14 Jan

There are mornings (many mornings) when I have slept a full eight hours (or nine, or ten…), yet I awaken tired and sleep-deprived. Some sound awakens me. In the past, always the voice on the radio. Howard. Bob Edwards. Traffic report. Weather forecast. The glow of the numbers warning me that I’m going to be late. Again.

Now, it is usually a squawk from down the hall. An urgent screech, occasionally full-blown, panicked crying. In the event of the latter, I find myself falling out of bed without grabbing my glasses, tripping down the hallway, feeling the shock of our icy, laminate floor.

Nine out of ten times her eyes are closed despite the noise. She is asleep…

I have had nightmares as long as I can remember. When they are not nightmares, they are still vivid, active dreams that stretch on for hours and hours. The shock of the awakening sound generally leaves me disoriented for a few minutes. I feel transported to the current moment and I am jet lagged from the time travel. On the worst mornings, the radio (never the child, I simply cannot sleep through the child), penetrates my subconscious. I can see everything the voice is describing play in front of me in live action. When I awakened to Howard Stern this could sometimes be amusing. When I have awakened to stories of Katrina or Iraq, it’s not so much.

There have been brief periods when the dreams have stopped, and I have slept peacefully. Contrary to what one would expect, this has happened when I have been my most depressed, not my happiest; as though my brain was too fatigued to take me on an adventure, not even a scary one…

During my pregnancy I began to moan and sigh in my sleep, seemingly with every exhalation. My voice would awaken me constantly throughout each night, Garrett, too. This went away after I gave birth, I am not certain why it came, nor why it went.

While we were still recuperating in the hospital, I heard Lyra sigh for the first time in her sleep. When she came home, she continued this soft sighing, somewhat sing-songy, but endearingly sweet. As the months have gone on, that sigh has mutated into a groan. She often uses the humming groan to soothe-talk herself to sleep. You can hear it fade out as the sleep overcomes her.

In the past month, that groan has increasingly begun to emerge not only when she is falling asleep, but when she is dead asleep. She spends hours at night squawking, shouting out, and droning steady vowels sound. Each sound awakens me, quickens my heart, and melts away my coveted minutes of sleep.

I am not certain why she does this, if it’s permanent, or what it means. I only know that she is most likely dreaming, and probably having nightmares. My baby, six-months-old and already haunted by the hard work of making sense of this world. I don’t envy her job. I don’t envy the years she has ahead of her filled with many a scary a night, many a restless morning where she wil awaken tired from dreaming.

But I do empathize. I do.

Hello darkness, my old friend.


6 Responses to “Inheritance”

  1. Garrett January 14, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    I wouldn’t assume that she is having nightmares. She wakes up smiling and happy every morning for the most part. That’s not the sign of someone who has nightmares.
    She may have lots of active dreams, doesn’t seem to be hurting her thus far.

    [Ed.–Perception is everything.]

  2. juliepippert January 14, 2008 at 4:35 pm #

    There’s no telling. But how interesting about the moaning! You draw an unstated parallel!

    I take small sounds to be abbreviated communication from the dream state.

    Just wait until she realizes about dreams. It should be sometime around 2.5 give or take. It’s an interesting conversation.

  3. Tammy January 14, 2008 at 8:39 pm #

    Even if she is having nightmares it doesnt hurt her. At her age she forgets what she did five minutes ago let alone a dream or nightmare she had. Kady cries or whimpers in her sleep sometimes too. I made wierd moaning sounds too while pregnant…especially closer to the end. Pregnant people also snore alot…lol Wait till you get to the stage of “I’m in control now mommy and I refuse to eat!!” Great stage Kady’s been in for the last 4 months:p

  4. Suz January 15, 2008 at 10:00 am #

    It amazes me at how loud babies are when they sleep. Mine snorted, mumbled, groaned, chuckled, and tossed. As they grew older, they got quieter and quieter until, now, they barely make any sound at all.

  5. Atasha January 15, 2008 at 11:03 pm #

    Both my kids made odd noises while drifting off into sleep and while sound asleep. Christopher’s noises were only what i would describe as grunts. Alyssa on the other hand hers were almost a song. I do hope it’s not nightmares. It’s true she won’t remember but you nor I or any mom for that matter can feel comfortable with the thought that their baby is having scary dreams.

    BTW: I too remember my sleeping noises when I was pregnant with the boy. My poor husband would constantly be nudging me. At time my noises would even wake me up. :)

    Take care

  6. Garrett January 16, 2008 at 7:50 am #

    I feared becoming my father but, I know now that I’m not and never will be. I think you fear she will have nightmares like you. So at the first sign of anything you gravitate there even if it isn’t so. You will probably feel similar things as she grows older. I see my quick fuse in her…. I know a great deal about having a quick fuse and I will help her deal with that as she grows up.

    If you look at it objectively I think it’s unlikely she has nightmares. She wakes up smiling and happy (you aren’t smiling after a nightmare). She is smiling and happy whenever she sees us (not signs of a fearful mind). In general I’ve never seen a happier baby. That’s not a life which induces nightmares.

    So I would say that you “assuming” she is having nightmares is just your dark side talking. I take it as she’s just a new person who’s body is still learning how to turn things off while she sleeps. Eventually she’ll stop making noise in her sleep. If she doesn’t…. then we’ll do what we can when we can do it.

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