Sleep-Deprived Rhino

Monday, February 1, 2016

[Fair warning.  It'll seem like I'm complaining a lot in this post.  It's because I am.]


We've all read those news stories of people who go on drug rages.  They're clearly out of their minds, totally not themselves, and destructive like an uncontrollable rhino.


That's me on little sleep.

This is with heavy-duty concealer under my eyes.  
Like most adults, I'm sleep deprived.  However, I've been very, VERY sleep deprived for over a year.  The last six months of my pregnancy, I woke up throughout the night, each night, to charlie horses.  Don't know what those are?  Imagine waking up to the tips of your toes curling back in the wrong direction, your entire shin taunt and cramping.  (Or thighs.  Or calves.)  The only thing that make it stop is jumping out of bed and stretching various ways to release the muscle spasms.  The last three month of pregnancy, in particular, it would happen at least hourly all night long.  They are pretty hellish, but they stop the very day I deliver.

But then, of course, we have a newborn.  And newborns don't "sleep like a baby."


My kids have never been good sleepers.  I am now prepared for this and can deal with knowing my babies won't sleep through the night until 9 or 10 months in.  But what is grossly unfair is that while I am getting up with a baby three or more times a night, we still have our two older kids who have to repeatedly be sleep-trained.  Please tell me we aren't the only ones!

All things considered, I haven't had more than three-four hours of consecutive sleep in at least a year.


I have a very good husband, and we made the deal that I would get up with the baby (who breastfeeds) and Brad would get up with the older two (who share a room).  

The trouble is, the older two wake me up anyway.  The second I hear so much as a whimper in their sleep, my eyes snap open.  Even if my husband gets to the kids right away, I'm lying wide awake in my bed listening to everything that's happening.  No matter who gets up, my brain decides to stay awake for a while.

The last two weeks, Baby D finally started waking up only once or twice a night.  So of course, I had insomnia for two weeks straight and didn't go to bed until 2-3 AM.  My theory is my brain only has time to think when it's time for sleeping.  


It was Friday, the tail end of that two-week bout of not going to bed until 2 or 3.  I finally got to bed at a reasonable hour, falling asleep around midnight without too much insomnia to speak of (yay!).  12:30 AM, and I heard my daughter coughing off and on.  I went in to her room to get her some water and settled her back down.  

Just as I got comfy back in bed, I heard the baby.  He had been sick the night before (up from 3-4:30, struggling to breathe--WHY DO GERMS EXIST?!) and I wanted to ensure he was doing better.  I nursed him and he went back to sleep easily.  I crawled back in bed, my thoughts drifting between dreamland and reality. 

My eyes snap open! 1:30 AM. 4-year old coughing again.  Another water routine.  Back to bed.

1:45 AM. 2-year old crying.  It was the "nightmare cry," so I ran in, trying to get to him before he woke up his sister sleeping above him in the bunk bed.  He took a bit of reassuring, water, and a song, but he went back down.  My mind began to drift again.

2:15 AM. 4-year old was coughing again.  Water and some cough medicine delivered. 

2:30 AM.  4-year old, "I want to go to the bathroom!  I want to go to the bathroom!"  (Yeah, she still wears a diaper at night.)  This time, I poked Brad who moved in slow motion, still in such a deep sleep that he couldn't quite get his head up off the pillow and he spoke intelligibly.  I bolted down the hall, praying the 2-year old still kept sleeping.  My daughter couldn't be convinced to just go potty in her diaper, but my poor judgment won out and I refused to haul her out of bed.  Instead I went back down the hall to the baby who was now up from me thumping down the hallway.

2:45 AM.  I was feeding the baby, CJ was crying hysterically down the hall, and R was now up too.  Brad's shadow appeared in the doorway.  "Oh, I thought you were in there!  Sorry."  I practically shrieked back, "I've already been in there four or five times!  I can't do this anymore.  I can't!"  The poor guy could see the fire in my eyes, hear the near-hysterical voice.  He quickly got CJ to the bathroom right away.  Then the 2-year old also wanted to use the bathroom.  (Yeah, he's not potty trained.)   But Brad helped him do it anyway while I finished up with the baby and got back in bed, fuming.

3:00 AM.  I was the raging rhino.  Instead of sleeping, different scenarios were flying through my mind, some of which included:

 * Going into the kitchen and smashing every plate we own as hard as I could against the floor.
 * Taking the three loads of laundry Brad had folded the night before.  Turning them all upside down and pitching the clothes all over the family room.
 * Running out into the night and screaming all over my neighborhood.

3:30 AM.  I am still seriously considering all these scenarios and more, when I heard the 4-year old again asking to go to the bathroom.  I had a Mommy-tantrum all down the hallway, and whisper-yelled, "GO IN YOUR DIAPER!" followed by a thunderous stomp back to bed.  Yes, it was unsuccessful.   Brad knew I was then about a chin-hair away from a legitimate nervous breakdown, so he again went back in to handle CJ.  And then R.

3:45 AM.  I was still quivering with anger in my bed, muttering under my breath.  My head was pounding so when Brad returned, I asked him to grab me some medicine.

4:15 AM.  Baby D was up again, this time he clearly was not breathing quite well enough.  I brought him to our bed and propped him up on my pillow, so he could breathe better.  I also positioned myself right next to his face so I could feel his every breath, because I was officially a crazy person and convinced he would die in his sleep otherwise.  

4:30-5:00 AM.  Baby D repeatedly patted my face and unintentionally scratched me over and over again.  I halfway loved it and was still over-my-head upset that I was not sleeping yet.  I turn off my alarm set for a 6 AM gym workout.

8:00 AM.  We woke up to the sounds of our kids stirring in the next room.  It was a miracle!  Three solid hours under my belt!  I felt like a different person.  I turned to Brad, marveling that the kids didn't wake up at their usual 7:15 to their light-up clock.  Brad admitted he had taken the clock out of the room during his last visit.  I had never loved him more.

Later that morning, I sheepishly apologized, "Sorry I almost had a nervous breakdown last night!"  Brad responded that he was just happy I hadn't "Zach Braffed it."  In response to my quizzical stare, Brad showed me this video, and we laughed for almost five minutes:





I don't really have a way to end this post, but suggestions are definitely welcome on how to get us all some more sleep!  I'm feeling very close to hiring a babysitter for an afternoon, getting a hotel room, and sleeping just a few blissful hours...

28 comments:

  1. Hang in there!! That clip was awesome. Hotel room is a great idea assuming you could sleep there instead of stressing about how the kids are doing with the sitter!

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    1. Totally! And that clip has me still laughing days later.

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  2. Okay, I am about to give you some very profound life changing sleep advice.......all you have to do is............
    survive. Sounds like you are doing a fine job. We all get a little crazy now and then. Heaven knows I have had much crazier thoughts than unfolding my husband's laundry! Haha! I wish I had an answer. I never sleep through the night. Someone always has a bad dream, leg cramps, sick, needs to go potty, peed thought their diaper, wants a second dinner at 2 a.m. you know the drill. Good news is, they will eventually sleep through the night.

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    1. Survive! I can do that, right?! Right?!

      I love how your kids have requested a second dinner, that's hilarious! (For me, not for you.) Some people are saying it gets better, but you're saying otherwise! Ugh!

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    2. Haha! It does get better! It just takes about 10 years 😄

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  3. Oh Monica, I love you.

    Years ago I was babysitting for a YW leader and she left to go run errands. Her first errand was picking up something up at a friends house... but she was so exhausted that she ended up falling asleep on her friend’s couch and sleeping the afternoon away! (And as a babysitter, I was thrilled to give her something she needed so desperately!) I vote yes - grab a sitter and go get any nap you can.

    You are in the thick of a painfully exhausting stage - but you are also doing so much better than you give yourself credit for. xoxo

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    1. That is the best story! Poor lady. I bet her friend was like, "Um.... So, you were saying?"

      Thanks for being such a good friend!

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  4. So long story short, my oldest Mae had a sleep disorder and literally would wake up several times a night screaming. So what helped us? I read every book and obeyed every rule, but we finally have in and moved her toddler bed in our room. Then we'd just roll over and calm her down and never have to get out of bed. No drinks at night. Period. No reasons to get out of bed except to calm them. That might not be the answer you want but it finally helped my 4 year old sleep better and is not play Jack in the box all night. The baby on the other hand, hopefully that will come with time.

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    1. sleeping disorder? That sounds CRAZY! I bet you were going legit crazy before you finally figured that one out. Who cares that you have a kid sleeping in your room if you can get some sleep, right?! Hearing about your situation makes me realize I don't have it that bad... I"m sure that doesn't make you feel better, ha!

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    2. Ok seriously I was going crazy! And I do think waking up that many times at night is also bad. Bad and worse is altogether still not good right 😜 Anyway, when Beau was born, waking up with a newborn and her several times a night threw me into a bad place. So in came the toddler bed. But really, if one of your older ones needs to sleeping your floor for a bit, don't feel bad like I did. Disobey the sleep rules and embrace sanity!

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    3. I keep making grammatical errors from spell check or something??? Actually it's probably just sleep deprivation 😜 ignore my many mistakes

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  5. Monica- thanks for being real! I too have felt the sleep deprived rhino instincts at times. One thing that helps my kids is a sound machine in their rooms. I have one in our 2 yr olds room and will start one in the baby's room too once she starts being a little more aware. Our 4 yr old has grown out of it, but he used to have one too. I think it helps drown out at least some of the noises from the siblings and me trying to secretly sneak out of their rooms :) hang in there! your kids are lucky to have you.

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    1. I forgot to mention, but we totally have a loud humidifier in their room. I don't know why, but my kids are light sleepers in spite of everything. Ugh! I'll keep trucking along there though, like all the other parents out there, right?

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  6. I feel your pain! I do not function well on little sleep. I had a night like that... My baby girl would wake up every 1-2 hours and needed to be bounced/rocked/coaxed back to sleep. Only to cry the minute I put her back in her crib. I was angrily rocking her (don't worry, I wasn't shaking her) but I was being less than gentle. My husband must have known my frustration because he came in just as the tears started to stream down my face and he took the baby and rocked her until she calmed down and went to sleep. I felt so terrible for being so angry at my baby. Then of course I'm to upset to sleep anyway! And our 3 year old that used to sleep great is starting to wake up multiple times a night and coming into our bed! It is so hard to have patience and love when you are sleep deprived. I don't even have any advice. We did start a sticker chart for Henry and he gets a sticker in the morning if he stays in his own bed all night. Then after getting a bunch of stickers we will get a treat or something. 3 nights in and it seems to be working. Except he did get out of bed to go potty, but went back to bed after. Normally he would be in our bed. I can't help with the baby though. I'm not good at sleep training. But one thing that did help a little was putting her in a sleep sack so she wouldn't startle herself awake. Good luck! Thanks for sharing this post and being so honest! I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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    1. Husbands save the day! You are definitely not the first to do the angry rock. It's so hard! WE've done a sticker chart for my kids as well, but I kind of forgot about that! I'll definitely get the going again. Sleep training is not for sissies, right? Love you for commenting!

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  7. You asked for advice, or else I wouldn't give it. :) For the 4-year-old, try some overnight pull-ups. They are definitely more expensive than diapers, but she can wear them again the next night if she didn't pee in them. This will allow her to get up to go potty on her own if she wakes up in the night. Nobody will need to re-fasten her diaper. You may also need a nightlight in the hall or bathroom or whatever so she can go on her own. You decide what's best.

    Also, sippy cups with a little water right by their beds, so they can get their own drinks if they wake up in the night. I don't give too much water (maybe 1/2 cup) - just enough so they can have a sip if they fell parched. I frequently wake up and drink from my water bottle in the night, so I'm sympathetic to kids who get thirsty.

    Also, I second the sound machine for the baby. I've also found with my baby that I can let her cry for a few minutes to see if she'll settle down on her own. Sometimes she does. (I've also done the cry-it-out method with my older two, and it was hard, but it worked. I'm not ready to do that with my baby yet.) I'm not talking about raging hard crying, just enough for her to be saying, "I'm sad, I'm alone! Oh, here's my hand, this is nice. I'm still kind of sad! But... I do have my hand. Okay, good night." (This is the dialog I imagine when I'm listening through the baby monitor.) For me, it isn't about the length of time she cries, but the strength of her cry. If she's really upset, I go to her. If she's not crying too hard, I let her work it out.

    One last thing. My husband cheats most nights, and re-sets our boys' clock so it shows about 30 minutes earlier than it is. I always act puzzled when my 5-year-old says his clock doesn't match every other clock in the house. But it keeps them in bed until "7" which is probably more like 7:30 or so for us.

    Otherwise, hang in there. And I've definitely been a rhino mom in the middle of the night.

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    1. I love your advice! Sadly though, we're already doing the sappy cups and sound machines... I think it's our tiny house with creaky wood floors. Everything makes sounds and echoes! I have been a cheapskate about getting pull-ups though, so it sounds like I need to just do it. I love your dialogue for your baby! I'm definitely not against sleep-training and do it just like you--some crying but not CRYING!!!! When my baby is sick though, I'll run into their room the second they make a sound. I love you Sherry!

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  8. I'm 2 days into doing this newborn thing on my own.... although my baby girl is doing really well I still feel that frustration of I just want to be asleep, could you please eat faster!!! My only sanity has been to pull up a conference talk and read it while I nurse in hopes that it will take my mind off the minutes slowly ticking away. Who knows how long I'll be able to keep it up, but it has been very calming.

    That said, I can't imagine doing the all nighter plus having 2 other kids. I'll be grateful I'm just dealing with the one for now.

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    1. OK, I love that! Especially when I'm struggling to go back to sleep, that is the thing to do. (Mostly because it'll likely get me back to sleep quicker than getting all angry...) Love you, Ash!

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  9. I'm 2 days into doing this newborn thing on my own.... although my baby girl is doing really well I still feel that frustration of I just want to be asleep, could you please eat faster!!! My only sanity has been to pull up a conference talk and read it while I nurse in hopes that it will take my mind off the minutes slowly ticking away. Who knows how long I'll be able to keep it up, but it has been very calming.

    That said, I can't imagine doing the all nighter plus having 2 other kids. I'll be grateful I'm just dealing with the one for now.

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  10. Monica, hang in there. I wish I lived closer to help you. It gets better.having three under three, sharing a bedroom, it's overwhelming. I love you. you can do this.

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    1. Love you, Mandy! Thanks for your support.

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  11. I feel your pain! My 13 month old is a horrible sleeper and I too haven't gotten more than 4 hours straight since she was born. I don't have the other two so I can only imagine. But I am only a few houses away if you ever want to come over and commiserate about our sleep deprivation. Hang in there, you're a mama warrior and this too shall pass!

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    1. Oh Molliee, it's so tough! I hope you're doing alright. Mama warriors unite!

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    1. Oh, Lisa! You know allllll about this with your kiddos.

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  13. Not much advice, mostly just sympathy. My life-saver is the Ok-to-wake Toddler Clocks. It took a few nights to train them on it, though. And they were still in their cribs when I trained them which made it easier. Although if they're older, you could bribe them. ;) That clock works 95% of the time. But for that 5% when we just have a bad night (we had one of those last week), I clear our schedules for the day and declare it a movie and pajama day! Because sleep deprivation and I don't mix. I remember Grace from Camp Patton replied to one of my comments saying that sleep deprivation didn't affect her much and I was like. *wide eyes and slow blink*, "WHHHAAAAT?!?" I didn't know that was physically possible. But it made me feel less guilty for not being on the "new baby every year" plan.

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    1. Ha, we totally have that clock! It definitely helped for a few weeks, but R has his own plans every night at 3. He does this crazy "is he awake or sleeping?" tantrum. Like, demonic. Still, it is getting better and the clock is helping! I actually changed their wake time up tomorrow morning since they skipped naps AND went to bed late... Fingers crossed! And people who say that sleep deprivation doesn't affect them... WHAT ON EARTH?!

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