Thursday, May 22, 2008

Sleep is Awesome

It's amazing what a decent night's sleep can do for a person.  I feel brand spanking new, people!  It was entirely unexpected though, as the little one had a rough start to the night.  She wasn't feeling so well in the evening, her ear was hurting again, and her cough was downright croupy.  When she gets that tight, spastic cough my heart fills with fear, for her father had asthma as a child and I am so worried that she will develop it as well.  When she was 18 months old the doctor thought she had RSV, and sent us home with an inhaler.  We only had to use it twice, but it was scary nonetheless.  

Last night she had been asleep just 15 minutes when the she woke up choking and sputtering.  My hubby ordered me to get her calm immediately (because she won't accept comfort from him), reminding me that she would throw up if I couldn't get her settled down (we know this from her past history with such coughing, and from his many years of fighting his own coughing spells).  So I did, but that involved actually removing the child from bed, which of course woke her up altogether.  This is a BAD THING!  

But did we let her get up?  No way.  There is a rule that is absolute in this house, and that is that when it's bedtime, it is bedtime, and no matter how long it takes, the child must go back to sleep! Lucky for us, this has worked without fail.  Sometimes it takes awhile. An agonizingly long while. So long that you're certain it would be easier to let her stay up.  But she did finally fall asleep last night, albeit in our bed (so much for our recent success in getting her to fall asleep, on her own, in her room).  

The coughing continued off & on for the next hour, but didn't wake her, so we were able to scarf down our dinner. (Steak!  For the first time in ages!  Because I'm so desperate for a hunk of beef that I'm finally willing to eat something other than filet, which is just too damned expensive in this culinary wasteland.)  When she did wake up next I was able to give her the next dose of medicine, though in the end it took a steam bath to relax her enough to really sleep.  (Why didn't I use a humidifier, an experienced parent might ask?  Because ours became infested with mold & mildew and could not be adequately cleaned so I had to toss it.  We are living in the mold capital of the world, and I kid you not, toilets and sinks show mold -- in a house built in 2001, mind you -- within about 10 days if not cleaned & sterilized!)

The thing about the nights we've had this week is this: every time she gets sick, I panic.  Not only because I worry that it might be something awful, but because each time I am filled with dread that LIFE WILL NEVER RETURN TO NORMAL AGAIN.  I become instantly convinced that this is just how it will be, forever and ever, and I begin to panic.  I lose all perspective and capacity to recall the many times she has recovered (usually within a few days).  I have to repeatedly talk myself down from the ledge of desperation, repeating, "this will pass, she will recover, life will be normal again."  It is one of my major weaknesses.  

I'm great in a crisis, I can remain calm and take action and get things under control. I have held her hand on the examination table at the emergency room at the children's hospital, singing to her while they poked and prodded and tried to figure out what was going on.  My husband freaks out in that sort of situation, overcome with worry.  I stay busy with the job at hand.  But give me a few bad nights of sleep when she just can't rest and neither can I, and I begin to fold.  In the face of a chronic situation of chaos, I begin to really lose it.  

Last night the heavens were good to me.  All that mattered was that she was okay.  But she clearly was, so I had the hubris to ask for two more things:  for a peaceful dinner and a good night's rest for both of us. (I say both and not all because my husband tends to sleep through most of the overnight stuff anyway, as I've explained
before, so there was no need to pray for his rest, as it was a foregone conclusion.  This is patently unfair, but it is what works, and I made peace with it long ago.  Though if we have another baby, all bets are off.)  And I was granted these wishes, which I realize are petty but were genuine gifts to me after days of sleep deprivation.  

The even better news is that the little one slept great after her steam bath and didn't wake until 7:30 (which is amazing for my little early bird who has shown no ability whatsoever to sleep in), and has been in just the best mood all morning, singing and dancing and dressing up and now watching Cinderella actively (by which I mean acting it all out with her stuffed animals and dolls as she watches).  And that is the best gift of all.  

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