Sometimes the baby never starts sleeping through the night.
Sometimes the baby becomes the toddler who doesn’t sleep through the night. Then the preschooler who doesn’t sleep through the night. Then the five year old who doesn’t sleep through the night.
Sometimes you can read all the books and follow all the “rules” for bedtime routine.
You can follow them so rigidly that family and friends start to question your sanity.
Sometimes it doesn’t matter. The five year old can fall asleep, she just can’t stay that way. Sometimes she wakes every hour on the hour. Sometimes she falls asleep at bedtime only to wake a couple of hours later and stay awake until the sun comes up.
Sometimes, all the time lately, after several hours of being awake, the five year old asks why she can’t sleep. She cries in exhaustion asking why everyone else can sleep and she can’t. She doesn’t have the answers and I sure as hell don’t. Neither do the doctors we’ve been seeing for years.
Sometimes we get four hours of sleep straight.
Those are the good nights. But usually it’s three to four non-consecutive hours of broken sleep.
Sometimes the lack of sleep for years and years starts to add up. It makes it hard to work and take care of the rest of the family and a home.
Sometimes, most of the time, it means missed appointments or late arrivals. It means forgotten deadlines and late payments. It means looking in the mirror and not recognizing the person looking back. It means tears streaming down your face at 3am because you have no idea how you will face the day that will soon dawn. It means drinking the coffee and doing it anyways.
Sometimes it means a five year old is diagnosed with social anxiety and separation anxiety and sensory processing disorder, but no one can say for sure if those are the reasons for the inability to sleep or if they are caused by a constant state of total sleep deprivation.
Sometimes it means you can’t plan play dates or birthday parties because the five year old’s ability to regulate her emotions depends on how much sleep she had the night before.
Sometimes, all the time, it means watching society judge your child for something they can’t understand. For the effects of insomnia so extreme it would bring any adult to their knees. But she’s a child, so they can’t accept it.
Daily it means sending a child to school while your heart breaks, because you know she hasn’t slept. You know how hard the day will be for her. You know that no one will understand and she can’t explain it.
Sometimes it means living in a fog so thick and heavy that you feel the weight of it might suffocate you.
And sometimes, it does.
Sometimes the baby never starts sleeping through the night. And we need to stop assuming the mom is doing something wrong.
Sometimes we need to stop and realize, she would fix it if she could.