All moms know this territory. It’s dark, but there’s no sleeping. The world is quiet, except for your offspring. The clock says 3:19 a.m. and that means nothing. Life with a newborn, colicky baby or troubled sleeper is extremely rough.
In the day your eye twitches. You overload on carbs and yet have no energy. You want to punch your childless friend when she says, “I’m exhausted” because she has no idea what exhausted truly means. Exhausted is your constant state. You haven’t had three consecutive hours of sleep in over a month.
When you are on duty 24 hours a day with a young child (or more), you are in the trenches of motherhood. Have you survived the front lines or are you there right now? Here are some signs that you are in the danger zone.
10 You are narcoleptic
You are playing cars on the floor with your toddler. You slide the silver convertible across the linoleum then drop your head and start snoring. Junior runs over and tries to open your eyes. “Mommy! Mommy!” he says, “no sleepy time.” You jump when his chubby finger pokes your right eyeball. You groan and wish it was sleepy time.
This is not an isolated incident. You also fell asleep while eating cereal the other day and started to doze while on the phone with your mother last Tuesday. In fact, it seems that you are passing out every other day. You worry that you have a serious neurological disorder and decide to call your doctor after smash-up-cars.
9 You zone out
You're having a conversation and then your friend is staring at you saying, “Hello? I’m asking you a question.” You mutter an apology and ask her to say it again. This time you glue your eyes on her, willing yourself not to blink in hopes you will stay focused on her words.
Or maybe you're watching a new series and have no idea what's going on. You watched the whole episode but you still can’t figure out who’s who because you kept zoning out. You don’t know what you were thinking about, you were just gone. Your mind was lost in the fog that encompasses you daily.
8 You act a little cray-cray
You do all kinds of strange things in your sleep deprived state. You put the soother in your baby’s ear. And you put the dirty clothes into the washer, but never turn it on. You put milk in the cupboard and a dirty diaper in the closet. You put the plant fertilizer in the kitty litter box. You buy the wrong kind of coffee two weeks in a row.
You call the medi-clinic when you want pizza and say “bless you” after your husband belches. You are your own brand of crazy, and you have no idea what you’ll do next.
7 You've become socially awkward
Since your time is consumed in meeting the demands of tiny creatures, you begin to crave adult interaction. When you do get out among your peers, you are energized and excited. But as the conversation begins to flow you realize you are having a harder time keeping pace. Your responses are sluggish and dull. You feel like your head is spinning as you look from one moving mouth to the next, trying to put the pieces together. You try to follow along but you can’t keep up.
They're talking too fast and you can’t put your words together fast enough. The connection from your brain to your mouth is no longer streamlined. You become quiet, more of an observer. You also find it hard to relate to their interests: new bands, great restaurants and deadbeat dates. You don’t care about such trivial details when you have big issues to solve like “how to get my baby to sleep!” It’s harder to connect to those who are free outside the trenches.
6 You drive like a drunk
These days whenever you are behind the wheel an alarming event occurs. You come to a full stop at a green light (because you are looking at the red one two blocks down). You can’t remember merging off the highway, but somehow you did. You put your parked car in drive instead of reverse and ride two lanes instead of one. You missed a “one way” sign and had to do some mad reverse skills to get out of danger.
You zone out while driving and once you even fell asleep at a red light. (Some symptoms overlap.)
When you tell your husband about your funny roadside episode, he uses his serious daddy voice and says, “I should take away your keys.” You can’t decide if you should lie to him about your next incident or get some help before your hurt someone.
5 You’re losing it
You consider putting GPS trackers on your important items, including your child, because you lose everything.
You swear you put your cell on the counter but it’s not there. You spend an hour searching the house every day for something.
You forget the day of the week and miss your friend’s birthday. You lose your purse, the diaper bag and the groceries you just bought. You lose countless baby items: bottles bibs and booties. You are thankful you have a neck or you’d lose that precious head of yours.
4 You get your mix talked up
You have a sentence in your mind. It travels to your mouth and comes out jumbled like an encrypted code. You commonly say things like, “I want some more money for my tea” and “Today I went to the cheese and got some store.”
At first your husband laughed at your wordy blunders. But since your eyes got misty when you said, “You know what I mean!” he now quietly decodes your messages and carries on with the conversation. One day you’ll write a note of thanks about this in a Father’s Day card.
If you remember.
3 You have the memory of a gold fish
You were once brilliant. Maybe you were an honor roll student. Or you were quickly promoted for your analytical skills. Or you memorized long dialogues from you favorite movies. You knew all the stats of your friends: birthdays, hobbies, pet names, kids’ names, favorite colors, allergies, shoe sizes, etc. Your mind was a Costco data collection.
Now that you’ve been losing your beloved sleep, you can’t remember how to double a recipe. Are you 28 or 29 years old? You have to ask your mother-in-law if your husband was born March or May. You realized that if a thought comes in your head, it only lasts three seconds before is gone into the abyss. When you get an important idea, you try to write that down somewhere. Quick.
2 You feel tortured
You just finished baby’s bedtime feeding and then crawl between the sheets. You can finally close your burning eyes. Your breathing becomes rhythmic as you enter a wonderful dream. Then the baby cries. Or your toddler jumps on you saying she wet the bed. You want to scream in frustration. Having tasted a bit of the sweetness of sleep just to have it snatched from you is cruel.
In fact you heard that sleep deprivation is a torture tool and can make people insane. You wonder how long you will last like this. One more month? One more week?
After you deal with the sleep-disturbing culprit, you return to your bed. But you can’t relax because you are anticipating being woken again. Now you are missing valuable minutes of sleep. And we all know it’s harder to fall asleep when we are trying so hard to get there. So you lay there and shed a tear for each second of sleep you are losing to worry.
1 You fantasize about sleep
Remember those far away days when you imagined getting busy in the bed? Now you fantasize about a different type of horizontal – the solo-eyes-closed-snoring-horizontal.
You daydream about where you’d like to do it: couch, tub, car, bus, park, movie theater. You have no shame, you would do it anywhere. For moms in the trenches, sleep is definitely the new sex.
You try to get a little shut eye whenever you can. Maybe you’ll ask hubby, mom or a friend to watch the wee ones so you can make some of your fantasies a reality.