3 years. That’s the answer to the question I asked myself yesterday. 3 very, very long years.
The question? “How long has it been since I have consistently (as in more than just a random night here and there) gotten a good night’s sleep? How much time has gone by since the last time I could close my eyes and know that I had a 95% chance of getting through the night without being awoken by a child?”
My five year olds are fantastic sleepers. With the exception of Maggie freaking out every hour of the night for a week after Clare was born, the twins have consistently slept through the night since they were 9 months old. When pregnant with Clare, I had no problem snoozing through 9 months of pregnancy. Unlike many women who suffer with pregnancy insomnia, I sawed logs with ease after dropping into bed at the end of each day. I remember thinking that it was some of the heaviest sleep I had experienced since I was a child. Maybe it was because I was so active during the day – chasing around 1 year old twins and working out until I was 41 weeks – or maybe I lucked out in the “I can sleep like a rock during pregnancy” gene department. Either way, it was nice. Very, very nice.
And then came Clare. The sweet and spicy child who stormed into this world taking half of my blood with her. The child who brought me closer to death than I’ve ever been and who will probably, eventually, take me back there. My dear, darling, Clare. *sigh* I knew I was in trouble when the labor and delivery nurses (that deliver babies ALL day long) exclaimed how big her lungs were. For 4 months she cried all.the.time. Aaaand if a baby is crying, guess what they aren’t doing? Sleeping. Oy. But, this isn’t a parenting blog and so I won’t get into the nitty gritty of attempted sleep training and battles with the pacifier, I’ll just lay it out as simply as I can…
The child is possibly one of the worst sleepers ever.
When my youngest (now 16 months) finally began sleeping at one year, I thought that maybe we were on the right track. Maybe she would set the bar for better sleep around here. No such luck. At three years of age, and while her baby sister sleeps through most evenings, Clare STILL wakes anywhere from two to six times a night. In a night that is already shorter than I would like it to be, that is a lot of waking my friends, and I am one tired mama as a result. I’ve read every baby/child sleep book that’s been written. I have researched high and low for a cause and a cure. Time and time again I come up empty handed as can be seen in my dark circles and glazed eyes. There are many mornings when getting out of bed literally hurts, because this time I won’t be able to climb back in. I am just.so.tired.
Running could have easily taken a backseat these past few years. There are many times where I’ve thrown my hands in the air and exclaimed that I can’t lace up my shoes because I’m too exhausted. There have been just as many times, however, that I have convinced myself to take that first step knowing that the blood pumping through my veins will give me the boost of adrenaline I need to move out of the fog and return the energy that had been stolen from me. Sometimes the runs are effortless and sometimes (after especially rough nights) they aren’t so great, but I always benefit from the miles and my body whispers thank yous at the end of each workout.
Often when I read other running blogs, especially ones where Moms are running the heck out of the asphalt and setting PR’s like it’s their job, I get a false inkling that I should be working myself harder, pushing past the pain and fatigue and accomplishing more. I look at the pictures of their big grins after placing in their age group and drop my jaw when they log their morning runs at 4:30am. It’s impressive. It’s admirable. For me, however, it’s not practical. Running is one of my only avenues of sanity these days. It’s the one place I can go to let everything out without worrying about the impending result. It’s a sanctuary where neither thought nor word is weighed and while it’s fun to wear a Garmin and time splits, now is not the time that I need to be putting pressure on myself to perform at a certain level. Sure I enjoy occasional speed work and tempo runs. I’m still a fan of hill repeats and every month I read Runner’s World cover to cover to make sure I’m not missing out on how to make myself a better runner. Someday I hope to jump back into a more competitive position and boost my personal records, but for now? For now I’m going to focus on keeping running as a source of fun, a pathway to mental clarity, a place where I can go and just be myself.
And that’s ok.