When I was a kid, all the way till I was a twenty-something adult, I used to sleep like a log!! Once I was down; I was down! I used to sleep so deeply and so soundly that come thunderstorm, or firecrackers on Diwali night, or a car backfiring right under my window, I did not wake up!
My mom used to struggle to wake me up for me to go to school. I would somehow drag myself to the bathroom, lock the door, sit on the toilet, and then curl up by putting my head on my knees and snooze! Once, I even tried putting a towel in the bathtub and lying down there! It didn’t matter if it was hard and damp… I would be out like a light! My mom’s hands sure did pain from hammering the door to try to wake me up the second time!
When I started travelling by public bus during my Bachelors, I perfected the art of dozing while sitting in the bus. If you have ever ridden on Calcutta public buses, you would realize what a feat that is! This continued up till when I went to another city for my graduate studies. I was to stay in a hostel for the first time and was scared about missing my classes so I got a huge big clock (the grand daddy ones which have a very loud, annoying ring, unlike the dulcet tones of the modern ones) and kept it right next to my ear, so that I would wake up in time!
When I got married, it was like I had found my soul mate… sleep-wise!! My husband could go upto one p.m…. he would only wake up after that ‘coz he would get hungry! Once, he ate lunch and then went back to sleep… for his afternoon nap, he said! Both of us unconsciously probably had snoring competitions!
So, when I was pregnant, I suddenly had these bad dreams of my baby wailing away in his cradle while I happily slumbered by his side! Good thing I was with my mom, I thought; she has enough experience of how to wake me up!! My fears were unfounded. What the grand daddy blaring alarm clock could not do, my newborn did with a single mewl of his when he started to stir… my eyelids would spring open and I would be awake to take care of him! I still don’t understand how that happened. If you’re smiling indulgently and thinking, ‘maternal instinct’, I have doubts about that! I was not the maternal kind at all!!
Of course, if a kid keeps waking you up every three hours, things are bound to slip sometime! My mom still laughs about the time when she heard Big A bawling away for 5 min at 3 a.m. She came to my room to find out what had happened, and saw me, in a semi-comatose condition, sitting on the bed and rocking my pillow in an effort to stop it from crying!!!
Once we came to USA, we were completely on our own in handling this sleep versus taking care of the baby situation. It was a big headache in the morning about who would get up to make the morning milk bottle. I even tried pinching my husband surreptitiously to try to get him to wake up and deal with Big A so that I could get an extra half hour!
Well, those tactics work just once! I slowly started pulling myself out of bed. Listening to Big A squeaking was a good motivational factor! Besides, one had to getup to get oneself ready, get Big A ready, get the lunch boxes ready and finally, try to straighten the apartment just a teeny little bit from the mess created last night and never cleaned up!
Slowly but surely, my sleep patterns changed. I no longer can sleep 12 hours straight. I no longer have the urge to stay awake till the wee hours. I no longer need an alarm clock. Somehow, I must have swallowed my grand daddy alarm clock, because every day, my eyes pop open at that strange hour of 5 a.m. and I am actually ready to get up. I am also quite ready to go to bed at 10 p.m. (“like old people”, I hear my teenage self saying!)! No longer can I sleep through a thunderstorm. At one point, I was complaining about the Hubs turning in his sleep at night and waking me up! I am now such a light sleeper that I regularly use ear plugs so that I can get a full night’s rest!
Funny thing also that since I sleep less, I also have less dreams! I don’t know how that works, because I always thought that you had dreams (at least the ones you can remember) when you slept less soundly. Maybe I have finally acquired the proverbial Mommy brain; maybe I am too stressed out being a working-out-of-home mom; maybe I am too busy mentally carving rosy futures for both of my sons to dream for myself! It still remains the case that I am the only one who can hear my child cough through two closed doors in the middle of the night.
Roshni was born and brought up in Calcutta and is now living in California. Her two rambunctious boys, Big A, age 8, and Little a, age 4, are the main subjects of her blog (http://www.bigaandlittlea.com) and she can be found tweeting away (@RoshniAaMom) in her free time (you may well ask, what free time?!)