Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sleepless Thoughts

We've long had sleep problems with Sam, as most of you know already. The past two nights we've gone back to our old ways. Sam is cutting a new tooth, and each tooth he cuts is an ordeal. He often gets a rash on his bottom and always runs a fever for the few days before it comes through. Night before last he got up a few times, but last night we thought we were prepared. We gave him ibuprofen and a cool bath before putting him down for the night.

It didn't work.

Around 1:30, Joy got up with a screaming Sam and soothed him back to sleep. 4:30 was my turn. Like most children, Sam finds his mom more comforting. I'm for play, so he has a harder time settling down for me. As I sat there, stroking his head, I was alternately furious with Sam (how dare he keep me up when I desperately need sleep so I can expound the importance of Harry Partch's hobo music to a world that desperately and achingly wants to know about it!) and sorry for him (he wanted to sleep so badly, but just couldn't).

Right now, he's up from a short nap and laying on the couch watching his Thomas the Tank Engine DVD for a little more quiet time. He looks so small and fragile nestled underneath a large blanket and surrounded by mountains of pillows. Looking at him now in the daytime, it is hard to imagine the flood of emotions that went through my head at 4:30 in the morning. I felt utterly helpless and overpoweringly angry and quietly frustrated and completely protective. Before we had Sam, I imagined an outpouring of love for the small innocent entrusted to me. Now I know that parental love is harder and deeper and infinitely more complex than I could ever imagine. And thankfully, I've begun not always beating myself over the head with the emotions I "shouldn't" have, but instead going with the flow and doing the best I can.

It isn't always easy at 4:30 in the morning, but I'm learning.


Liz said...

Gee I'm hoping to learn not to "beat myself over the head." Nate makes me so furious during mealtimes. It used to be a cinch but he has gotten so fussy and messy with eating lately, taking his bib off constantly. It's hard to spoon food into his mouth with one hand and hold his hands away from his bib with the other...

Fahmi said...

I have difficulty managing my anger with my son. He is (as I think I mentioned to you in the past) a few months (two? three?) younger than Sam, and he is currently having trouble sleeping, too. And when he isn't sleeping, I find myself getting angry - furious, even - at him for not sleeping, and then getting angrier at myself for being mad at him when he clearly wants to be asleep.

Sigh. I can handle pretty much any of his antics, but sleep hits a button.

Andrew said...

I guess because we have fewer of our defenses when we are tired, sleep issues really do drive you crazy. And even though I don't beat myself up like I used to about my emotions, it doesn't mean it is easy. and I even end up getting mad with Joy, as in it's her turn to get up and get Sam and now I'm up and that's not fair. When really, we are a team in this endeavor.

And Liz, I've also found that each parent has a different button, and it changes as the kid gets older. Sleep does it for me, but I can see that repeatedly doing an action after I've told him not to will probably overtake it soon.