The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation {Mourning the Loss of Sleep)

The 5 Stages of Sleep Deprivation - a hilarious take on "mourning the loss of sleep" from a mother's perspective

Once upon a time, I had twins that were teething for 18 months straight.  Seriously.  Every once in a while, we’d get a brief reprieve. But from the time they were 6 months until they were two years old, they were teething.

All my sisters had babies who popped in teeth like they were checking their Instagrams. As if it was just no big deal.  But for me, the only one who was dealing with two babies at once, growing in each new tooth was a near apocalyptic crisis.

Frozen washcloths, amber teething necklaces, homeopathic teething tablets, baby ibuprofen… we pulled out all the stops.  I’m pretty sure that they only helped by making us feel like we were doing something, anything, to ease their pain.

I would go for months at a time sleeping in 20-45 minute spurts throughout the night.  When I was totally desperate for a decent REM cycle, my husband would take the babies out to the car and drive them around in the middle of the night until they fell asleep in their car seats.  Then he would bring them back in once I’d gotten a couple hours of uninterrupted slumber.

So whether you’re a first time mom with a newborn that has her days and nights mixed up or a frazzled mom of a teething toddler – I feel your pain.

I feel that it’s my duty to brief you on the 5 stages of sleep deprivation.  Learn to recognize them and justify your near insanity. 


You hear the baby babbling at an hour far too early for brain function, after a night that can best be described as consecutive napping.  You think to yourself: “The baby isn’t really awake for the day.  There’s barely any sunlight out there and I can only hear one or two birds chirping.  We’re going to fall back asleep soon for another hour (or four).  If I just lay here long enough with my eyes closed, she’ll take the cue and go back to sleep too.  The night’s not actually over yet.  It can’t be…”


You finally give up on getting that extra hour of sleep and stumble out of bed with your babe (who seems magically well rested after sleeping for what seemed like  90 minutes total last night).  You realize that you’re out of coffee beans, your phone is dead, and even if you had coffee to make, you can’t find your favorite mug… and this all fills you with an unspeakable rage. Unfortunately, this anger is typically directed at the unsuspecting husband, because it needs to be someone’s fault and it can’t be yours because sleep deprivation disables the part of the brain that is capable of logic and reason and JUST LET ME SCREAM AT SOMEBODY RIGHT NOW!!!!


Okay, it’s okay.  We can figure this out.  Coffee will make everything better.  And the baby loves car rides, so a trip to the Starbucks drive thru is a win-win, right?  All I need is a little caffeine.  I’m really not going to feel like this for the rest of the day, I just need to spend $7 on as much espresso as I can get. Yes, a quintuple shot  latte is all I need to get this day going.  I’ll feel totally fine once I’m caffeinated…


It’s 9am.  We’ve been up for how many hours now? Did they give me decaf on accident?  Does it even matter?  I’ll probably never sleep again anyway.  This is just my life now.  How long until nap time?  I don’t care.  It won’t help.  Nothing will ever help…


Wait a minute… the baby’s asleep.  I can SLEEP?!?!  We can do this.  It won’t be easy, but we will survive it.  I will sleep when the baby is sleeping (even when it isn’t nearly long enough). I will accept the fact that this season of life may be characterized by impaired brain function and occasional crankiness. And at some point in life, hopefully this decade, she will sleep.  She will sleep through the night.  And so will I.  And my sanity will return.  I hope.

And mothers?  Let your dear husbands read this.  Encourage them to learn and recognize these signs. That way they can support and comfort you while you mourn the loss of sufficient sleep for this chapter of life. 

(By the way, my twins did eventually sleep through the night.  Getting a sufficient amount of sleep felt so amazing, that I decided it was time to have another baby.  We just never learn, do we?)

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