Who needs sleep?

When I was pregnant with Sam, I had Plans.

(not these kinds of plans)

Specifically towards the end of my pregnancy, I Planned to get as much rest and sleep as possible because I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping much–if at all–when the Child arrived. Logically, I know you can’t save up sleep like you can save up Target gift cards or reward points at your favorite clothing boutique, but the thought of getting exactly zero sleep frightened me, and I thought that perhaps I could mitigate its potential damage by sleeping a lot beforehand.

But nothing doing. I had a lot going for me in my attempts to sleep before Sam arrived, but none of that lot helped me. The night before I went into the hospital to deliver, I didn’t sleep at all (not from excitement or anticipation, but simply because pregnancy insomnia is actively the worst). Our hospital offered a night nursery so that moms could recover and get some rest, and I gleefully took advantage of it–by the time Sam was born and safely in the night nursery, I hadn’t slept in nearly 48 hours and was getting desperate.

And weirdly enough, once Sam was here, I actually got more sleep. After about two weeks of insomniac misery, we devised a system of shifts, where one of us would stay up with Sam for three hours at a time while the other slept. We actually each got about six hours of sleep a night until Sam started sleeping through the night at three months, and let me tell you: it felt good.

Somehow, I’d forgotten about the pregnancy insomnia this time around. Maybe because my mind has been on the fact of twins or because I’ve just had so much to think about, but I’d forgotten.

I remember now.


On average, it takes me about an hour and a half to fall asleep, and that hour and a half follows a specific pattern. First, I lie on my back to stretch out my muscles, which are all exhausted from a day of carrying around not one but two babies inside. This feels very nice for about 20 minutes until the itching starts. The itching is a full body thing, probably related to a mild case of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (which I had last time but haven’t been diagnosed with yet this time–likely because the itching starts long before you reach bile acid levels that are required for diagnosis), and it’s hell. HELL. Everything itches, from my stretching belly to my hands to my feet to my thighs to, worst of all, my entire back. For another 10-15 minutes, I claw at my body as if trying to remove my skin because, really, that would be a huge relief about now, but eventually, I’m forced to admit defeat and roll onto my side.

Rolling onto my side is a feat of strength and coordination that always wakes Kyle up, because while I’m usually as graceful as a concussed duck on roller skates, pregnancy has upped the ante so that I’m now a walrus whose entire left side fell asleep. This walrus also has three or four pillows around her “glowing” body, including the miraculous C-shaped body pillow that enables me to sleep at all, several pillows for my head (including the necessary memory foam pillow that prevents neckaches), and a nastyass nasty ass pillow for between my knees and feet. Between all of this–my lack of coordination, my multiple pillows, and trying really hard not to punch my darling husband in the jaw–it takes me a good 5-10 minutes to roll onto my side.

And I get comfortable there because now, my back is no longer resting against sheets at all; instead, I’ve awkwardly flailed the blankets away from my body so that my back is exposed to the chill winter air of our bedroom, which isn’t actually chilly, but I made Kyle turn the fan on right after we went to bed. For about 45 minutes, I’m elated: I’ve finally found a comfortable position for sleeping.

But it’s too good to be true. Though my itching is no longer aggravated, my shoulders and hips now have the distinct pleasure and pressure of supporting the enormous pregnancy belly and my mammaries, which have expanded so much during pregnancy that they’ve graduated from “jugs” to “gazongas.” As I finally begin to drift off, the pain starts, just an ache at first, but it soon becomes unbearable. Now comes the other half of rolling onto my side: rolling back.

While rolling onto my side requires a great deal of strength and coordination, rolling from my side to my back requires only one thing: a high pain tolerance. The actions required to roll onto my back aggravate my already overtaxed groin muscles, sending jolts of burning pain radiating from said muscles back to my butt and down my thighs. The pain is brief, but it’s intense, and more than once, I’ve let out a yelp of pain as I performed the act of rolling over in bed.

What happens next depends on how well I’ve pleased the nebulous pregnancy gods on any given day. On good days, the itching has subsided enough or I’m tired enough to ignore it, and I fall asleep quickly. On bad days, the itching reaches excruciating heights again, and the cycle restarts itself. And that’s leaving off the nights when I have an RLS (restless leg syndrome) flare, in which my legs ache and burn unless I’m performing a Riverdance at all times. On those particularly bad nights, I eventually just give up and move my legs incessantly while reading articles on my phone and waiting for the itching to calm down just enough that I can force myself to sleep.

(shown: what my legs want; not at all relaxing)

On a good night, I will then sleep through the entire night and wake up at around 7 for the day, groggy and miserable but functional at least. On bad nights, however, something wakes me before I’ve gotten those precious few hours of sleep, and the cycle starts all over again.

Last night was not just a bad night; it was a HORRENDOUS night.

It started as just a bad night. I tossed and I turned, I itched and I rolled over, I yelped and I squirmed. For a brief period between midnight and 12:30, I became the actual Lord of the Dance (eat your heart out, Michael Flatley), but finally, finally I fell asleep, long after Kyle had drifted off entirely.

(eat. your. heart. out.)

Now–a tangent. About 15 years ago, a horrendous cold combined with some end-of-the-college-semester stress to morph into a bad case of bronchitis around Christmastime. The bronchitis wasn’t bad enough, though, oh no. When I came home for Christmas break and my mother saw me looking pale and weak, she insisted on taking me to the urgent care clinic on Christmas Day itself; there, I received a diagnosis of “illness-induced bronchial spasms,” which is a fancy way of saying that if I get a cold that’s bad enough, I have asthma attacks. Fun, right?

On the plus side, I don’t usually need an inhaler to control these attacks; if I catch them early enough, I can calm myself down and convince my lungs that they’re overreacting. On the minus side, I never know which cold will be bad enough to induce an attack, so it’s always a surprise, like opening a present on Christmas morning and finding out that someone wrapped an inability to breathe.

The attacks also usually happen at night, so I’ll be blissfully tucked away in dreamland when all of a sudden, I can’t breathe. It’s always a riotous time.

So cut back to me, around 3:30 a.m. last night. Kyle is sound asleep still. I was sound asleep when all of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. Thankfully, my body is smart enough to know that this is a major problem and jolted me out of my blissful slumber and into a coughing fit. This has happened often enough that I immediately recognized it for what it was, thus avoiding anything but (a) some coughing and (b) an inconvenience that lasted the rest of the night.

The coughing was the bigger immediate problem; if I’m going to stop an attack from reaching its full potential, I need to focus on calming my breathing and reminding myself that I can breathe, that I’m alright, that I have control. The trouble was that my bladder was painfully full, so every time I coughed, I ran the risk of flooding the bedroom and ruining Kyle’s night as well as my own. That in mind, and still trying desperately to catch my breath, I staggered off to the toilet, pulled an Elsa with my bladder…


…and finally stopped coughing. Now, of course, I faced an entirely different problem: I was itchy again. So for an hour and a half, I once again turned into the paraplegic walrus version of an egg beater and Riverdance star, desperately seeking a comfortable position that would allow me to sleep. Finally, finally, at 4:30ish, I found one, and prayed that my struggles were at an end.

How naive of me.

I don’t know if it was the coughing or the movement or what, but something prompted Carrie into a fit of hiccups. Obstetrically, this is a great sign–it means that she’s practicing breathing by moving amniotic fluid in and out of her lungs, so yay Carrie! Good job! But at 4:30 in the morning, the sudden powerful spasms of a baby the size of a 7-11 Double Gulp were not helping me sleep. At all. I put my hand on my belly to wait for her hiccups to subside, which they eventually did…

…but woke up Isaac in the process. At first, his movements were the typical tentative, gentle taps I’d come to expect from him, as if he were saying, “Mom, can you please make her stop? I was sleeping.” And I sympathize, son. I honestly do. I, too, wish that I was still sleeping. But then, because I couldn’t do anything about the hiccuping Carrie, Isaac took matters into his own hands and squeezed down as far as he could away from his hiccuping twin.

This, of course, meant that he was crushing my bladder.


So out of nowhere, I had to pee. Again. A lot. I grumbled my way out of bed, grumbled my way to the bathroom, and grumbled through my duty. “You two are lucky that you’re cute,” I informed the twins as I shuffled my way back to bed, now itchy and restless once more.

Itch itch itch, turn turn turn, Riverdance Riverdance Riverdance. By now, it was 6 a.m., and I knew one thing for certain: Sam would soon be awake. The child has not yet discovered the joys of sleeping in to a reasonable hour, though we’ve been trying to train him on it. The training basically involves the use of an alarm clock, not as a signal to encourage him to get up but as a signal to tell him “DO NOT start yelling for us until you hear this beeping.”

At one point, he was committed to learning as much, but that process has gone out the door lately. Instead, what we get is 45 minutes of him yelling through the monitor, variants of “DADDYYYY. DADDYYYYYY. DADDY I FARTED,” and the like until Kyle hears the alarm clock go off and gets up to bring Sam downstairs while I try to sneak another ~hour of sleep (if this seems unfair, remember that I’m with Sam the rest of the day and also have twins in me).

So this morning, as the hours grew small before wake-up time, the sense of dread I felt was overwhelming. I knew that soon, Sam would wake up and start yelling. I knew that it would happen right as I fell asleep. And I knew that I couldn’t sleep through it, the way that Kyle seems to, and that staying awake through the yelling would start me on another itching, turning, Riverdancing cycle.

And I was afraid.

(listen, Pennywise. You can try and make balloons scary and have a floating fetish all you want; just let me sleep)

Sam, still allergic to sleeping in (we’ll get our revenge when he’s a teenager, and oh do I look forward to it), woke up at precisely 6:22 a.m. At first, he talked and sang quietly to himself, but it took only five minutes for the gentle, quiet talking and singing to erupt into yelling. “DAD! DEE!” he hollered into the monitor. “I WANT TO GO DOWNSTA-YERS.”

Kyle responded in a typical way. “Your alarm clock didn’t beep yet,” he grumbled into our half of the monitor, which functions as a walkie-talkie. “I’m not taking you downstairs yet.”

But Sam kept yelling, and I was now on the verge of tears. My heart and mind wanted to be more threatening, to tell Kyle, “If you don’t take him downstairs or turn off the monitor RIGHT NOW, your day will be a living hell because I will sleep through all of it.” And the pregnant, hormonal, exhausted snarl was in the back of my throat, but some part of my sleep-deprived brain remembered that you catch more flies with honey than with arsenic, so instead of snarling, I warped my gravelly, exhausted voice into something that sounded sweet-ish to me.

“Honey,” I whispered to my husband, who’d snored through the whole ordeal. “If you aren’t going to bring him downstairs now, can you just turn off the monitor? Because I’ve been awake since 3:30.”

The sweetness worked. Kyle sighed heavily and said, “Alright, I’ll just bring him down now.” About ten minutes later, they were in the living room and very quiet; and I was, at long last, asleep.

There’s no moral to this long story, no nice little bow to tie things up. I’m still exhausted, even though Kyle let me sleep until 10:30 despite that he was working today. I know that tonight will probably be just as bad in terms of falling asleep, though maybe better in terms of staying asleep (I’m not counting on it).

But I also know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. The twins are coming soon, and that will bring an end to my walrus body, my itching, and my housing hiccups. Kyle and I will take shifts again, and I’ll sleep in three-hour spurts, but I will sleep, and that’s almost as great a reward as having my babies here with me.

Happy New Year (?)

Hooooooly shit what a day. I don’t think I’ve had this eventful a start to the new year since I accidentally and tipsily got unintentionally vulgar with a youth pastor at a New Year’s Eve party before driving home at 2:30 a.m. in a literal blizzard.

This was much crazier.

New Year’s started as it does for most parents. Kyle and I finished our nightly gaming before heading out to the living room at 11:58 to watch the ball drop. The ball dropped, it was 2018, we kissed and started to head up to bed.

Which is when the fun began.

I just dragged myself straight up to bed, pausing only to check in on Sam and make sure he was sleeping comfortably. Midnight is an hour past when I usually crash, and I was already feeling it. Both Carrie and Isaac were awake enough to be questioning the situation (via kicks), and I was more than a little eager to get into bed. No sooner had I snuggled under the covers, curled around my maternity pillow (my blessed nest, I call it), than Kyle came upstairs very worried.

“I think something is wrong with the furnace,” he said.

We’ve had “I think something is wrong with [x]” conversations at bedtime before. Nine times out of ten, nothing is wrong and it’s just something completely normal. I expected this conversation to go the same way. “Why do you think that?” I asked.

“It’s making kind of a pulsing hissing noise? I heard it in the living room.”

Now, it was 12:30 a.m., and I knew that Sam would have no consideration for that fact when he woke up in… probably 6 hours, tops. That was the first thing on my mind when I said, “Well, if you’re really worried about it, we’ll check it out in the morning.”


But Kyle was convinced something was seriously wrong and first took the step of turning the thermostat down to 50 so that we could avoid overtaxing the furnace. I’d protest this any time but the balmiest of summer days, but last night, it was well below zero outside… -3 with a windchill of -18, which is probably colder than it was in Barrow, Alaska. I vehemently protested the furnace being turned down and Kyle compromised by turning it up to 60.

Only the furnace didn’t kick in. We didn’t hear the reassuring hum and roar of forced hot air, except for a few false starts. Kyle went downstairs to inspect again (it was now 1:30 a.m.) and found the furnace hissing, squeaking, and then falling silent with the lockout light on.

He called a 24-hour HVAC service, hoping to catch someone on New Year’s Eve, during a huge cold snap, at 2 a.m., but after about half an hour of holding, he gave up on that endeavor. We made a plan: at 7, he would get Sammy and bring him into our room so that Sammy could get dressed in approximately 32 layers of clothes. Then Kyle would dig out his car, pack us some bags, and send us off to my parents’ house (with the cat as well) to ride out the coldest of the incident. With any luck, the problem would be resolved sooner rather than later.

It was 2:30 a.m. at that point, and the two of us fell into an exhausted sleep that lasted until 5:30 a.m. for no good reason. It wasn’t that Sam woke us up or Tinkerbell woke us up, we just woke up at 5:30 and, knowing what the day held, couldn’t fall back asleep.

But we tried. Oh my god did we try.


Around 7, Kyle went to bring Sam into our room, where he could burrow under the covers and keep warm until it was time to leave. Sam thought it was all a wonderful game, especially because he got his Kindle straightaway and because he had Mommy and Daddy there to play Kindle with him. He showed off his favorite games and tried to get us to participate, but I’ll be honest–I was still in a twilight space of not even slightly awake, so it all sort of blurred together.

Kyle dug out his car, Sam got very excited about Tinkerbell being on the bed with him, and around 8 a.m., it was time to make tracks. I bundled up–five layers on top, two on bottom–and we packed up the car to head out to my parents’ house, leaving Kyle to wait for the HVAC guy and stopping for Dunkin Donuts on the way.

Stopping for Dunkin Donuts ended up changing the morning somewhat significantly. As we drove down our street towards the nearest Dunkin, I saw a woman crossing the road. At first, I felt a stab of annoyance that wasn’t even logical–we’re in the middle of nowhere and don’t really have sidewalks at all, much less crosswalks. So of course she’d be in the middle of the road, and I don’t know why I was irritated.

Anyway, she flagged me down, and once I slowed and stopped, I could see that she was really distressed–tears running down her cheeks, all bedraggled and out of sorts. At the same moment, I remembered that, oh yeah, it’s three whole degrees outside. There’s no reason for someone to be out in that kind of weather unless they’re either really dedicated to their fitness routine or in really dire straits.

She was the latter. I didn’t really piece together the whole of her situation, but I gathered enough–that her sister had kicked her out, that she needed to get back to her apartment in the next town over (coincidentally, right on the route that Sam and I were taking to my parents’ house), that she didn’t know what to do.

So I told her to get in the car.

She was effusively grateful and offered to pay me something, but dude, I’m not even going out of my way here. It’s alright. Just hold the donuts for me and don’t turn out to be a serial killer and you’re good.

And, well. Like I said, her apartment was on the way. We chatted the whole way there, friendly conversation about nothing, and she got upstairs alright. And then Sam and I (and Tinkerbell, who she thought was actually a baby?) continued on to my parents’ house.

I’ll be 100% honest–my recollection of the morning at my parents’ house is pretty fuzzy because my exhaustion had started to hit by that point. My mom had to work, but my dad was home for the holiday, and he and Sam play off each other really well, so I knew Sam would be in good hands despite my zombie-like state. I mostly remember the series of games they played: dragon vs. castle (with the old play castle my brother and sister and I had when we were kids), Wall-E and Silly Songs, Sorry, and finally, drums and piano.

That last bit involved the new drum machine my dad got for Christmas, which had Sam all excited because it made noises, and my dad plugged it into the living room sound system, so it made loud noises. Nothing in the world is better to a three-year-old than loud noises, except perhaps loud noises sanctioned by and shared with his grandfather. The two of them had a marvellous time.

As for me? I… tried to sleep. I tried really hard, but comfort is just not something my body is capable of lately except under very specific circumstances. I laid down on Sam’s bed (which used to be mine, until I moved out of the house wayyyy back in 2009) and tried to sleep, but my weirdly shifted center of gravity didn’t really lend itself to a comfortable rest in my childhood bed, so that was a wash. At some point, right when I was getting to a stage where I could ignore my discomfort long enough to pass out, Sam burst into the room crying and tattling on my dad, something about donuts? I have no idea.

The HVAC guy got to our house around noonish, give or take, and found that the furnace had just shut down because–get this–it’s so cold outside that the oil line literally froze. I guess this can happen sometimes when you have an outdoor oil tank (which we have because our house is kind of low on storage for literally anything) and it’s cold as balls out, which it has been (but hey! Next week, it’s going to get into the 40s, so break out your bathing suits, citizens of Massachusetts!). The problem was fixed within 5 minutes and for less than $200, both of which had us sighing in utter relief–when things go wrong in our house, those things tend to be massive fixes that cost at least $500.

And, well. Money has been tight since I left my job, which we knew it would be. We had enough squirreled away that we could afford to pay for some minor repairs, but furnace repairs have a pretty wide range of costs, and we didn’t know what range we’d end up on. That the costs were on the low end of things basically took an awful situation and made it infinitely more palatable.


When Kyle told me all of this, he also said that he’d keep an eye on the interior temperature and let us know when it was back to being livable (that morning, when we’d all gotten up, the temperature inside had dropped to 40 degrees, which was admittedly significantly more than the -3 degrees outside but was still not even slightly livable), and I told him that I was coming home by 3 regardless. This was at least partly because of the one piece of chaos that we were expecting: the arrival of our new dryer.

Let’s rewind a bit to when we bought this house, three years ago. The former owners kindly left the washer and dryer behind for us, which was fantastic–before moving in, we’d had to either use our apartment complex’s machines down three flights of stairs and costing about $6/load or make a weekly jaunt to my parents’ house to hang out while doing 1-2 loads of laundry (we learned to be frugal with our laundry in those days). Any washer and dryer were an improvement over that situation (much though I love spending time with my folks, it’s better to be able to do laundry in your own place, especially when you have a baby).

And the washer, at least, is great. It’s not brand new, but it’s lovely and functional and has all the different settings and is basically a Washing Machine For Grown-Ups. Having it handy to take care of various messes–cat-induced, baby-induced, otherwise-induced–has been a joy.

The dryer… eeeeeh.

It was quirky from the start. It only ever worked on the medium setting, meaning that we basically had to throw everything in and pray for the best. What was more, it didn’t turn off on its own after any period of time–if you forgot about it, forgot to set a timer or what-have-you, it would just keep running and running and running, wasting so much energy and threatening to burn down the house and shrink your clothes in the same breath. The lint trap was also a hilarious mistake: it caught lint in the filter, alright, but the lint also often got stuck in the trap holder, which made the entire thing pointless.

I probably could’ve lived with it for a while, but my parents weren’t fans of that strategy and bought us a new dryer for Christmas. And it was scheduled to arrive January 1.

January 1: the day of the broken heater, the wandering stranger, the playing at my parents’ house, and no sleep.

As Sam and I were preparing to pack up and leave, Kyle called again to let me know that the dryer would be delivered in the next 20 minutes, which was wonderful timing, as it takes about 20 minutes to get home from my parents’ house. I rushed out the door a little bit, letting Sam get away with abducting a Santa hat he found, ignoring the loud protests of the cat as we slipped her into her carrier once again, and trying to drive safely despite the fact that I was seeing double by that point.

We got home to see a truck parked outside the house and a man running from the front door back to said truck. And the truck drove away, and Kyle poked his head out the door and told me to go into our laundry room.

And, well. My new dryer is beautiful.

26165767_10155121262840592_1631067740820553886_n(it makes pretty little music noises when you turn it on and off)

And that’s how my year started! Dinner and evening activities passed in an absolute blur, and both Kyle and I were asleep almost as soon as our heads hit our pillows, only to find when we woke at around 7 a.m. that the furnace had died again sometime during the night. This time, though, it came back to life after a bit of swearing at and cajoling by Kyle… and after protesting with concerning squeaks and clanks that had us calling the HVAC company back again (they still haven’t arrived–it’s almost 9:30 p.m., and our window for service was approximately from 7:30 a.m. until midnight, so yay).

I think I need another holiday.