My younger daughter spent the first two years of her life screaming. You can call it colic for only so long; she outgrew that diagnosis and no one could ever really tell me what was wrong with her.
For those two years, I didn’t sleep. I spent my nights walking the house in that sorta bouncy rocky walk that moms of infants know, holding her tightly in hopes of a few hours respite for the rest of the house. If I rocked her hard and fast enough in a rocking chair she might pass out for a while, and so I saw the wee small hours of every night from a creaky rocker.
Sleepless nights with a baby are expected. Don’t get me wrong, they were tough, and I felt useless and helpless and exhausted all the time. But it’s what we do. And I was young.
Almost 20 years later, sleepless nights are very different. I’m not an energetic 20-something mom, I’m an overwrought 40-something caregiver. I’m weary in a deep way that affects every single thing in my life. Those wee small hours of the morning look very different these days. I look very different these days, too. I’ve started tucking my eye-bags behind my ears and that seems to help.
Last night was the first night in a week I’ve stayed at home. My sister was stable enough that I felt okay leaving her.
This morning I walked out of my house while on the phone with the insurance company. I’d been on hold for 25 minutes when she finally came on, and I was running late. I started my car, let it warm up, and kept talking to her about why they were refusing coverage of some testing. It wasn’t until I pulled out of my driveway and lost the call that I realized I’d been on the house phone, not my cell phone.
I pulled back in to take the phone inside, jumped out of my car, ran inside, tripped over the puppy who has no sense of time and thought I’d been gone for DAYS, and tossed the phone on the table. I was inside all of 15 seconds.
When I walked back outside, my car was was not where I’d left it. It was now perfectly wedged under the front porch decking. I hadn’t put the damn thing in park.
Lucky for me (imagine that!), my car fit perfectly between the support posts, and had rolled slowly enough to just stop when the windshield hit the deck. When I backed it up, the porch stayed put. Wonders never cease.
When I got to the hospital, I parked and walked almost to the front doors before remembering my bag in the car. When I got back to the car, there was a man looking in the driver’s window with his hand cupped around his eyes. Turns out he wasn’t looking to steal my 20 year old rusty Volvo, he was hoping he could turn my headlights off for me.
By the time I made it to my sister’s floor, I was frazzled. I always stop by the nurse’s station for an update before I go in. I’d missed the night nurse (who I was hurrying to speak to) and caught the nurse who had just come on, and she was no help at all. I have very little filter between brain and mouth at the best of times (No, Whiskey, REALLY?) but these days I’ve none at all. I was far too rude.
I’m lucky that nurses seem to understand that they’re not seeing people at their best, but rather often at their worst. Instead of getting offended by my idiocy, she looked at me kindly and smiled, “You look like you could use some sleep. I’ll bring some blankets to your sister’s room for you.”
And so I’m typing this while sitting on a clever little fold out bed/chair, wrapped in hospital blankets that smell of bleach. I actually love hospital blankets. They’re heavy cotton and bright and clean. She brought me three. I may sneak one into my bag.
I’ll learn more when the doctor comes for rounds later, but it looks like my sister might get to go home today.
Which means I’d be really smart to sleep while I can.
Real life woman. Virtual World avatar. Likes top shelf vodka, dominant men, blues, sunsets and playing darts. Dislikes insecurity, rap, small children and clowns. I'm either behind the bar or under it.