Report from the Night Shift

Posted: January 9th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Husbandry, Miss Kate, Paigey Waigey Wiggle Pop, Sleep | 2 Comments »

Last night The McClusky Sisters besieged my sleep with a brutal one-two punch. With Mark gone to wait in endless taxi lines at CES in Vegas, I’m running solo on the ‘renting. And hanging on by a thread to tell the tale.

So, is it just me, or is waking from a deep sleep to find a small child silently standing inches from your face scary as shit? I mean, maybe I’ve watched The Shining a few too many times in college, but I can’t begin to fathom how parents of twins survive seeing two kids standing in a hallway in the middle of the night. Horrific on so many levels.

The suddenly-standing-right-there kid is one thing, but the plaintive cry of, “I don’t waaaaaaanna sleep!” called across the albeit small house–and a look at the digital clock revealing it’s 1:32AM–is quite another. Even if you know every other time you’ve heard this lament The Whiner has successfully been marched back to bed with some threat like, “It’s the middle of the night and yes, you WILL sleep!” hissed into her ear–even knowing that’s probably how it’ll go down, the vision of what your night could turn into if the little beastie did refuse to sleep is just unspeakably ugly.

Waking up this way is less than ideal, but half of what I’m all pissy about is that Kate’s sleep issues are something I realized–how to say this?–I blame totally on Mark. Since he still can’t lactate (damn it) the natural division of nighttime labor has been Mark serving as Kate’s night nurse and me tending to Paige’s milk-swillin’ needs. Mark’s just such a softie. He ambles out of bed and gently ushers Kate to her
room instead of blowing a whistle loudly in her face as I might do in
order to, you know, break the cycle.

With sleep being my Super Power (along with parallel parking), I’m usually able to snooze through most of Kate’s creepy suddenly-standing-there late-night visits to our room. And I drown out her vocal requests with the patented pillow-over-the-head approach.

So while Mark’s slumming in a luxury hotel, getting buttered up by every hi-tech trade show gadget pimp, and eating out at Bouchon, Craft, and the best Thai restaurant this side of Chiang Mai, I’m home wrangling with the wretched nighttime duet that he and Kate sometimes dance.

I mean, I don’t mean to sound bitter.

But maybe my lack of REM is actually mustering in me a wee bit of co-parenting empathy on this subject. In the past, when I’ve stretched, smiled and offered up a well-rested morning greeting to Mark, commenting on how Paigey “slept through, God bless her,” he’s often looked back at me through bloodshot eyes muttering slack-jawed that Kate “was up four–or mabye it was five–times.” It’s not that I don’t feel bad for the guy, but when he adds that from 1:30 to 3:00 he “couldn’t sleep at all,” he loses me.

As a professional sleeper I know there’s some good shut-eye to be gotten between those 30-second back-in-your-beddie-bye jaunts. It’s always baffled me that between these quick promenades Mark’s often in bed wired and wild-eyed.

But now, like some Scrooge who grew a heart overnight, I’ve come to understand Mark’s plight. The thing is, after the girl cons you into thinking she’s ready to doze off at the first tuck-in, you foolishly climb back into bed, and just when your body temp’s returned to duvet-level warmth and you’re drifting off into a dream about having had a really popular prom date, SHE’S BACK. This time wailing loudly near the baby’s bedroom door. “MAMA!!! I. Can’t. SLEEEEEEP!”

Suffice it to say, it’s jarring.

If it weren’t for fear that she’d disturb The One That Insists On Drinking Milk From Your Boobies If Awoken, you wouldn’t be springing out of bed in a flash to hush hush hush her and direct her back toward her room whispering a strained aren’t-your-blankets-so-cozy-honey pep talk in her ear.

If it’s not already clear, we’re quite religious about not solving this problem by inviting her into our Child-Free Zone, I mean bed.

So, more soporific promises from Kate and another walk back to my own bed, but this time I can’t help but be wary. Why get cozy when the other shoe could drop at any moment? She could be back again before I even have time to lament the oh-so-wretched hour. And when the rattle of the heater cranks up I find myself straining to listen, thinking I’m hearing her door crack open again. It’s like that one ring on the Motorola RAZR phone that always had you thinking it was ringing when it wasn’t. (Admit it. You always fell for that too.)

So, not one to be rooked into nodding off again, this time I’m on ambush alert. I’m almost wanting her to get up and just get it the hell over with. Will she do the spooky silent child by the bed move, or the bellow from down the hall? What’s it gonna be, Kate?! BRING IT ON, SISTER.

But eventually enough time passes, and I let go, roll over, and well, you can guess what happens when I just drift off. “MOMMY!!

Digital clock now says 2:53AM.

To anyone who may have seen me carrying a child fireman-style over my shoulder while growling “No more getting up, and I MEAN IT!” threats under my breath, thanks a bunch for not calling Child Protective Services.

I think this process took place five times last night. Or maybe four. I lost count some time after losing my will to live.

And once Kate lost interest in seeing how far she could push me before I’d put her up for bid on eBay, her World Wrestling Federation partner, Paige, tagged in.      

It was like Paige was perched in the corner of the ring waiting for the bell to sound so she could pounce on my last 3 hours of sleep like a rabid monkey. (I know this is mixing a metaphor, but on such limited sleep this is the best I can muster, people.)

And what a show Miss Paige put on! The baby who generally gets up once at night–if that–squawked first at midnight, prior to Kate’s onsalught, then came at me with two additional awake-itudes spaced out for maximum snoozing interference at 4:00 and 5:30.

At 5:45 I crawled to bed. Cold. Tapped dry of milk. Frantic for sleep but gun-shy about giving into it. And desperately, miserably missing my partner in parenting, our family’s fearless father, my dear sweet Mark.

He who was alseep in some hotel bed. Likely a bit boozed up after some work party or dinner. Stretched out solo in a huge king bed, maybe with another one like it nearby just for throwing his books and clothes and cell phone on.

Hopefully getting a deep restful night’s sleep to fortify him for the family life awaiting his return. At which point I will never again doubt, question, or criticize any of his middle of the night sleep shenanigans, because I’ll be so damn happy happy happy to just have him back.   


2 Comments on “Report from the Night Shift”

  1. 1 Drea said at 5:24 am on January 10th, 2009:

    Parallel parking expertise and “ONE GODDAMN MOLE OF ANYTHING!” – that’s pretty much what I took away from my time at 216 Hope St.

  2. 2 becca said at 7:56 am on January 12th, 2009:

    Dude, master of sleep and parallel parking… I have always known we were separated at birth…

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