Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Wakes Me Now

She's been vomiting since 11:30 p.m.  Every 20-30 minutes.  After the first episode, I bathe her, braid her long, blond hair so I won't have to hold it back, grab and roll of small-can plastic bags, line her trash can and crawl into bed next to her.  I have that bad feeling this will be a long night.

4:30 a.m.  It has been a long night, but she's finally done.  I've tried to sleep in between vomiting episodes, but each time I drift off, the smallest "hmmm" or the sound of her feet brushing the sheets as she moves wakes me again and I'm reaching for the trash can, sure she's ready to go again.  Now that she's done I'm afraid nothing will wake me up again.  I'm so exhausted. 

But at 6:45 the soft click-click on the hardwood floor all the way downstairs wakes me up.  My aging dog is up and if I don't let him out he'll have an accident in the house.  I stumble down and let him out.  I walk back upstairs laughing to myself at what wakes me now.

I used to be a sound sleeper... and I mean SOUND.  I recall my sister having to chuck stuff at my head to wake me as I slept through an earthquake during our childhood.  I fell asleep and stayed asleep through my parent's legendary New Year's parties that were so crazy I would be picking my way across sleeping bodies the next morning because they wanted to make sure no one drove home drunk.  Early garbage trucks, construction on our house, loud parties in college, loud movies going on IN THE SAME ROOM - I slept through it all.  Perhaps my loud snoring drowned out all other noise.  Perhaps I just slept the sleep of someone with fewer responsibilities.  But no more.  It all changed with motherhood.

I wake to everything now.  A sigh on the baby monitor when they were infants would have me up.  The CLICK of the voice-activated monitor switching on when I forgot to turn up the volume once woke me up.  The breathing of my dog next to me when I forgot to turn on the monitor and the baby was crying, woke me up.  I have super-ears now.  Mike and I will be watching TV rather loud downstairs while the kids sleep upstairs and even without the monitor on, I suddenly hear a "mom?" when I really shouldn't be able to.  If I sleep with them, even the quietest distressed sigh during a nightmare will have me up.  Shoot, even the sound of their heads swishing across their pillow case as they change position will wake me. I wake to the dog click-clicking across the hardwood - even through closed doors or one floor up.  I wake to my 6 year old padding down carpeted stairs at 6:00 a.m. even as he tries NOT to wake me.  I have mommy ears now.

You may think I'm complaining, but I'm not.  I'm merely marveling at the changes wrought by motherhood.  After all, I chose this.  The two kids, the two dogs, the staying at home.  And I know I'll miss it someday.

While I wish Yukon wasn't aging and I didn't have to let him out so early, I know someday I'll miss the sweet dog who laid his whimpering head on my belly the night I went into labor with William and I just thought he was being a weird dog.  But he knew.  4 hours before I did, that dog knew.

While I sometimes hate my mood after a particularly sleepless night, I know I'll miss the little feet padding around and the disheveled little heads leaning against me when they've had a nightmare.

I'll miss it all.  I know someday when I become the mom who only has a sleepless night when her older kid is driving home from college and she's worried about their safety, I'll miss waking 4 times in one night to the need for night lights, drinks of water, hugs and monster removal.  I know when they'll be able to wake to their own alarm clocks and get themselves ready for school I'll miss having to wake up an hour and a half before they do just to make sure they actually get dressed and have something to eat. 

I already sometimes miss the strangely relaxing alone moments nursing an infant in a rocking chair at some ungodly hour in total sleepless delirium.  And sometimes I already miss the crappy night of sleep because I've had to sleep sitting up all night on a couch with an infant on my chest because they have the sniffles and need to sleep upright.

Yeah, I don't sleep as much as I used to.  Sure, I can wake to the soft click of my son opening his door even though he sleeps one floor above me.  But what wakes me now is so much better than what I used to sleep through.