June 29, 2007

Sleepless Nights

During the 9 hour ride, I found myself writing the following. I sat down this afternoon and spilled it from my brain. The places your mind goes during a long drive.

When one has children, they are fully indoctrinated in the ways of ‘I was up all night’. Before I had children, when I heard parents speak of this ‘up all night’ I thought it had to be an exaggeration. Running on one hour sleep, days on end, surely, people were embellishing.

And then of course I had my own children and the first one took ill at but a few months old and was up all night. I found myself with his sweet little head upon my shoulder as I paced the floor of the hall, back and forth, up and down, for hours, occasionally his head would move down to my chest, scrunching up his tiny body, so he could hear my heart as he slept upon me, upright, mouth open, drool sliding down my nightgown. Every now and then I’d find a way to put myself up right on pillows to give my back a break, but after but 20 minutes or so, he would awaken, with the demands of being walked, his wails echoing off the walls at the late hours of the night blending into to the wee hours of the morning.

And then the sun broke and I had, in fact, been up all night.

When you have one child and are home, this sleepless existence at night can be rectified in some part with a cat nap during the day while they nap as well. I never found myself with the complete zombified expression of the parental sleepless until I had my second child and the all nights walking sick babies could not be offset with any form of sleep as there was always a child of which to take care.

I don’t remember much sleep after the 3rd child was born until he was over the age of 3. With a child in preschool by the time the last was born, germ warfare was in full force in our home, no matter how much bleaching, washing, and cleaning took place. Colds, stomach viruses in the most disgusting forms, fevers, and bacterial infections found their way into our humble abode every other week or so it seemed.

I worked part time until Bones was nearly a year old, going back when he was six months of age. I remember driving home from The Swamp (the nickname for the plant I worked in) praying I’d not fall asleep on my drive home. I remember driving home from the grocery store once and seeing a homeless man sleeping under an overpass and instead of thinking, “How did he get there? What put him in that state? Has he eaten?”, I thought, “He is sleeping. That looks comfortable.”

He was sleeping on cement.

I thought that for sure, one could die from lack of sleep. Obviously, I am living proof that one does not, but I often wonder why there are not more traffic accidents from sleepless parents behind the wheel.

But those times go away as children get older, their immune systems mature, they take a more active roll in washing of hands and cleanliness, and they cease to put every object they find into their mouths, as if the tongue should be used as a feeler instead of a taster.

“Oh look! What an odd object and it feels so peculiar! Let me put it on my tongue and see if it feels as odd there and check the taste out while I’m at it” seemed to be the thought du jour with my toddlers and preschoolers, although I’m sure it was not quite so verbose, but rather an impulse that required no thought.

It just was.

And for the record, cellulose does not digest, but runs through the digestive system only to exit in full form. There is nothing quite like changing a baby’s diapers only to think, “Wait! Is that last month’s Southern Living magazine?”

Nowadays, sleepless nights are attributed to hormones (mine) or a meal eaten too late or stress at work, or myriad other factors… rarely is it children having taken ill. Perhaps our children have made us ‘mentally’ ill and kept us up at night with worry, but the ‘physical’ sense of it is not something we deal with often.


Last night, was probably the worst sleep we have had collectively as a family. Actually, it was the first time I ever remember, that five of us were up at 2AM, looking at each other in a hotel room and saying, “I am just not sleeping.”

Times five. Nobody.

We pulled into Gainesville at 11PM, with my proclaiming to my husband, “Last time we stayed at the Holiday Inn. It was horrible. Can we stay somewhere else?” only to find us pass a Fairfield Inn and have him say, ‘Sure. We’ll stay at a Marriot.”

It sounded good.

I’m not big on staying in hotels where the doors open outside. It’s not just a safety issue, but typically, if the doors are outside, there is… humidity. Perhaps this is a Florida thing as there are a few bloggers out there who laughed when I declared once that I don’t like to stay in lodgings with ‘wet sheets’.

No sexual connotation was intended. ‘Wet sheets’ to me means that the room is saturated with humidity. Pulling the covers back, you can feel the dampness from the room having permeated the bed linens.

But the choices were limited and having already stated the Holiday Inn was not going to do it for me, also a hotel with rooms outside, the Fairfield was the answer of the evening.

We got inside and I could smell the moisture. My mind quickly moved to other things when it became evident that the boys had forgotten their toothbrushes for this trip. Again.

Shame on me for not noticing last trip that they can’t seem to remember.

My husband lowered the a/c to near frigid temperatures, which did surprise me as this is the man I must beg to let me keep the heat off when the thermostat drops below 65, as I like to sleep in a cold bedroom. His thinking now was a hope to keep the dampness at bay.

I brushed my teeth, the boys were in bed, and I found my teeth chattering. My husband got out of bed to wash his face and get ready, and I quickly planted myself under the sheets on the warm toasty part of the bed in which he had been laying.

The boys found this funny.

My husband bent his head around the corner giving me the eye of ‘Get out!’ which sent the boys into peals of laughter.

He came back to bed, scooting my body onto the other side… the cold side… with my whining, “But you’re my husband! You’re supposed to keep me warm! It’s your job!”, bringing more laughter from the boys, with jeers of, “yeah, Dad, you’re supposed to keep her warm” and mutterings from him along the lines of “Phht. I don’t think so…”

We were in the ‘dark’ when I heard a voice from the other bed say, “Dad, turn off the light.”

Outside our door was a light, for the lit walkway, and our curtains did not close. Bright doesn’t even begin. We were tired and decided to deal with it. It was midnight. There were sounds from the other bed that I could distinguish as much tossing and turning. At 1AM we heard a cough.

Bones sat up in bed and my husband said, “What do you need” to which the reply was, “Dad, I’m puking…”. My husband countered with, “Don’t just sit there and puke in the bed, get up!” Up he got, with help from his father, carrying him into the bathroom.

Of course we were all up by then as the other boys were aghast they had been sleeping with someone who had puked in their bed. I quickly got washcloths to wipe up what I could. This is when I realized that the Fairfield Inn sheets are not necessarily made of cotton.

The boys looked on in amazement as the puke literally wiped right up, as if I were wiping off a kitchen counter. Yuck. I laid a towel over it and told them to go back to sleep, as I wandered back into the bathroom to make sure Bones was fine. I sat with him while my husband went back to bed. Its no affront to my spouse, but when the boys are sick, they really only want Mom.

I sat with Bones for awhile, rubbing his back until he felt better, and told him he’d sleep with us. If any of us had weighed but 20 pounds more it would have been an even worse experience than it already was… my husband, then me, then Bones, lined up sleeping straight as boards. A double bed is too small for three, in particular when you are used to sleeping in a King sized bed with two.

I looked over to the other boys and they were sleeping on opposite sides of the bed cleaving to the edges, with a gulf of mattress between them. There was no way they were getting anywhere near that towel and as my father said, “It probably didn’t smell too good either.”

I think we’d fallen back to sleep for all of 30 minutes when the buzzer went off on the alarm. But it didn’t sound like a buzzer… an odd noise emanated from it. My husband hit it and it stopped…

All five of us were looking at each other in the well lit room and muttering, “I cannot sleep.”

Only to have the buzzing scenario reoccur 30 minutes later.

He started to hit it again as I heard cursing and threats of pulling it out of the wall.

It was a horrible sleep. My arms kept falling asleep, my neck got a kink in it, I couldn’t move for fear of knocking someone off the bed. Finally at 7 AM my husband woke everyone up. He said since it was such a miserable sleep there was no reason to continue to try.

And it was funny, because as we all stirred, every person was saying, in one form or another, “I didn’t sleep at all” or “That was horrible. Why did we bother…”

So our sleepless nights have changed. No longer are they caused by sick children, although they still come into play, but now they’re caused by horrible hotels with wet sheets, alarms on clocks that randomly go off, curtains that don’t close… and I could go on.

The entire event was closed out by our leaving the room to wet shoes. I slipped on my wet sandals and looked at the other four and said, “Am I the only one with wet shoes? Did I walk through something last night unaware?”

Evidently during the puking sleep intermission, my husband deemed the room too cold and turned the a/c into the 70s. The humidity levels hit epic levels and we think, during our fitful sleep, it must’ve come close to raining. Our clothes and shoes were that wet.

We’re staying at the Holiday Inn next time. I think the room was dry… And the progress we’ve made. In a young family, the parents spend sleepless nights. In an older family… its the whole daggum family.

Posted by Boudicca at June 29, 2007 08:33 PM | TrackBack

ROTFLMAO! We stayed there once. Luckily, no one threw up... Yaa. Not our favorite spot, though they do let dogs stay... if they are under 70 pounds. GRIN.

Posted by: vw bug at June 30, 2007 08:15 AM

You know what the worst part was? We were down at the 'complimentary breakfast' and I said to my husband, "Nothing is free. We paid for this breakfast somehow. How much was the room?" He said, "$100". I nearly choked on my hard boiled egg.

Posted by: Bou at June 30, 2007 09:56 AM

I have learned to check the alarm clocks before going to bed if not using it as the housekeepers think it's funny to set the things for early hours as a "joke".

Posted by: Quality Weenie at June 30, 2007 10:44 AM

Yep, stories like that are what keep me from traveling.

Posted by: Mrs. Who at June 30, 2007 11:13 AM


There is a LaQuinta Inn & Suites in Ocala that is usually decent and not too pricy.

I used to stay there often (read weekly) when my travel schedule included Central Fla.



Posted by: P'Cola Titan at July 1, 2007 06:53 PM

"I don’t like to stay in lodgings with ‘wet sheets’."

How about dry-but-crusty? :-)

Posted by: Harvey at July 2, 2007 05:57 PM