Sleep


water weightI’ve been taking part in a “health challenge” in which you earn points each day for doing certain things like exercising, spending quality time with your kids, journaling, eating 5 servings of fruits and veggies, etc.

Two weeks into the challenge, I noticed that I gained 2 pounds.  I couldn’t figure out why.  I hadn’t gone overboard on Halloween, and I was working out more than normal, pushing myself to be more healthy so that I could earn more points each day.  I’m journaling, eating the fruits and veggies, etc, etc… Still, those two pounds are sticking around.

One of the biggest struggles I have had is the water.  You get 10 points if you drink at least 60 ounces of water per day.  I am not a thirsty person.  Normally, I’m good if I manage 16 ounces a day.  So, as I gulped down my third 20 ounce thermos of water this evening, it hit me.  Water weight.  So I googled it.  Water weighs 0.065 pounds per ounce.  So, 60 ounces weighs about 3.9 pounds!  Subtract the 16 ounces that I was normally drinking each day (1.04 lbs), and surprise!  Almost 3 pounds of extra water floating around inside me.

So, I’m starting to wonder about the true healthfulness of drinking 60 ounces of water.  In addition to my new more liquidy weight, I also have to say that my bladder is getting a workout.  Seems a trip to the restroom is in order nearly once every hour.  Some nights I have to get up in the middle of the night and go, and I KNOW that adding one more interruption to my sleep is not healthy.  And, because I’m not naturally prone to drinking so much, it’s a little bit stressful to make sure I get in my 60 ounces a day.  Now, in addition to keeping track of two kids, I have to keep track of my water bottle too, and make sure the kids don’t drink out of it.  Finally, because 60 ounces of water is all I can manage in a day, I am missing out on my normal servings of milk and fruit juice.  So, less calcium and vitamins from my fluid intake. I still have a sore throat nearly every morning, my skin isn’t any clearer than normal, and I’m not sweating any more or less.

I’m thinking that maybe somewhere between 16 and 60 might be a more appropriate ounce per day goal for me.  Let’s hear it, nutritionists, trainers, athletes, and everyone else:  What do you think is a good amount of fluid intake per day, and how much should be water?

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I just finished rocking Callen to sleep for his nap.  Lately, this little activity stirs emotion in me like no other.  I know that the days of rocking are numbered.  He’s 20 months old now, and getting more independent by the day.  In his waking hours, he’s an active go-getter: climbing, chasing, talking, throwing, exploring, and making messes along the way.  A virtual mini-man, he’s hard-headed, humorous, and hungry.

But, for those few minutes between when we wrestle pajamas on and when I lay him down in his crib, he is my sweet, cuddly baby boy; happy to nestle his head beneath my chin and share a book.  When the book is finished (for the second or third time), he helps me turn out the light, and I ask him if he wants me to sing him a song.  He always nods yes.  We rock and sing for a while.  I kiss him on the forehead and bury my nose in his hair between stanzas.  He points to his nose, then mine; his eyes, then mine; his ear, then mine.

It’s during this time that my emotions stir.  The cuddles, the closeness, the feel of his little hands on my face all fill me with a combination of comfort and panic.  The comfort comes from feeling the unspoken love between mother and child that surfaces during moments such as this.  On the other hand, the dramatic part of my brain wastes no time in fast forwarding right through Callen’s childhood to a point in time when he is a 20-year-old college student who only calls when he needs money.  What will I do when my baby is gone and I have no one to rock?  My throat literally begins to close up, and my heart beat quickens.  I steal another forehead kiss and take a deep breath of little boy hair smell to calm myself. This is how siblings come to be.  I can completely understand how one of these rocking sessions could cause many a mommy to run straight from cribside to wherever her husband may be and advance on him with the specific goal of not having to leave that baby years behind. Luckily, my dramatic brain can still be overruled by my logistic brain, which reminds me that Rechkemmer babies don’t sleep through the night for the entire first year.

When the singing is done, he reaches up and hugs me with both arms, kisses me, and we rub noses Eskimo style.  “I love you,” I whisper to him as I lay him in his crib.  “Yuv yuuu,” he whispers back.

Our couch is a neutral tan/brown color. It has large seat cushions with huge throw pillows that constitute the back cushions.  It’s a very cozy couch that can magically make you fall asleep within minutes of laying down on it. It’s about 8 years old, and is starting to show some wear.  It has survived cat scratches, stranded sippy cups slowly leaking sour milk into it, three moves, and lately, it gets stripped of its cushions on a daily basis to become the stage for “The Carina and Callen Show”, a production that includes A LOT of jumping and bouncing.

This morning Callen woke up at 5:30, which he’s been doing a lot since we took away his pacifier.  In an effort to keep him quiet so the rest of the family could continue to sleep I brought him out to the couch to snuggle.  Burrowed between the throw pillows, I was aware of one of those fleeting moments:  a silent, calm, stillness shared by mother and an otherwise highly active little boy.   I tried desperately to memorize the smell of his hair, the curve of his cheek, and the coy little grin he gave me as he realized I was inspecting him. I thought back to the hours he and I spent together on this very couch before he was even born.  It was the only place I could get comfortable enough to sleep through the night.  Even then Callen was a very active fellow, somersaulting and ninja-kicking my pelvic bone to show his boredom in the wee hours.

I thought back further to the hours and hours I spent sitting on our couch, nursing Carina and reading, reading, reading.  I didn’t know how good I had it.  Carina could easily make a day out of getting her nutrients, and I remember sitting, and staring longingly into the kitchen, wishing I could go and do something productive, like cook dinner or wash the dishes.  What was I thinking?!  Going even further back I recalled more pregnant nights spent on the couch, waking up the morning of my due date to see Craig standing over me expectantly.  “Where’s the baby?” he joked.  Little did we know we’d be waiting five more long days.

Pre-kids, the couch was the place where we sat and visited with friends, where Craig and I cuddled and watched movies, and where both of us took what now seem like impossibly luxuriant hours-long afternoon naps.

It seems odd that something as utilitarian as a couch could be such a source of nostalgia.  Maybe this is why I have yet to find a couch that I like better than the one we have. Maybe excessive wistfulness is just one of those things that happens when you become a parent.

This post is all about how my kids collaborate and connive to hijack my sleep time.  It’s a rant.  So, all you moms who have kids that have been sleeping through the night since you got home from the hospital can stop reading now.

In the three plus years that I have been farming kids, I’d estimate that I’ve slept through the night a total of 10 months worth.  The bulk of those 10 months were between when Carina turned 9 months old and finally slept all night and when I got so hugely pregnant with Callen that I couldn’t stay in one position all night. I spent the last month of that pregnancy sleeping upright on the love seat with a top-secret concoction of throw pillows arranged just so underneath me.  Now, the kids are one and a half and three, and I still don’t get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis.

I know that this is partly my fault.  I am a night owl by nature, and it seems I am raising a little bumper crop of night owls to keep me company.  The problem is, my little hooters like to sleep through the evening hours (bedtime is 7:30) and party down in the wee hours of the morning.  In addition, their father calls himself a morning person, and they want to follow in his footsteps too, so no matter what time they go to bed, or how many times they are up in the night, the absolute latest they are going to sleep in is 7am.

We are to the point now where on most nights, one hoodlum sleeps through the night while the other dutifully wakes at 2am and screams until I appear.  You know, just to make sure mommy is still around.  Carina, being a typical precocious three year old, has an entire laundry list of stall tactics to ensure that I lose the optimum amount of sleep to put me over the edge of sanity.  These needs include: drinks of water, sleeping in a different bed (mine or the guest room), using the potty, blowing her nose, a specific book or animal to sleep with, and me to sleep with her for “two minutes” (which non-coincidentally is the exact amount of time needed for me to fall asleep in her bed in an uncomfortable position and wake up three hours later, angry for falling asleep and unable to walk because my feet are both numb).

Callen, on the other hand, is actually the good sleeper of the moment.  He didn’t sleep through the night consistently until well after his first birthday.  Now, most nights, he is cozy and quiet, leaving the rowdiness to his sister.  However, he has two plans of attack. One is what I call the stealth-scream.  From his crib across the hall, Callen will scream a single, shrill, blood-freezing scream.  He never actually moves or wakes up.  But, being one of those mommies who hears her kids cry at night even when they’re staying over at Grandma’s, that one scream is enough to bring me to full wakefulness with a physical jolt of my body, after which I lay awake, first trying to discern whether Callen is actually awake, and then trying to get my brains to turn off so I can go back to sleep.  His second approach is to whine pitifully until I come in and pick him up out of his crib.  As soon as his feet leave that mattress, he’s ready to party.  3am?  No worries.  Why not get up for the day?  Let’s turn on all the toys that make noise and dig that plastic hammer set out of the closet!

I should also mention here that hubby is oblivious to all of this. This is not part of his job description since he has to get up and go to “work” in the morning. The one thing I worry about when I travel and leave hubs and the kids at home is that one of the kids will have some sort of crisis in the middle of the night, and he will sleep right through it.

I’ve been feeling kind of sickly the past few days, and was really looking forward to catching up a little on my eternal sleep deficit while the kids took a nap today. I should have not even had the thought.  When Callen started nodding off into his lunch plate, I put him to bed.  He was quiet until Carina finished her lunch and I got her into bed.  Then he yelled until I came and got him.  Thus started an hour long cycle of rock-lay down-scream that ended in me finally feeding him lunch and getting him into bed nearly asleep (again).  Before I could finish an over-due writing assignment, Carina was awake, and my prospective nap was a no-go.

Now, it is nearly 10pm, and both kids have been sleeping for about 2 hours.  I should be sleeping myself, but being a night owl makes it very difficult for me to get into bed much earlier than 10:30.  I’ve had the thought of trying to match their schedule – going to bed around 9 and getting up at 6.  I don’t think that I could function that way though.  Apparently I need my midnight oil a little more than I need sleep these days.  I sometimes wonder who I would be if I was still getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep every night like I did pre-baby.  But then, what would I have to write about?