Sunday, March 15, 2009

One Theory About Why I Have Insomnia: The Wordy Version.

This is the wordy version.
(Click here for the illustrated version.)

I've been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately.

The irony is, even though I am not sleeping well, Max is! Recently he's been not only ready to go to bed, but actually requesting to go to bed. This is huge. Really, seriously huge.

I've often heard that sleep issues are common in kids with microcephaly, and that some of those issues often resolve with maturation. It's been nearly 8 years in coming, but I do believe we are finally witnessing a bit of that long-awaited maturation kicking in!

There's only one small problem with Max's new chosen sleep routine: it involves me.

That sounds terrible, I know. But he really is picking the wrong person; I am a very light sleeper myself. (Plus a bit of a night owl; I love to putter around in the evening when the house is quiet.) Going to bed at 8:00 p.m. is really cramping my style. And his bony knees & elbows and highly regimented positioning are really cramping my body.

Plus, he has a lot of rules. He must rest his head on my left shoulder, with his head tucked under my chin or pressed firmly into my cheek. (This explains the adult acne newly infesting the left side of my face and neck. He's really warm.) His legs must be wrapped over mine to fall asleep, though occasionally it is acceptable to simply have his feet tucked solidly under my legs. His legs must be drawn up in a tight fetal position, and his knobby knee knobs must then maintain contact with some part of my body at all times. (Until about 3am, when he suddenly needs to stretch and straighten and flex and push, clear down to his toenails, using my slumbering body as resistance.) Finally, the sheet and blanket require a good bit of arranging and fluffing and adjusting and pulling and tugging and flipping until they meet his exacting standards. Once those are adjusted correctly, he then begins the bodily adjustments all over again.

He essentially keeps bustling around and fidgeting until suddenly he is still, and then -- just like that -- he's asleep. I think that is why the phrase "fall asleep" was started; some people really do just abruptly fall into it. (Picture a child running and jumping around the edge of a deep hole, and suddenly he makes a misstep and vanishes. Whoosh -- asleep!!)

I generally lay there and try not to move or breathe or blink wrong. (And to ignore my aching left shoulder.) I am developing a curiously detached mind; I am not really there, but rather walking myself through lists, or re-hashing old conversations, or recalling everything I've ever done wrong in my life....and then trying to quickly backtrack and think about rainbows and fuzzy kittens instead, which doesn't always work. (Because as we all know, rainbows are just a trick of light and there is no pot of gold, and kittens just grow up to be smelly cats that shed all over and pee in the corner of your closet!) Let me tell you, there is something about laying there, captive (not captivated, just captive), while the rest of the world is watching tv or quietly talking or reading a book or playing games or slumbering peacefully (or even heading out for the night!) that leads the mind to negative territory and a general feeling of persecution. Instead of feeling well-rested and caught up on sleep, I am simply becoming more and more irritable. It's ridiculous.

Once he is soundly asleep, I feel my mind heave a big sigh of relief and the earth begins to rotate again.

The bizarre thing is, once he's out, I can flop him and move him and position him and roll over on him, and he will remain asleep as long as I stay beside him. HOWEVER, if I attempt to exit the bed -- say, for example, I slip out of bed to go to the bathroom? -- then he's instantly awake and coming to find me. His eyes aren't even open, but he's upright and moving. It's like he has a 6th sense.

Or maybe he is a heat-seeking missile. He is locked in on a target and does not veer. (And in case you think there is a literal clue in that analogy, we've already considered that. We've tried extra blankets, warmer pjs, piles of pillows -- even the mom-scented-blankets that are so often recommended for babies -- but they don't work.)

So I stay there. In a bed that I wasn't quite ready for, which makes it hard for me to fall asleep. I do sleep during the wee hours, though I have come to rely on melatonin, Benadryl, or NyQuil for assistance.

I wake up early, too, and when I cannot play possum for one more minute, I try to sneak out. He immediately sits up, rubs his eyes and grins at me, and signs "coffee." And so another day begins for one happy, well-rested boy...and his cranky, un-rested mom.

I'm telling you, all this extra sleep is exhausting me!

No comments: