What Lies Beyond

Motherhood, for me, has been an exercise in learning what happens when I pass my limits. Postpartum came as I passed the limits of hormone swings. Exhaustion as I passed the limits of sleeplessness. I don't know what to call this love that passes the limits of all description.

And now there is worry. Worry that turns to fear and ice in my gut. Worry that brings tears and frustration and despair and anger.

 He doesn't sleep.

At his age the Buddy should be sleeping between 12 and 16 hours in every 24 hour period - depending on who you believe. He gets 8-10. Every single day he is losing sleep that he will never get back. For infants sleeping is when new neural pathways are formed. It's when connections are made and excess energy is dispersed. It is vital.

It is also mysterious. No one can tell us why he isn't sleeping. Or rather, everyone thinks they can and none of the answers have helped. There isn't anything - besides drugs and CIO - that we haven't tried. He has trouble falling asleep, he doesn't stay asleep and during the day he is increasingly wired and easily frustrated. He's unable to sit quietly while I read a story or snuggle anymore.

We contacted a sleep consultant and filled out all the forms and are waiting for them to formulate a plan for us. I called his pediatrician. She said that the sleep consultant wasn't a bad idea and that we can 'explore options' at his six month appointment (next week).

My mother has said that maybe we should 'just ride it out' and that there may be nothing we can do. She points out that his paternal grandmother is a bad sleeper and that I have suffered from insomnia myself. During each of my battles with insomnia I was desperate for rest and for answers - she never really seemed worried, more just annoyed that I wasn't sleeping like she told me to. She didn't call doctors and do research, she told me to figure it out. I felt alone with my problems a lot as a child and a teenager. I know that is where some of this drive for answers is coming from. I will not do that to my son. So when she says things like that it feels like a physical assault and I want to scream, "Just because you don't know what to do doesn't mean you shouldn't do anything!"

I'm going to have to stop telling people though. They ask how he is. They ask how he's sleeping, because people ask that about babies. I'm going to start lying just so that I don't have to listen to one more piece of foolish/offensive/dangerous advice. People have suggested that we keep him up all day - as if he isn't already exhausted.

That we should take him outside more because fresh air will tire him out.

That we should give him Benadryl.

Or Motrin.

Or alcohol.

That we should just put him in the crib and he'll sleep when he's tired.

The things that my family and even strangers have said can make me angry to the point of violence. If he wasn't eating would they say that? If he wasn't pooping would they say, "Oh well, he will when he wants to!"? No. They would say he was ill. They would worry with me or at least give me the courtesy of not saying that my worry is pointless.

My baby is sick and just because it isn't physically obvious and doesn't have a name does not mean that it isn't serious. Adam and I are doing all we can, every day, to try and get him the rest that he needs so desperately but cannot take.

I pray that this isn't because of something I did. I pray that this isn't a symptom of a larger problem. I pray that the insomnia isn't doing permanent damage.

I pray that he will not pass the limit of what he can handle before we figure out how to help him.

I pray.

Graeme Seabrook