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How Motherhood Made Me an Insomniac

Photo via healthtap.com

Photo via healthtap.com

A few months ago, my husband looked at me in the morning when we woke up and asked what was wrong. I said I was exhausted, which was actually an understatement. “Why can’t you sleep?”  He asked. “Do you have a sleep disorder or something?” Well, the answer is yes. I do. It’s called motherhood.

When I was pregnant, every mother I spoke to was telling me to sleep while I had the chance. Honestly, I wanted to punch them in the face. Alright, ladies, let me just ignore the nine pound human being kicking me in the ribs, the fact that I need at least six pillows to get remotely comfortable, and the problem that I need to pee every eight minutes. Sleep while I can? Are you for real?

Now, I get it. I know why they say that. Motherhood is actually far more sleep-depriving than pregnancy. I expected to lose sleep in the beginning. I knew the baby would be up every two hours to eat. What I didn’t know is that almost sixteen months into parenting, I still sleep so little that I could probably be diagnosed with motherhood-induced insomnia. I literally have not slept straight through the night in two years.

While we have had a few stretches of time when the baby was sleeping consistently from about 8pm-6am, something always comes along that totally screws any progress we’ve made. You know what I mean – a bad head cold or an out of town trip that ruins the routine. And teething is the absolute worst culprit of them all. I don’t blame my son. If I had five sharp teeth cutting through my gums and and waking me up constantly, I’d scream at night, too.

Several weeks ago, I stayed at my mom’s house for a few days while my husband was out of town. My fifteen month old barely slept that entire weekend. One night, he got up twice to drink bottles of milk before getting up for the day at 5:30am. In the morning, my mom asked me, “Why’s he getting up for bottles at night? He’s too old for that. That’s just a bad habit.” First of all, I HATE comments about my parenting choices from anyone, especially my mother. My theory is, unless you are offering me a solution and you are willing to come over and train me in how to fix the problem, then don’t point out my parenting problems.

While I was pissed at my mom at the time, she’s right. And let me tell you, the only thing worse than annoying comments from your mother is when she’s actually saying something that makes good sense. In my defense, here’s what happened. Over the past several months, when my son woke up at night crying, I gave him a bottle and rocked him back to sleep. That’s what I’ve always done since he was a newborn. I guess I didn’t consider that it was eventually going to become a bad habit. Plus, at 3:00am, I’m pretty much running on auto-pilot. I’m practically sleep walking at that hour, so I had no idea what the hell I was doing. But the result of this night time routine is that I’ve created a monster. A midnight milk craving, bottle slugging, toddler monster.

The problem with motherhood for me is that there are a multitude of reasons why I have insomnia beyond my milk addicted toddler. Between making mental to-do lists while laying in bed and getting up to pee because I drank too much wine, I literally never sleep. Then, I fall into the trap of clock watching, counting the minutes until my alarm goes off, followed by getting pissed at the neighbor’s dog for barking outside my bedroom at ridiculous hours of the night. Of course, if I’m awake, then I might as well check my e-mails and post a bitter Tweet about how tired and crabby I’m going to be in the morning.

We decided to wean the baby off bottles during the day and midnight feedings in an attempt to help him learn to sleep through the night. By the way, it’s not helping my insomnia situation. I feel like we are having a battle of the wills at 2:00am every night. Unfortunately, I created a strong-minded, persistent child who is determined to spend every night torturing me until I give in to his crazy addiction. I swear, if there was bottle rehab for babies, I’d send him.

But my mom’s comments are constantly swirling in my head and I know I can’t give in and let him drink all night. That’s the thing about mothers. Even when they live out of town, they are constantly nagging you. I know once we get through it, we’ll all be sleeping a little bit better. Now if I could only find a way to stop spending my nights making my grocery list in my head and counting how many minutes I have left until my dreaded alarm goes off. I should probably stop Tweeting in the middle of the night, too, but my social media obsession is an entirely separate blog post in itself.

In the meantime, I’ll give you all pregnant ladies some advice. I know – you’re going to want to punch me in the face for saying this, but get some sleep while you can. Seriously.



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