I have had problems falling asleep my entire life, even since I was a todler. My brain seems to refuse to shut off and it takes hours of frustrated laying awake before I finally fall asleep.
I've had periods of insomnia throughout my teenage and adult life, but still everything has always been manageable. Still I've always had a healthy respect for sleep. Never more so though than after the last year. As anyone who has read through a few posts on this blog knows, my wonderful little boy had a big problem with sleeping. Not just the normal sleep deprived six weeks, not just the next three months... no. Joseph refused to sleep through the night until he was eight months. He kept waking up four times a night, with the night going from about 10.30 pm till 5.30 am.
I learned many things about myself during those difficult months. Although to be fair I think I learned most of it afterwards. During the eight months I was too busy surviving from day to day, from half hour nap to half hour nap. I do not like the person I become when I have a chronic lack of sleep. My personality changed, my brain didn't function the way it should. I have actual gaps of memory. I could not think of the simpelest words, like fridge. Or bread. Even 'baby'. ANd even the substituting 'thing' would simply escape me.
I started to feel insecure about myself, my life, my choices. I simply did not recognise myself anymore and I doubted if motherhood simply was something I was not cut out to do.
I am thinking of all these things as I am in the midst of a two week spread of bad sleep. From stress to illness, it seems as every other night there is something that limits my sleep to two to three hours a night. And I find some of the symptoms returning. I am definitely more cranky, and common words start to escape me again. Still, ten days... two weeks... with here and there a good night thrown in is nothing compared to what came before.
It is strange to rediscover in these last months, the person I was before sleep deprivation. It is a joy as well to see that I didn't actually change, that what happened was purely physical and not something I did wrong. In a way this annoying episode confirms that. It also makes me feel more encouraged towards future children. They might have the same difficulties as Joseph, but now I know that I have survived this and can do so again, that I will not be permanently changed into a shrew, even though I might feel like one on some days.
They also might be one of those fabled babies that sleep through the night after four weeks... in which case I probably will worry wether or not this is normal, but I think I will be able to adapt soon enough.