Sunday, August 8, 2010

Life on the edge of the mattress

Before you go thinking that this post is something family unfriendly, I tell you now it's not.  I'm not discussing casting couches or date nights, I'm actually talking about slumber, snoozing, getting some zzz's.  Or not getting them.

Humans have spent their entire existence perfecting the art of sleep.  We've developed a myriad of tools to aid us in finding that perfect night's sleep, some of which are fleeting fads, some of which are simply part of the mainstream.  Probably the most common, non-medicinal, tool for sleep is the bed.  Usually a box spring and mattress atop a frame, beds come in different sizes to accommodate the user(s).  Regardless, the bed is supposed to help us get comfortable and keep us contained so that we can enjoy a restful night in peaceful slumber.

Once the right bed has been chosen, we have to figure out whether we should sleep on our back, on our side, on our tummy, the possibilities are endless.  As are the possible outcomes, since many of us move around in our sleep.  If you have a spouse or partner, you then have to decide whether you should be all this generation and sleep in the same bed, or go the Rob and Laura Petrie route and have your own beds.  Once children arrive, parents are faced with whether to drag themselves out of bed to tend to their newborns, or sleep their babies in their rooms or beds with them.

This brings me to the idea of the family bed.  We don't subscribe to this sleeping arrangement, but some families do.  I am much too selfish to share my bed, except with my husband.  Sometimes, even that's a bit much for me.  That's just how it is.  Interestingly, humans are the only species on Earth who don't sleep with their young.  It's true!  Many, like myself, put their babies in another room to sleep, and some sleep them in the same room but in a separate sleeping station such as a crib or other suitable baby sleeper.  Each has its pros and cons based on the needs and wants of the family.  I need, and want, a good night sleep, and prefer not to have sniffly, snoring, sleeping sideways little creatures in my bed with me.  Well, except my husband.

Back to the point.  So, I have come to conclude that families who subscribe to the family bed have developed their own unique tools to help them get that perfect night sleep.  I firmly believe that they must have a good chiropractor, and great meds.  Meds to drug everyone to sleep, and the chiropractor to realign them after being kicked, shoved, contorted, and otherwise mangled during the night while everyone rolls, thrashes, and moves around the bed during the night.

Now, I have a king sized bed.  I have a husband.  I have two small children.  Periodically, they (the children) will be scared by a thunder storm, a noise in their room, or they'll have a bad dream and want to come snuggle with Mommy.  Yes, Mommy, not Daddy.  Other times, they're not feeling well and they wake often in the night and they need comfort to return to sleep. Last night, we experienced all of the above.

Fred was feeling a little under the weather.  He's had a slightly runny nose for a couple of days, but nothing more than a cold.  Last night, after a full weekend of playing inside and outside, and getting eaten alive by mosquitoes, he was tuckered out long before he went to bed.  He fell asleep as soon as his (not so) little head hit the pillow.  Mommy's only worry last night was that he might get another nose bleed.  Silly Mommy.

Ethel was the epitome of exhausted.  There is no word strong enough to explain how tired she was yesterday.  She doesn't nap any longer so her fatigue level builds up until she simply collapses.  Long story short, we're still waiting for the collapse (an afternoon nap one day).  She, too, fell asleep in just about the blink of an eye last night.

I, myself, had to hit the sack early last night after a day of swimming lessons, picking up around the house, and doing some shopping for necessities around the house.  It wasn't a terribly busy day, but, for a Saturday, we had a lot to do.  Regardless, I fell asleep and didn't hear the three times Fred was up before 11PM.  At that hour, I went into his room to find Daddy rocking him as he cried looking for Mommy.  Poor thing was warm, probably still asleep, and making no sense.  I knew in an instant that we (I) would get little sleep if this continued, so I opted to bring him into our bed.  Seriously, I had not had a single drink and yet I still chose to sleep with this child.

Have you ever slept with a hurricane?  With the spin cycle on the washing machine?  With a boxer?  No?  Well, you're missing a night with Fred {sorry to his future significant other(s), but, here's some foreshadowing to think about}.

He's never been one that's easy to sleep with.  He'll smack you in the face before you can enjoy his gentle breath on your face as he rolls over toward you.  He'll swing his leg into your belly while you saw logs.  He'll breathe on you, snore in your face, and wrap his arm around your neck before you realize he's even close enough to you to make contact.  It's a real treat.  Last night he added a shout out to the neighbor's dog, including a request to go pet that dog.  At 3AM.  At 3AM I heard, "I want to go see, Cody"; "Is Cody awake?"; "Can we go pet Cody?".  I wouldn't joke about something like this.  I wouldn't.  Really.

The talking wasn't really what got to me.  Fred is a large child, and is not easy to move, let alone when he's asleep.  He's not that cute, tiny, sleeping infant in the picture at the top of the page.  He's 37 lbs of dead weight.  Seriously.

So, somewhere about 2AM was when Ethel decided she was scared in her room and that she needed to charge to my side of the bed and whine, whimper, whatever that was at that hour, to get into bed next to me.  Well, honey, SURPRISE, your little brother is already in here!  Woo hoo, par-tay!  Not.

Got her settled, rolled over, and realized, that was the edge of the bed I was staring at.  No, really.  I'd seen it several times already, but now I was a little more awake, and it was a little (a lot) more real.  Craptastic.  I had already given up my body pillow, and now was having to deal with sleeping at the edge of my KING SIZE BED!  These two kids are a collective 68 lbs, it's not like I couldn't take 'em, but, when they're sleeping and snoring and their little noses flare in and out, and you hear that little "sigh" after they roll over every once in a while, you realize that it's best to let sleeping does lie.  It really is.

So, figuring I wouldn't be able to fall asleep again, I gazed out the windows at what few stars I could see and before I knew it, it was 20 minutes later.  Fred stirred, and I took advantage of that moment to slide him a little farther toward Daddy's side of the bed.  That's when I heard, "Why do you keep moving me?".  Who has a good answer to anything at around 2AM?  I didn't think so.

It took most of the night to find a comfortable spot, between Fred's arm swinging over into my face when he rolled onto his back, and Ethel's bad dreams causing whining and rolling over and reaching for Mommy.  At one point, I thought it might be best, if I had a Leatherman handy, (where are those when you need 'em?) to sever my arm at the then painful shoulder, because I wasn't sure the shoulder would ever work again with all the pain it was in from sleeping funny on it.  Funny, not ha, ha funny, mind you.

Then there's the story of my neck.  Fred's pillow boundaries are non-existent.  I can't blame him, he never has had to share a pillow, so he doesn't know that when you sleep next to someone else, they are then "sharing" the pillow with you.  Ethel is lacking the same understanding when she's sleeping.

Before I knew it, I had the top of both their heads head in my face.  Fred's from next to me where he was laying, and Ethel's from laying across the pillows when she fell asleep.  The rest of me was seemingly forced to the very outer edges of the bed.  I woke at one time and found myself with my body getting ready to fall out of the bed!  The KING sized bed!  What the hell is this about?

Despite my best efforts (pre-dawn, pre-coffee) to move Fred, and/or Ethel, thorughout the night proved fruitless against the wills of a five and three year old.  I have now learned my lesson.

Today, I somehow still managed a good run of just under 4 miles, a nice visit with the neighbors, and two kids who were much more rested than I.  I honestly have no idea how they can wake up in the morning well rested (or seemingly so) after a night of kicking, snoring, talking, and rolling over every three minutes.  Regardless, Fred rose from this sleeping dead and I popped out of bed with him, and I think he was very excited to be in Mommy's room, which is a total treat for both our kids when it comes to overnights.  :)

I only had one night sleeping at the edge of my mattress at the hands of my children.  I don't know how anyone does it night after night after night.

That's all for now.