Sleep, sweet elixir of life. I love sleeping, and I’m pretty good at it if I do say so myself. I can sleep on buses, trains and planes, ferries, beaches, park benches and uncomfortable hospital beds. The issue for me is that I never get enough sleep, I mean the 8 hours that I long for. I admit that I’m a night owl. I don’t know what it is, I really get a second or third wind around 10:00 and have a lot of difficulty convincing myself to go to sleep, but end up reading, watching telly or doing random, unproductive things online until the wee hours of the morning. Maybe because of this, I find that my best sleep hours are between 6 and 8 in the morning. It feels tortuous to wake up before 8, so yes, I’m totally a morning crank.
My darling husband, on the other hand, is an early to bed, early to rise kind of guy, who leaps out of bed in the morning, full of vitality and ready to get things done. I scramble out of a dream-induced stupour and complain bitterly until I find a coffee in my hand. Many an early morning fight has been had in our household due to ill-timed comments before 8. For the last couple of months, I’ve had to get up and out of bed at 6:30, (oh I know, poor me) in order to either: meet Craig at the hospital, or help Craig get off to his early work start after he’s given Gavin all his meds at home.
This morning was our first back at home, as we finally got discharged at around 6:30 yesterday evening. This was our first time at home that Gavin no longer needed a timed shot at 6:30, so we were free to have a lie-in for as long as we liked. We slept until 8, and I can tell you it was fantastic. I’ve had such an energetic day, so it seems that one extra hour of sleep equals 5 extra hours of productivity. Hmmm, I should market this theory. I’m sure that the majority of us in the West are seriously sleep-deprived, through a combination of long work hours, stressful and busy home lives and too much caffeine.
Kids on the other hand, mostly know where it’s at. Yes, the first year is a struggle, with many, many sleepless nights. Most children, though, eventually sort themselves out and begin sleeping right through the night for 12-hour stretches. Sleep is a bit of an obsession for new parents, and everyone asks you about it. “How’s he sleeping?” they ask with pseudo-sympathy. Parents of “good sleepers” just can’t stop bragging about it. “She’s slept through the night since she was two weeks old!” (See, sleep is a talent!)
Gavin wasn’t the best or the worst, although time has drawn the forgiving curtain of forgetfulness over some of the longest nights we had together. At this point, age 2, he’s sleeping pretty well at night but often has to be coaxed to have his afternoon nap. Once asleep, he’ll stay that way for 2 or 3 hours in the afternoon, but just needs to be convinced that it’s a good idea. Today I spent three hours doing so with no luck. Usually, a stroll around the neighbourhood is good enough, but sometimes it’s just too bloody noisy around here. Honestly, there’s always someone in my area employing a stone-cutter or a pneumatic nail gun. Or there’s a yappy dog, lawnmower, car alarm, loud talker, UPS truck, or (my favourite) junkie wheeling a shopping cart full of metal bits to the scrap metal place. (I do live a nice area, really!)
The point is, any parent knows the value of a child’s sleep. A napless child is a bit of a monster, so those of you without kids out there should be forgiving of your friends’ offspring on no-nap days. All of this makes me wonder why hospitals, and by that I mean a certain pediatric hospital in Toronto, are such horrible places to sleep. The paging system that rings at every bed side, the nurse call alarm that rings in the hallway outside of every room, and the endless beeping of machinery are all, surprisingly, un-lulling. I keep meaning to write a strongly-worded letter to the board but have yet to take action on that.
And another thing! Doctors, particularly surgeons, charge around the hospital at ungodly hours, striding in and snapping on lights to examine sleeping children. Then they are all surprised when said child is upset or frightened. Sorry to surprise you doctors, but weirdly children are scared when they are woken up from sound sleep by a group of strange people shining a light directly in their eyes.
A couple of days ago, during Gavin’s nap, one of the doctors came marching in and demanded to see Gavin’s sutures. I thought that there must be some urgent reason for doing so, and showed him the stitches. I was completely taken aback when he started tugging on them to see if he could pull them out without tweezers. Naturally, Gavin woke up crying and scared and I was infuriated. “Do we have to do this now?” I asked. “Oh, no,” he said, “of course it can wait until later.” Um. Do you think he could have mentioned this BEFORE he woke Gavin up completely? I felt like an idiot for not preventing him from coming in in the first place, but as Gavin was now awake I let him go ahead with the removal. The nurses and I exchanged a glance which read, “Can you believe this guy?” It just amazes me that people who work in pediatrics could be so totally unaware of what children are like.
Time for sleep!