|She’s been sleeping with me since birth.|
I firmly believe that lack of sleep is the truest foe of women during motherhood.
Forget about all the arguments. Feminists say that men oppress women. Parenting experts say that perfect motherhood is a societal myth used to control mothers. The media portrays children as evil savages waiting to unleash on their mothers. Conspiracy theorists say that children are pod creatures sucking their mothers’ brains out.
In all reality, sleep is honestly, the biggest problem for ALL mothers. Forget about parenting methodology. Whether you let your child cry it out, or co-sleep, your sleep gets disrupted and disrupted sleep is a torture method.
SLEEP DEPRIVATION IS USED TO TORTURE PEOPLE.
ALL MOTHERS ARE SLEEP DEPRIVED.
I really shouldn’t need to say more on this topic, but I have lots more to crab about, so I’m going to keep on going.
Friday night was one of the few times I actually slept a full night since before I was pregnant. Yes, I count the pregnant months, because I had a bitch of a time falling asleep when I was pregnant. I had restless leg syndrome, heartburn, and I had to get up to pee at least twice every night.
I remember thinking I’d be glad once the baby was born so that I could sleep again.
Ha Ha Ha
Three nights ago, on Friday night, was the first time I got to sleep until I woke up all by myself without a baby or toddler thrashing about, pushing at me, either wanting to nurse or jumping up and shouting random things like, “Let’s go look outside!” Or, “I want some yogurt!”
When I awoke on Saturday morning, I fully expected it to be around 6 a.m., the typical time that Annika wakes me up for the first time. I realize that a 6 a.m. wakeup call sounds like heaven to some mamas. That used to be me. But it’s amazing how fast you go from being excited to sleep for long chunks of time, to irritated at being woken up before you are ready.
Anyway, I fully expected it to be like 6 a.m.
Lo, my surprise when I turned over my phone to look at the time and realized that was almost 8 o’clock!
I couldn’t have been more excited. I quickly realized that I felt so much more refreshed than I had in months.
I should probably mention here that Annika spent the night at Toyin’s that night. As she does every Friday night since May. When that started, I thought that I would begin to sleep properly again.
I was wrong. Until the other night, I slept worse without her. My nocturnal state is such that my body awakes fully expecting to find a thrashing toddler kicking me, muttering in her sleep, “But I want to do it bah mahself!” Or asking for nurse or a snack. And when she’s not here, I miss her. So I end up staying awake and feeling strangely guilty, as if I pawned her off on her father (who loves her and wants to spend time with her) instead of allowing myself to feel refreshed.
So, since she’s been sleeping at Toyin’s first off, I stay up as late as I want. Because I can. And then, I still wake up early. Because my body expects to.
But not that fateful night.
As many of you know, Annika was not a great sleeper and for the most part, since her fourth month of life, I’ve been getting woken up multiple times a night. Every. Single. Night…. Of. My. Life.There is no life before sleep deprivation. There is only your current reality.
With sleep deprivation it literally feels like you are swimming. And not the good kind of swimming. But that kind of drowning like in the movies where you are just hanging, right under the water, staring at the sky, hearing the people around you, but you can’t quite reach them.
I’d completely forgotten what it felt like to actually — sleep. For months of my life I didn’t dream. I vaguely remember how excited I felt when I actually had a dream again. (My dreams are extremely entertaining. I’m sure that you are dying to hear about one of them.)
I write this down because I am grateful. Grateful to sleep. And I write this because I know that there are millions of women around the world who go through the same thing, every night for years of their lives.
People are always talking about reasons why women die sooner than men. Why they age faster. Why they have failing memories. Why they have more bone loss. Why they don’t seem to get ahead in business. And I certainly think all the reasons given are valid. But I seriously think that sleep deprivation is one of them.
And it doesn’t get enough attention. Because for it to be profitable enough to study would involve having less babies and the Republicans would not be having that. Or it would involve giving babies sleeping pills. And big pharma, no matter how they might try, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be able to spin that as a good idea.
Knock on wood. I can just see it now. In the future. The baby sleeping pill. Gawd, please don’t do that.
I don’t need a research study to tell me that my brain doesn’t function as well as it used to because I’m a mom and for some strange hormonal reason I forget shit that I never would have before. I forget shit all the time because I’m sleep deprived.
I don’t need a research study to tell me that my bone density is dropping dramatically and I need to up my calcium intake. My body aches because I get woken up out of good nurturing sleep that my body needs. It’s bound to have some effect on my bones.
I don’t need feminists to tell me that women still get paid 80 cents on the dollar compared to men at work because of a glass ceiling. While I don’t disagree that there’s a glass ceiling that we women bang our heads on as we make our way ladder. Sometimes, my guess is that working mothers simply fall asleep while they are climbing. Or they stop to take a nap, and all the well-rested men hop over them and stick gum in their hair, instead of waking them up with a nice hot cup of coffee.
And I certainly don’t fucking need some research study to tell me that women have higher rates of heart disease and strokes, but nobody can fucking figure out why.
Sure, they like to blame smoking and birth control, but let’s face it. That’s not the reason. Nobody is honest about how much they smoke when they are sitting in an office wrapped in a paper dress. So those studies are flawed from the get go. And well, birth control pills and shots and shit, are new enough in the grand scheme of things that I don’t buy that theory. I just don’t buy it. Sure, they fuck with your estrogen levels, but so does having a baby, and nobody is blaming pregnancy for heart attacks.
I need to fucking sleep. We all need to fucking sleep.
And until society starts to understand that moms are sleep deprived because that’s HOW BABIES WORK.
And until society starts to understand that you CAN’T MAKE A BABY SLEEP UNTIL THEY ARE READY TO.
Then women will be sleep deprived. Until we start to make concessions for women, all women, not just privileged women who can be supported until their children sleep like regular human beings, we won’t have a just and fair society.
Either that, or goddamn it, men need to grow a fucking womb and breasts. Let’s get started on that, huh science?
Yeah. Didn’t think so.