Monday, February 18, 2008

Five and Counting

There is something going on around here. Or rather, there is nothing going on. At least between the hours of 8pm and 7am. And this morning? 8:42 am and still counting. Or should I say that the only thing going on around here, for the younger generation, is sleep. Blissful sleep. Five nights and counting. And not only is Oliver sleeping but he is going to sleep easily. He is asking to turn the lights out and go to sleep. And he is doing it without melatonin.

The funny part is that I only just came to the revelation that Oliver has a true sleep disorder and made an appointment with his pediatrician to talk about it. For a long time I believed that the sleeping -- or lack of it -- was just part of the autism. But then I thought about what I know about the core deficits of autism and realized that messed up sleep patterns weren't part of it. So why not look at the sleep thing as a true disorder, distinct from the autism?

The last time we went to see the pediatrician about this she recommended melatonin -- and that has been a fantastic help to us. It used to be that it took me two hours or more to get Oliver settled into sleep. When he was an infant that meant laying in bed with him, completely immobile, in the dark, as he was latched on. For two hours. When he finally drifted off to sleep I would come out of the bedroom like a mad woman, half asleep myself and angry and resentful that I was the only one who could nurse this boy and that Nik and RT had been helping themselves to the rest of the ice cream because "who knows how long you'd be in there." I did that for more than two years. Two years! Now it seems like a herculean task beyond belief. But at the time it was just what I had to do, so I did it.

The same has been true for the general lack of sleep that we've endured. Five years is a long time to live with broken and non-existent sleep. Especially when you have to get up and go to work every morning and manage to pretend that you aren't the coffee mainlining zombie that you really are. Nik and I became like battle-hardened veterans. We traded in our coffee maker for an espresso machine and exchanged silent, amused looks whenever any of our friends or colleagues complained about how tired they were because of a sick child. Truly, we started to believe that no one, ever, in the history of mankind, was ever as tired as we were. But also, in a weird sort of way, we just got used to it. We learned how strong we were.

So I'm not really sure what to think about these last five nights. They are a gift for sure. Part of a trend? One can only hope! But the perspective of a few nights of sleep also reminds me of how our life, in some ways, is so fundamentally different from those of just about everyone else we know. Parallel but different. And hard sometimes. But overall, I have to say, pretty good. And today? Five times better!

10 comments:

  1. Lummy! I'd certainly be lost without my espresso machine, for similar reasons.

    At least I don't have to function in a job situation though. I sincerely hope it is a new trend, but like you say, you never can tell, so I won't hold my breath.
    Best wishes

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  2. Wow, sleep! Very cool. My Nik's nights seem to go in cycles. Right now it's not so hot; not as bad as it has been but not peaceful either. REVEL in the nights you can get. And keep us posted on the sleep disorder thing, please?

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  3. Glad to hear you are in a good sleep groove. Yes, perhaps it is the start of a new trend. Fingers and toes crossed that it continues...

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  4. Sleep! What a blessing. I hope this Nirvana continues. :-)

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  5. Sleep? People actually still do that? I thought it was a myth..:)

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  6. Hope the title of this post could now be called "Six and Counting".

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  7. I'm finally catching up [I hope!] Nip on over and collect your award when you have a free nano second.

    [That would perhaps be sometime in the next few months if you're anything like me?]

    Best wishes

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  8. Saved by melatonin here --- some nights it gets a little crazier but generally I have gotten my nights back. Sweet dreams indeed!

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  9. No one else has described my sleep experience before. I read your post and wanted to go wake up my husband and tell him, "Someone else! She never slept either!" But then I realized the irony and let him be. Our son has no diagnosis yet, but probably is on the spectrum. Like you, I research like it's my full time job (though I have one of those too). It's hard because my boy is very atypical even of atypical things that might describe him. But online I learned about melatonin. I called our crappy doctor and got him to give us some. We had not slept in FOUR YEARS, so you managed longer than we did. But from night one, Melatonin helped. Our boy still wakes at 2 or 3 sometimes, but we're now on week 3 of getting some rest. My nursing experience was the exact same as how you described it, too, only I gave up the nursing much sooner because my body could not take it, and I let him gulp formula and water after that, never ever ever really getting any decent sleep ever. I hope you and I both continue to get some peaceful slumber. I admire you a lot, and am enjoying your blog, which I just discovered today. I am new to blogging and can't yet tell which helps me more - reading them or writing them - but both are better medicine than most of our zillions of "ists" have ever offered.
    I'm originally from Virginia - JMU alum - so there is a piece of reading your words that feels especially like finding a great neighbor.
    Best to you and your family!
    ghkcole

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  10. Christine,

    I could have written much of what you wrote here. Albeit, not quite so elegantly. :-) But I, too, have been that "mad woman", half-crazy because of lack of sleep, tired of having to keep going, keep going, gotta KEEP GOING!

    We seem to have reached a milestone here, as well. Loryn (at 5, 6 in May) JUST weaned herself. So, although we still have to "wait it out" (her going to sleep), at least I don't have my breast tugged on by little teeth and lips...for 2-3 hours straight! LOL

    Paige, in Staunton

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