|Can you read this? Unfortunately, it's true for me tonight.|
I had a rough time with the sleep deprivation that comes with small babies. Our kids slept through the night fairly quickly (around four or five months it was pretty consistent), but those of you with kids know that even good sleepers are easily disrupted by things like illness, feeding routine changes and potty training--and they don't necessarily wake up at the reasonable morning hour you want them to. So even when we weren't feeding infants in the night any more, the sleep wasn't great--not for someone like me, who really needs eight uninterrupted hours a night under normal circumstances and when running a lot does best with nine or ten.
It made me into a bit of an insomniac. Up until last summer, if one of the kids woke for a bathroom trip or a nightmare or a wet bed, it often meant the end of my night's sleep, no matter what time it was. I'd lie awake staring at the ceiling, wondering if and when they'd emerge to wake me up again. This happened several times a week, more nights than it didn't happen. It's a big reason I didn't consider training for a marathon at all until last year. I just didn't think I could get the sleep I needed to support the training.
Happily, the training seems to have helped take care of the sleep issue to a certain extent. Since upping my miles, I sleep more deeply, so that even when one or both of the kids wake me, I go back to sleep fast and stay that way most of the time. When a daytime nap is possible, I find myself falling asleep easily then, too, and waking refreshed.
But it's still not perfect, as tonight illustrates. Will, my son, startled me awake from a deep sleep right at midnight. I took him to the bathroom. An hour later (and I hadn't fallen asleep again this time), he was back. I took him back to bed again. And that was it. I've been awake ever since. As I type, it's 4:17 a.m. I moved to the couch about an hour ago, afraid I was going to wake Dan, resulting in two grumpy adults tomorrow. My plan is to wait until 5:30, when my alarm was due to go off anyway, get my six miles in and then go back to bed until I'm due at work at noon. Tuesdays are my night shift, so I'll be there until 9 p.m. There will be no chance for running or napping in the afternoon.
It's bleak. Outside, a cold front is moving in. I can hear the leaves skittering on the porch and in the street, and the wind is whistling eerily at the corners of the windows. I know my run will make me feel at least temporarily better, but I won't feel safe going out until it's a bit closer to dawn (even at 5:30 around here there are people headed out to work, so I'm not alone out there in the dark).
Now I know to some of you I am a big ol' wimp. I'm not nursing a baby, and I don't have special needs kids (bed-wetters who soak through pull-ups don't count as "special needs") or an unhelpful husband (Dan handles as many night wakings as I do; he just doesn't have the same issue I do with returning to sleep after them). But regardless, I'm sick of this. Yes, it's been better than it was. But any insomnia is too much insomnia. I'm ready for it to be over for good. Maybe this is melodramatic, but I'm afraid if it goes on much longer it will be a problem I'll never shake.
Perhaps we haven't disciplined our kids properly--shouldn't almost-five-year-olds be capable of going to the bathroom in the night without waking their parents? If anyone out there has any advice on how to get that ball rolling, I'm all ears and bloodshot eyes. I am not a sentimental parent, especially when it comes to sleep. I remember as a kid myself being very respectful of my parents' sleep. I never woke them, unless I had thrown up or had a fever. What I don't remember is how they got me to be that way!
Update: It's 7:15 and I just returned from a 6-mile progression run. One kid is up--everyone else is still asleep. And you know what? I feel awesome! The weather was amazing--cool breezes, and everywhere the golden leaves, the yellow and red ones, wafting down on me in the glow of the streetlamps and later the rising sun. Walking down the sidewalk at the end, I felt like I was in some musical on stage. I know I'll be tired later, but this is the magic of running. I now feel good about this day.