Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sleep Deprivation and Grace

Three years ago, I sat on the same faded green couch I am sitting on now. My sweet little bundle of joy (Jayci) was nestled in one bouncing arm while I desperately pecked out Google searches with the other hand. I was determined to figure out what I was missing. Surely every other momma out there knew the secret: getting their baby to sleep. And more, getting them to sleep IN THEIR CRIB rather than exclusively in exhausted arms. Certainty filled me: there was definitely some sort of mom-club that everyone else had been invited to, and I was missing out on. I had a vague idea that the club involved sleep-training and baby-wearing, but I wasn't quite sure how to join or really what either of those things even meant. I googled "how to get your baby to sleep in her crib," and subsequently spent hours pouring over blogs and website providing a confusing spiderweb of answers. Moms who assured me with photos and words that one should definitely be able to clean and cook and entertain and write beautifully with a newborn, who should be sleeping through the night by eight weeks old anyhow . . . .  or else sleeping in your bed in co-sleeping-breast-feeding-newborn-bliss. I was confused, sleep-deprived, self-loathing, and desperate.

Three years later I sit on the green couch and tug at a stubborn zipper on a slip-covered pillow that haven't been washed in who-knows-how-long.  Jayci is yelling at me from her "rest-time" that she wants to come out, which is causing Caden to stir angrily in my arms. He has already, after-all, been asleep for nearly fifteen minutes, which is clearly long enough. I sigh loudly. I'm having one of those days again. The kind when Adam is out chopping wood (literally) for who-knows-what, and the three-year old is in rare form, and the six month old who hasn't slept in six months continues to not-sleep. And I am daydreaming about running away to the nearest hotel where I will collapse in blissful sleep.

A few nights ago, Caden only woke up ONE time all night and I was nearly giddy with the excitement and prospects of what lay ahead. Clearly, before long they would BOTH be sleeping all night! And also napping simultaneously! And I would do laundry and NOT forget to put it in the dryer! And then I would fold it and put it away that same day rather than waiting for weeks! And the dishes wouldn't stack up! And the kiddos would always be polite and respectful and never steal things from us!

But things don't always go as planned, and the last three nights Caden has woken up at least once an hour all-night-long. I realize we've developed some bad-sleep-habits with our sweet little guy (mostly because of his health stuff), but I dont have the energy or stamina at 3am to risk him waking Jayci up by letting him cry even for a few minutes. Besides, who can remember in the constant fog of sleep-deprivation whose turn it is to get up with the baby and how long it's been since he last ate? My only thought is of the quickest route back into my bed.

And so I am still confused. And sleep-deprived. And definitely desperate.

I am, however, a whole lot less self-loathing about the whole thing. Because if I've learned anything in the past three years it is this: there is no mom-club. Or if there is, it's merely the triumphant joining of mothers who have realized that there is no formula, no secret. Only babies who like to sleep and babies who don't. Only moms who breast-feed and those who give formula. Those who cry-it-out and others who co-sleep. Moms who have realized that over every single one of us is a God who lavishes grace. A Father who stands in the gap when my patience wears thin with all-the-tantrums and the lack of sleep. Who offers me hope and fresh starts each morning. Because maybe today will be the day that my sweet-miracle-baby finally lets me sleep for eight uninterrupted hours. Or at least three. And if not? Well I have the blessed assurance that He will sustain me through the weariness. That just as surely as He carried me while Caden was in the hospital, He will carry me now, through the mundane days and sleepless nights.

So for all those moms who are struggling to find their way, who are certain that everyone else has it together and has everything figured out. Let me assure you: we don't. Even right this minute, I can barely keep my eyes open wide enough to remind Jayci not to jump off the couch and to ask her to take the marker away that Caden has somehow got his hands on. I am praying for all of you today (and for myself) that we will get some sleep. And that even if we don't, we will find REST and refreshment in the arms of a loving Father who extends grace in my shortcomings, and reminds me that it is those very shortcomings that will point my children to Him.


  1. Thank you. I needed to read this today.

  2. I agree. Glad to know I am not the only one who didn't get invited to join the have-it-all-together mom club!

  3. {{{HUG}}} First off let me say that if there is a club I never found it either. After two kids I have come to the understanding that ALL kids are different and parenting them has to be handled differently too. One might sleep and the other one might not. Our first born we put him in a crib in his room and we all remained sleep deprived for the first two years of his life due to horrendous ear infections that never allowed him to sleep. Then our second born had huge medical problems that required tube feeding ALL NIGHT LONG and WE never slept...but he did, like the little angle that he is. We had him sleep in a crib in our room and then moved him to a toddler bed in our room and eventually he started bunking with us....and now I find myself sleeping in his bed with him in his room. Some think I am nuts but hey....whatever it takes to get some sleep that's what you need to do. It will eventually all come together. Our nine year old sleeps perfectly fine in his room all by himself. He is comfortable doing so now and I know that one day Logan will be fine doing the same. Don't stress too much about it. Some of the best moms that I know don't have it all together either.

  4. okay usually i wait to read your blog until it comes in email format but i saw that you updated and here i am...PLEASE leave me with the kiddos after Jayci's school one day and you can SLEEP until after dinner. For real.

  5. Love you, girl. I think you're awesome. Especially when you're not. Hugs!! Praying for some sweet rest for you today.

  6. Thank you for your honesty. I'm sorry to hear it's been so hard for you!! Will be praying over the next few weeks!!!

  7. Definitely praying for sleep for your entire household. I've been in this club - looking for the sleeping babies club. I've been lucky that my baby has slept 8 hour stretches the past two nights. It's exhausting (and I'm not counting on him sleeping through tonight, just because it doesn't happen often.)

    Just know that you're doing a great job. And the sleep will happen one day! (Hopefully sooner, rather than later.)

  8. Great post. I believe to MY VERY CORE that our heart babies are not good sleepers because of all the stuff they went through. I can't get my daughter to take good naps during the day. Last week, I was SO TIRED. I was laying in bed in the morning, wishing for naptime already. I paid a babysitter to come over and play with the girls for 3 hours while I napped. bliss.

  9. I read this the day you posted and sat and cried because you took every thought in my head and put it here. So many days I think that the every day life and sleepless nights are harder than the days that Ryder was in the hospital. Sounds crazy, but so true. I sit and wonder "what in the heck did I do wrong?! why do MY kids not sleep and everyone else's do?! whyyy me?!" I can't wait for the day I can say "go get in the bed with your sister!" haha!!! You are such an encouragement to me!

  10. I don't even know how I stumbled across your blog this morning, but I know that God wanted me to read this entry at this time. It's just been one of those weeks! And part of the difficulty is (even with #3 now), somehow thinking that everyone else has it figured out, which then brings on the self-loathing!
    So, thanks for opting for the sleep deprived truth over perhaps a moment of glamour that would have me despairing even more! Today is a good day! :)

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  12. I can't tell you how many times I have washed a load of laundry and then forgotten to put it in the dryer - too many to count. Your honesty is refreshing!


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