Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sleep is Overrated

I explained the lull one way in November. I explain it another way now. My PC is croaking a very drawn out death of natural causes - age combined with obesity. I cannot make myself delete photos or videos with my sweet girls in them. OK, even my attempts at being arty remain - the flower petals, grains of sand, tomatoes from our garden. All there, bloating my hard drive, compromising "circulation."

So an external hard drive and a more agile laptop are on their way, which I hope will mean a return to frequency here.

In the meantime, sleep is again/still elusive here. Winter break shook things up and just when they started to settle, it was time for alarms and morning routines again. As absolutely beside herself Addie was to get back to her beloved school, she's sleeping less than when the semester ended.

Addie continues to wake up frequently during the night and very vigorously rock in her bed. Cate is the only one that sleeps through it and lately even she has been disturbed.

To add to that, these last few days when we thought she'd be exhausted after restarting school, therapy and swim, she has utterly forsaken her nap. Rocks, plays, jabbers in her bed - anything but sleep. I know, I know. With a typical kid, you'd say she'd outgrown her nap. But since there is precious little sleep at night, this is not the case for her. After a napless Monday afternoon, she fell asleep 20 minutes before we needed to head to adaptive swim class. And today, after getting all her outer gear on as she was waiting for the go ahead to line up, she zonked at school for the first time. Just passed out on her proprietary purple carpet square.

She stayed asleep in her aide's arms while I ran her backpack and communication device to the car and moved the car closer to prepare for the carrying of nearly 40lbs of snoring dead weight over snow covered ice. She continued to saw logs of notable diameter until I put her in her car seat. With how big/long she has become, along with the layer of ice that has covered our suburb for a week, I have to sort of toss her into her seat to ensure her legs are not tangled with mine and that I don't take too much weight into my back and topple. That woke her up. She was absolutely thrilled to be in her K4 room one minute and in her own spot in the car the next, seemingly.

We followed our after school routine: she played in the backyard for a bit (read: ate all the snow she possibly could) while I made her lunch. She came in, ate and then watched Jack's Big Music Show to wind down before a sleep.

Through lunch, I debated whether to just skip nap, but my fear is the involuntary pass out around dinner time and how that might have a ripple affect at night. The girl needs sleep to function and she's just not getting it. So I decided to give it a whirl. If nothing else, I could get a few things done.

Addie now sleeps in a toddler bed with a removable rail on one side, the wall on the other. She has taken the liberty of removing the rail herself a few times (found her downstairs at 3am one night), but we have since rigged different ways of preventing that. Still, she'll sit crosswise on her bed, specific blanket wrapped over head and shoulders, and rock with her back against the rail. Upon impact the rail gives a bit with a thud and then audibly snaps back once she's on the forward part of the rock. There is no mistaking the sound or her particular rapid fire.

Often I go up, remove the blanket, lay her back down and cover her up; "reset" her, if you will. This usually makes no difference at all, as leaving her to continue rarely leads to saturation with it - she could go for hours. We have tried the gamut of strategies, but the girl has a will of her own. If she wants to do it, she will indeed do it, our interruptions never affecting her patience or concentration.

After laying her down and singing/signing our song this afternoon, I busied myself with details that are tricky to focus on when she is near. My plan was to give her (really give ME) 45 minutes up there and hope she'd fall asleep within enough time to nab some productive z's before I have to wake her to go get her sister from school. Within 6 minutes of kissing her cheek and coming downstairs, it started.

This sound of her rocking is a very familiar, very frustrating sound to us all. It initiates irritation and worry at once. It tells us that she is not sleeping and neither will we (at night). It drives us to forecast the 24 hour implications: will Addie make it through the day, will she nap tomorrow, will she be able to participate at school, will this undercut her immune system and her awareness, what will it do to her already compromised motor planning, sensory processing and balance...then, will I get enough sleep, will my nerves be shot to the point of childlike crankiness?

In short, it is not a happy sound.

Today, I heard it a different way.

THUMP-thump. THUMP-thump. THUMP-thump. THUMP-thump.

The second I tuned in, I did not sigh with exasperation as is my reflex. Instead, I was abruptly sent back to 2 separate moments in time, one before Addie was born and one after. Different days that centered around the same rhythm I was hearing from upstairs. Daydreams, hope and promise culminated in the moments anticipating this cadence back then. Despair and cold, bitter loss followed the silence that filled the gap in place of the pattern of sound I expected. These slippery pits of silence took place in my ob-gyn's office. I remember looking up to the doctor's honed and professional look of sympathy as the fruitless stethoscope dangled, an expression that also asked a question: is that enough for you, or do I need to put official words to what you probably already know. This baby did not make it. There is nothing for you to hear.

Holding a wet, soapy dish in my hand today as I listened, I let this brief brush with heartache move out of the way quickly. Those recalled life or death moments were just utilitarian this time, not to be dwelt upon. They had to be called up to lend context to the message I was meant to get. For a girl that cannot speak, Addie is incessantly talking to me. Her wordless message this time:

I am here, mom. I did make it. You hear me? Hear this heart beat? Bear witness to me, mom, to my vibrancy, to my verve. I am with you.

I am.

Nap is cancelled until further notice. In that time slot shall be dance parties, finger painting, snow feasts, sing/sign alongs, lounging, living. Listening to our hearts beat.


Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

Oh I love it when you write....Yes, she did make it, she is here!
We all do need our sleep, I hope its coming to your house soon, and becomes consistant. Until then, the heart beat you hear will keep reminding you of who is there with you:)

Cindy said...

I haven't experienced the lengthy loss of sleep that you have, but I sympathize and hope Addie does get the sleep you and she need.

I love the realization to which you came...beautiful.

angie said...

Absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! She is here...she is with you...and she is AMAZING! Enjoy the cuddle time. Thanks for these words....I SO needed to read them today:).