You may have noticed that there was no post yesterday. You may have thought it was because I was in the hospital having a baby. No such luck. I was just a zombie yesterday due to being up all night with a sick toddler and from having contractions that weren’t enough to put me in the hospital.
I tried to post, really I did. But I had nothing new. And I was working and packing a hospital bag and walking and spraying saline up a toddler’s nostrils. (Fun…go try it. It will go well, I promise.)
To make up for yesterday’s non-post, I’ll include a flash back in case you missed it as to what it is like to be pregnant overseas in the country where we live. (For security reasons I can’t post the country name.)
But last night, during another night of frequent night wakings, I was hit with a flash of inspiration. Just how does sleep deprivation affect us? (Please note, with compassion, that this was composed while under the effects of sleep deprivation!)
Parental Sleep Deprivation Personality Types
I would suggest there are 6 different personality types that emerge from us in the middle of the night changing otherwise normal, functioning adults into our zombie-like alter-egos.
In his desire to avoid an endless string of interrupted nights, this parent is bound and determined to FIX the problem. He may be found in the middle of the night scribbling out sleeping formulas or clandestinely signing a stack of library books on sleep training from the library. Furniture placement, lighting, bedding and routines are constantly being tinkered with to create the perfect sleep elixir. This parent must be observed carefully for pharmaceutical abuses such as gravol suppositories or pleading with the pharmacist for the drowsy version of children’s antihistamines under the guise of preparing for a yet-to-be-booked plane trip.
Frequently characterized by obsessive caffeine intake, this parent mindlessly and compulsively turns to any myriad of things in her sleep-deprived stupor. Scrolling through facebook feeds with no actual memory of the event afterward, drinking pots of coffee, and repetitive actions such as wiping the same spot on the counter over and over are frequently observed. Attention to important things such as diaper changes, events on the calendar and personal grooming may suffer noticeably. Twitches and ADHD-like behaviour are common. Any attempt to interfere or hinder the object of obsession (ie. withholding caffeine or disconnecting internet) will be met with firm resistance and tirades, triggering severe crabbiness.
In an apparent attempt to redeem the sleepless nights, this parent turns into a special type of monster—the braggart. If you missed 8 hours of sleep, he missed 9. If your child woke up 12 times, his woke up 120. If your child had a fever of 101, his had a fever of 110. (Yes, it is medically possible, he insists, even though the child is currently running happily on the playground.) Your worst night will never outdo his ordinary nights. He wears dark circles under his eyes like a CFL MVP, proudly. He is a hero, toughing out the toughest of nights with a soldiered determination, with no thanks, no recognition and astounding humility.
The rarest of all types, this parent seems to handle lack of sleep with a smile. He believes that these stages are only stages. He totes placards with phrases such as “This too shall pass” or “I love you to the moon and back even when you scream all night”. He has a never-ending repetoire of lullabies and bedtime stories. He rises smiling and chipper, believing that with the sun, the monsters in the bed turn back into little princesses. This type is subject to mysterious disappearances if too much time is spent socializing with the other parental types.
You know how some kids get hyper when they are over-tired? Adults are not immune to this phenomenon. This personality, which tends to manifest itself primarily under short-term sleep deprivation circumstances, is unpredictable, prone to random chatter, erratic behaviour and illogical but often hilarious decisions. They may revert to childish behaviours, acting wired, and as if they have overdosed on caffeine. These people should be observed closely (for humor’s sake) and perhaps ought not to be left solely in charge of young children.
In my own sleep deprived state, I’m having difficulty coming up with an English equivalent for El Padre Desesperado. The desperate or despairing parent. This parent has given up. Why? It has all failed. Feberizing, Baby-whispering, co-sleeping…it is all doomed to the same fatiguing results: there is no way in the world to make this child sleep. Ever. This parent feels predestined to a sleepless existence. 7:00pm, 10:00pm, bedtime is no longer is relevant since it makes no difference. Bedtime stories—futile. She has failed or, rather, has been defeated by the child. The crib bars might as well be around her. She is ruled by a sleepless little dictator and has lost all hope.
It should be noted that all types may demonstrate mental impairment to varying degrees. We can only hope this is a phase.