Sleepless in Toddlerville

by Candy Kirby
Originally Published: 

People warn you about the exhaustion that comes with having a newborn. “Omigod, you’d better get your sleep now because you’ll never get to sleep again once that baby comes!” they cackle knowingly. And, despite wanting to kick them with your swollen feet, you know those know-it-alls are right. So you spend your nine(ish) months of pregnancy steeling yourself for the sleepless nights and searching the online mom forums for helpful advice, such as where you can invest in a Red Bull I.V. drip. Then you pop that kid out – yes, that’s exactly how it happens: POP! – and, as you hold your beautiful alien-like baby for the first time, she slowly opens her eyes, looks up at you and smirks, “I hope you have no intention of sleeping at night for the next six months, woman.”

At least that’s how I translated “WAAAAAAHHHHHH!”

Which is precisely how things went with our firstborn, Miss Skye. She rarely slept through the next for the first six months, but that was okay; I was prepared to handle my infant’s unpredictable sleeping habits, having done my due diligence on credible baby sites such as Yahoo! Answers and Jodie Sweetin’s baby blog, and was somehow able to power through my exhaustion, thanks to NMA (no, not the National Meat Association… New Mom Adrenaline). In fact, the exhaustion was a badge of honor when I was a brand-spankin’-new mom. I boasted about my lack of sleep on Facebook, knowing others moms would empathize – not to brag, but I garnered a personal record of 51 “Likes” for my clever post-baby status update: “YAWN” – and worked the bags under my eyes like they were the latest, trendiest accessory (which they kind of are here in Los Angeles, land o’ endless stream of celebrity babies).

Then, just when I started to hit a wall, Miss Skye generously ended my near-misery. My husband and I didn’t do anything special to settle her into a better routine, such as setting rigid schedules or letting her “cry it out” or adding a shot of Jack Daniels to her bottle. She simply started sleeping through the night – from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. (can I get a “hallelujah”?) – when she turned six months old. Now two-and-a-half years old, Miss Skye is still a champion sleeper who considers early mornings even more offensive than the pairing of “Kimye.” Because this was the only experience I had, I assumed most all kids grew out of their vampiric sleep schedules by the time they were six months old. “Ha, haaaaa! Piece of cake,” I crowed to myself, thankful I never dropped any money on a Red Bull I.V. drip. (They were backordered.)

Then I had my son.

More than a year later, and that boy continues to wake up every three-to-four hours with no sign of relief in sight. People warn you about the exhaustion that comes with having a newborn – why does nobody warn you about the mind-numbing, unable-to-remember-your-own-name-let-alone-remember-to-put-pants-on exhaustion that comes with kids who refuse to sleep for AN ENTIRE YEAR (AND BEYOND)? The reserves of my New Mom Adrenaline have been drained, my badge of honor has been revoked and my brain has since been replaced with a bowl of oatmeal. There is nothing cool about being the mother of a one-year-old who still refuses to sleep at night and no special “Cranky Moms of Older Babies Who Are Bad Sleepers” clubs on; when I posted “Tired” on Facebook the other day, I received one measly response: WAKE UP!

Thanks for your support, Mom.

Speaking of my mother, I was sharing my tale of woe with her the other day and she said, “Well, YOU didn’t sleep until you were three years old.” Chilling words, we can all agree, perhaps even more frightening than when my husband says, “Uh-oh. It’s all the way up the baby’s back.” So I asked Mom how she coped with the exhaustion, to which she responded:

“How the hell should I know? You left the house seventeen years ago and I’m STILL catching up on my sleep.”

Maybe I should go check on the status of that I.V. drip, after all.

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