 7.  She's 16 months old.  She slept better when she was four months old, and then it gradually got worse until it settled into this sort of pattern in October or November.  Some nights are better, it might only be two or three times...  but then other nights are worse.

Do you see a problem here?

I've come to realize that even though I have five children, I never really learned how to handle infant sleep.  Not that they're all the same, but my strategy has long been to suffer and wait it out.  And eventually they do learn to go to sleep alone, and to sleep through the night.  Some learned at around 16 months, and others took until 2 or even two and a half.  We're not one of those families where all the kids are in and out of bed with us all night, or up half the night asking for a glass of water.  Everyone else sleeps in their own bed and sleeps through the night without any hassles.  Everyone but the baby toddler.

But you know what?  I'm tired.  Really, really tired.  I'm not sure I have it in me to wait it out again. I'm not as young as I used to be, and maybe that's part of the problem.  But I'm also really stretched right now too, far more stretched when there were just little people around.  Right now I can go from a conversation about the probabilities of extraterrestrial life and if such life would have a soul to the latest and greatest plans for the drawbridge outside to "Mom, can I have a snack?" to "Mom, will you read me a story?" to "Ahhh!" with little arms waving in the air.

All in about three minutes.

And while I'm trying to make dinner.  I think.  At least that's what it looks like, because there are veggies everywhere and I'm holding a knife.  But I have to search my mind pretty hard to try and remember what exactly it was I was doing.  Or making.  And I've become too tired to try and focus enough to follow a recipe most nights.  I just cook by instinct.  Thankfully I've been cooking long enough that my instincts are pretty decent.  And people are still eating and complementing me on their dinners, so that's a plus.

Ages and ages ago, back when our thirteen year old was a wee little one who never wanted to nap or sleep at night, I read a lot of Dr. Sears.  And I'm starting to think that perhaps that was a mistake.  I know they had a gaggle of kids - more than me, if I remember correctly - but somehow I can't help to think that I've been led astray.  Or at least my memory of those books has led me astray? Entirely possible.

But I looked at his site a little while back, and I was struck by how much fear-mongering there is in what I was reading.  Do these things, or BAD THINGS WILL HAPPEN!  Subtle bad things that you won't notice or realize until it is TOO LATE!  I'm simplifying and exaggerating, but nonetheless...  my impression of what I was reading is vastly different as a mother with thirteen years experience than that brand new mom over a decade ago.

And I'm left wondering...  perhaps there are subtle bad things that can happen to a child if you don't co-sleep and nurse all night long on demand and all that sort of thing.  But aren't there bad things that can happen to my marriage because I'm so tired all the time?  Bad things that can happen in my relationships with my other children, because I'm forgetful and short tempered and inattentive and sometimes just can't get up the nerve to gather all of those energetic little bodies together and try to do what I'm supposed to do with them?  (And what was that anyway??)  And what about all these little lives who are trusting me behind the wheel as I try to get them to Atrium and clay class and field trips and the grocery store?

FOLLOW-UP:  Things got better!


  1. That last paragraph ---> YES!! The more parenting books I read the more I'm of the opinion most of those people are just writing to sell books. There is some good stuff in there but sooo much fear mongering over ruining you children because you did/didn't tell them no. Did/didn't co-sleep. Did/didn't let them cry. Did/didn't..... It's the Parenting 3rd Law. For every child raising opinion there is an equal and opposite opinion. And don't get me started on the Momternet.

    I just know you need SLEEP to function for yourself and your family. I don't have any words of wisdom because what works for one kid never seems to work for another but I hope that you figure out a routine that will work for you soon. (((hugs)))

    1. Thanks, Val, I appreciate it! And I totally agree - the parenting book market is definitely oversaturated with fear-mongering. I seldom read anything in that genre, and haven't in years... but I am dipping a little into it again just because I feel like I need to broaden my toolset (which, really, was stuck at one tool - clearly I need help in this department!). I found one based on a recommendation called Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight that so far I am liking a lot. So far I'm finding it encouraging, practical, honest and with no "you will ruin your child if you don't do X" sort of overtones. Now to see how well it works!

  2. I feel the same way as you. I've only been gifted with two boys and struggled from the beginning with the sleep issue. I have tried to make a balance. Meeting the needs of the family as a whole has been my priority. I still co slept for longer than most, but I did night wean when it was impacting too much on my days, especially when my husband deployed for a long time.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Lucy! Yes, I would think that having your husband deployed plus the night wakings would really make things difficult. I'm strongly considering night weaning too. I think that it will be a good step to take. Now to actually take it...

  3. I stumbled on your blog and have to say that I so understand this post...I am so tired also...10 month old not sleeping here well either. :(

    1. I'm sorry to hear that, I hope you're able to start getting some sleep soon! Thanks for your comment and I'll keep you in my prayers.

  4. Amber, I can so relate. I had this same quandary and probably would *still* be sticking with my guilt-and-fear-induced parenting choices if it were not for the wisdom and objective perspective of my husband. He has seen me at my absolute low, after months of being completely sleep-deprived (waking up every two hours to pump for 30 minutes, while also waking up every two hours to feed *two* infants--the math doesn't even work at that point! LOL), and he insisted on some changes. I fought him on it, of course, but it turned out that the decisions I thought would do long-term damage to my babies (sleep training and also formula, in our case) actually were the best course of action given the position we were in. Since then, and because of that overwhelming beginning to our parenting journey, we have adjusted our parenting style to take into account the overall happiness of our family, our marriage, and my mental health (none of which deserve to be overlooked).

    My main takeaway from our experience has been to let go of the idea that parenting choices involving things like sleep or food are moral issues. They are presented as such by some of the experts, but they aren't. We should be free to weigh the needs of our infant alongside the needs of other members of the family, set our family's personal priorities, and move forward without guilt or fear. I have no idea how long it would have taken me to get to this point on my own, because I was so caught up in doing "what's best for baby" that it would have taken me many babies to get desperate enough to consider trying something different. (Besides the fact that "what's best for baby" is relative anyway.;))

    Also, I recently came upon a post that reminds me of what you're describing: http://www.catholicallyear.com/2014/10/how-i-changed-my-mind-about-sleep.html

    Thank you for writing this! I think there are so many moms in this position, feeling overtired and like maybe they should reconsider how to handle this whole baby thing... :)

  5. Wow, the math really doesn't add up there, does it! I really appreciate your comment, Celeste, and the link you shared with me. It is a difficult situation, especially since I certainly don't want to be feeling like I am not doing all I can as a parent. It is easy for me to very myopically look only at the baby, and not at the bigger picture of the family - or only to look at the bigger picture of the family and feel overwhelmed and hopeless because I put the baby and the rest of the family at odds with each other. I think it is absolutely wonderful that your husband was able to help make sense of all this so much earlier on - obviously it is taking us a lot longer!

    I really appreciated the link you sent, that was helpful too. This whole bigger family thing is a real learning curve, and it can be difficult to find good places to get good information and help.

  6. This is such an interesting post (I came back to leave a comment a few days after first reading it!), and it reminds me of a post I read recently from another blogger about attachment parenting having led them astray in some regards, but I can't remember whose or find it now, of course. :-P

    When we just had one baby, and I could actually do some of the things they tell you to do (nap when the baby naps, for example), co-sleeping worked so well. She also took a pacifier and effectively night-weaned herself before turning one, and if she woke in the night, it was just needing her pinky reinserted, which I could do half asleep. Even night nursing didn't bother me too much until her top teeth came in and the latch of a slightly lip-tied baby became uncomfortable. This second time around is already a whole different thing, so I can't imagine a fifth!! I'm so much more tired, not handling the wakings cheerfully AT ALL, haha, and definitely feeling like as Ree approaches one year old we need to consider night weaning and maybe making some other changes as well.

    This is going to sound crazy, but even though I know I should try to formulate a plan (read the book you found helpful, talk with Nathan about possibly needing to increase his nighttime involvement for a few weeks, get ready to have things be more difficult for a while with baby upstairs in her own room and going up and down the stairs multiple times a night, etc.) it seems easier in the day to day to keep doing what we're doing than to do the work of changing things, even though when I imagine what if three weeks from now we were all sleeping through the night in our own beds I could practically jump for joy at the mere thought. Did you find it was harder in the short term, and therefore hard to take that leap into making the changes?

    sorry for the mega long comment :)

    1. Gah! I just lost my mega-long comment I typed as an answer!!

      Yes, I did find it very hard to make the change in the short term. I was in that mode from about Oct. until about two weeks ago. What got me out of it was feeling way more sleep deprived than ever (to the point where I was starting to feel regularly dangerous behind the wheel), and realizing how much of my sleep deprived induced bad attitude was spilling over to my kids - not only at them, but they were picking it up as well and using it on each other.

      If I hadn't read that book I don't know if I would have gone through with anything... but that book gave me a plan that seemed reasonable and didn't require much more from me than diligence and perseverance, both things I tend to be pretty good at (for good or ill!) Having that conversation with a friend helped too, because she told me that I really shouldn't be living like this, and I didn't need to be living like this - and even if I didn't like her exact method, it gave me a glimmer of hope that maybe there was another option.

      This whole baby thing is such a tough road - I feel like some people walk it with grace and aplomb, but I just don't. At all. They sure are amazing little people though...