Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Insomnia September 20, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

It’s two o’clock on a Saturday morning. I am sitting at my computer at this ungodly hour because one of our dogs has a new habit of barking at the moon around midnight, and the other dog, who recently injured a leg, started noisily gnawing at the bandage around two. I was able to go back to sleep after the first dog-interruption, but after the second, my brain kicked into gear. After an hour of lying in bed thinking about bills that need to be paid and work I should have finished yesterday and my to do list for the weekend and why I love the movie The Help so much (Viola Davis—she’s amazing), I decided to get up and get something done…like beat my time for finishing a Sudoku puzzle.

In college, I was a habitual all-nighter. Every paper I wrote was completed while I watched the sun rise, then I’d throw on a baseball cap and dash across campus to get it into the TA’s mailbox before the morning deadline, and I still looked and felt as fresh as a daisy. But I’ve lost the skill over the years. I now drag myself to bed around ten, get up at five to fit in gym time, get to my desk by nine at the latest, work long days, and repeat. I nap on the weekends. Sometimes I nap during my lunch breaks.

I don’t know how parents do the sleep-deprivation routine on an ongoing basis, the first six months spent meeting the constant needs of a newborn, then the next eighteen years getting up for nightmares, water requests, barf sessions, and missed curfews. Maybe if I’d become a mom in my twenties I could have pulled it off. But now, I love my sleep time. I need my beauty rest. I want to get a full eight hours with a full dose of REM! I think of it now as a luxury that I get to enjoy because I am childfree, and I am grateful for it. Especially when I am denied the benefits on long nights like tonight.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her fastest Sudoku-solving time is 3:16.

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3 Responses to “It Got Me Thinking…About Insomnia”

  1. Iris D Says:

    I’m trying to fix my sleep pattern, but it isn’t working. It is very difficult for me to fall asleep on my own before 2 am, sometimes later. I don’t work a 9-5 job, so I don’t have to rush off to work at 7 am, but even when I taught, and had to be at work at 7:15, I had a hard time getting to sleep early. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the problem of being unable to sleep through the night. If I do fall asleep at 2, I’ll wake up at a little past 5 am. Sometimes I wake up after a dream, sometimes I just wake up for no particularly reason. Too often lately my dreams have to do with pregnancy, children, or the inability to have them. When I wake up, regardless, this is the biggest thought circling through my mind… the feeling of having missed out on something my body was supposed to have done (I think for me the urgency was largely biological… not so much dreams of what life with a child would have been like, but focus on the inability to procreate), and fears of what is to come without children and who will be around as I get older if I don’t go before my spouse (who is 14 years older).

    I have a laptop next to my bed with the headphones and an audiobook (which I usually download from the library) and when I wake up with these nasty thoughts, I start listening to my story and allow it to take me away.

  2. Julie Says:

    I’ve been thinking about this lately too. I LOVE sleep, and I love sleeping in, so I don’t know how I’d cope if that was disrupted or delayed on a regular basis. I get kind of crabby if I don’t get my 7.5 hours each night. 🙂

  3. Angela Says:

    Amen to that! I loves me some sleepin’, and I HATES to be waked up! LOL Okay I don’t really have that bad of grammar, but anyway…I certainly do consider sleeping soundly all night to be a blessing of having no kids, and I really can’t imagine myself being woken up multiple times at night and then having to live life during the day. It sounds awful, really!


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