Thursday, November 10, 2011

Why Don't You Just Sleep On It?

Hello and happy Thursday to everyone.  No, it isn't Miss Pretty writing, 'tis merely TPP, known as The Preppy Princess in some quarters. I do love sharing a monogram with her though, at those times  when she is acting in her capacity as Supreme Ruler of The Pretty Planet. (Get it, another TPP?! Too exciting.)

That moment of elation one experiences right after telling a friend you will help out? Yes, I enjoyed that right after saying I would be happy to post for Miss Pretty, it was bliss. For about a nano-second. Immediate panic is what I recall, what in heavens name could I write about that might be even remotely Pretty or Witty? Nothing came to mind. 

But then I remembered a story I had seen last week on women and sleep (more accurately, the lack thereof) and said, "Aha, let's write about this!" The story was in last Friday's New York Times, it had a catchy title: "Sleep Medication: Mother’s New Little Helper". Hunh?

As TPP readers are painfully aware, we are not blessed with children of the human kind, allow me to force them upon introduce you to our furry family members. After years of careful observation I can assert without equivocation sleep is not an issue for either of them.
In particular, Tubby Silly Tilly has shown no difficulties in this area.
But back to our primary topic, something that is a very real issue for an enormous number of women: insomnia. So many of our friends have become mothers in the last two years I pay attention to this sort of thing now, having learned long ago the images portrayed in those darling melt-your-heart-pictures of mother and child (you know the ones, the mother looking like she has just emerged from a week at the Greenbrier, the wee one resembling a cherub from a Michelangelo ceiling) are the exception, not the rule.

The Times piece was filled with fascinating information about women and sleep, particularly on the topic of mothers. Here is what really caught my attention:
"One of the cruel jokes of motherhood is that the sleeplessness of pregnancy, followed by the sleeplessness generated by an infant (a period in which a staggering — truly — 84 percent of women experience insomnia), is not followed by a makeup period of rest. It is merely the setup for what can become a permanent modus operandi."
Yikes. Upon learning some of the realities about newborns and infants and the concurrent sleep challenges (there's a euphemism), I have ached for their mothers.  In most cases the husband has been extremely helpful but the hard truth remained, the mother was the one who suffered most. Friends with children now in their teens and beyond have also talked about struggles with sleeping in a way that transcends, or at least differs from temporary insomnia. More on this from the Times story:
They also do not take into account the many women who have no trouble passing out at 10 p.m. — but zing wide awake at 3:30 a.m. with thoughts like those of Anne Kimball, 46, a mother in Oxford, Pa., as she runs “down the menu, from kid to kid”: “Did I send in the permission slip by deadline? Should I chaperone the field trip? Am I green enough?”

Or those of Susan Stoga, a mother of two in Barrington, Ill.: “Did I send that e-mail to my client? Is the permission slip for pictures due today? Do Carrie’s dance shoes still fit? Is Girl Scouts on this week?”

For years I have had marveled at my own upbringing (along with my three brothers) and pondered a point of immense curiosity about our mother, "How did she do it? How in heaven's name did she do it and stay sane?" And then I think of all the incredible women like Miss Pretty, and so many of you reading this; I am forced to ask the same question: how do you do it?

When you have slept perhaps a few hours over the course of several days, how do you keep picking up one foot and managing to place it in front of the other?  Let alone while burping one child over one shoulder and feeding another its sippy cup while in the checkout lane at the grocery store? One friend described the level of exhaustion this way: "It felt like there were nails in my eyes."

With never-ending awe at your capacity to function, I would love to know how. you. do. it.  Prayer seems like something anyone would need, but what are the other coping mechanisms? Please don't be shy if not a mother, either, I need all the insight I can glean.

Thank you for indulging a most un-Pretty issue, clearly we have no shame when it comes to guest posting.  


Ashley Paige said...

Coping mechanisms? I think many mothers will chime in at the ready on this one... Wine. And lots of it. And on particularly trying days/sleepless nights? Vodka. I wasn't kidding in my IPP guest post :oP Truly though- it is a sheer feat of nature to subsist on so little sleep. Remarkable, really.

LPC said...

Oh those years of sleep deprivation were almost psychotic. I remember waking up one morning, when my son had been sleeping through the night for about 6 weeks, and thinking "Oh my god! I forgot that I am a cheerful person by nature!"

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