Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Join the club!

I haven't had a good night's sleep since September of 1994 (I became pregnant with my first child that month!). Mothers of grown children tell me that you don't get a solid and peaceful six hours of rest until your youngest is four. Upon further reflection, I decided that once you have become a mother, you will never *really* get true peace... awake or asleep.
I imagine this holds true whether you have one child or ten.

Oh sure, the reasons for and types of unrest change over the years:
-newborns keep you physically exhausted.
-toddlers and grade-schoolers keep you awake when they are sick or in pain (physical or
-teenagers disturb your rest by breaking curfews.
-adult children may not be physically *there*, but all their issues will keep a mom
tossing and turning until the wee hours.

My revelation brought on a new epiphany: THIS is why death is known as "eternal rest"!

But, until we move onto Paradise, how are we supposed to handle all this exhaustion?

Some tried-and-true "quick-fixes" are lots of caffeine and a few cat-naps. I, myself, can drink a full pot of coffee every day and take an afternoon nap with the baby. But, by 9 o'clock in the evening, I'm ready for bed. Let me qualify the above statements by saying that, prior to having children, I was Ms. Night Owl; I could easily make it on 4-5 hours of sleep and any caffeinated beverage consumed after 2 PM would keep me awake all night.

It was probably Kid #2 that brought me to my knees.
I can remember many nights spent begging a 2-month-old for "just 45 minutes of sleep, PLEASE!". My husband even wondered allowed if there was such a thing as a safe, herbal sedative for babies. How about ether?

Since my sixth baby was born just 15 months ago, I've had a slight change of perspective, though.

In April of 2006, our 2nd daughter (5th baby) was stillborn on her due date. Extreme grief can make a few months of sleep deprivation look like a walk in the park. In truth, I promised God any sacrifice if only he would give me another baby to hold.
So, when our son was born (screaming his little lungs out! Hallelujah!) in July of 2007, I can honestly say it was the joy of my existence (and my husband's) to stay awake holding this sweet, breathing baby. Although it may sound unbelievable, on some nights it felt like an honor to have this new life who needed to be nursed, swaddled, and walked.

My mother has prepared/assured me that sometimes a teenager coming home after curfew, may just be looking for Mom/Dad to give some uninterrupted time and/or help with a problem. (How did she figure that one out?!)

As an adult offspring, I have found some of my most rewarding conversations with my parents have come about at inopportune moments in the middle of the night (i.e. returning from an ER run with a sick child).

And, while I hope none of you ever has to experience something as heartbreaking as losing a child, I do hope you can benefit from my experience in this area and the way it changed my outlook.

"This too shall pass" is an all-encompassing phrase that is applicable to every situation.
Grief will subside, colicky babies will mature, the flu will go away, teenagers will stop rebelling...

And, sleepless nights may become your most cherished moments with your children.


  1. I can definitely connect with your sleepless years. I too was and am still a natural insomniac and can stay awake until the wee hours. Even with kids and babies I did survive on very little if any sleep.
    However, eventually we all do age some (probably from all those sleepless nights from kids, especially teenagers) and a few gray hairs later I really do need more hours of sleep. Since I am medically disabled now and had to quit work, it helps that I can sleep in to make up for my night owlness.
    I too lost a baby boy at 2 1 1/2 months old from medical complications years ago. The overwhelming grief and agony from that loss does eventually pass into a more intermitent heavy weight in my heart (it's been 24 years)with some tears still at times, but you are right, we go on don't we. I too needed a baby to hold and to raise and so I adopted children to fulfill that. Three of them. The first two were 3 years old each and I still wanted a baby so finally I got a 3 month old baby boy and he finally helped heal my deep longing to finish what I started. I really do know what you went through!
    Take care.

  2. Thanks, Reva, for sharing those painful memories --- I know how difficult it can be to dredge up the memories of those first few weeks and months. And, you're right that pain subsides, but never completely disappears. My mother tells a story of my great-grandmother still crying over the loss of her first baby (at 13 mos) 80 years after it happened. Once a mother, always a mother.

    I'm glad to hear that some time down the road, I may be able to catch a few ZZZ's, too! I hope you're getting some PEACEFUL rest these days!