Wide Awake (#295)

I was a night owl as a child and an insomniac as an adult. I stayed awake replaying the events of the day—especially everything I did wrong. Therapy and getting an insane amount of exercise cured me in my twenties. After a miserable pregnancy (with equally miserable sleep), I woke up for breastfeeding several times a night. Once Baby D dropped nighttime nursing, I woke up because I’d gotten used to waking up. The slightest noises woke me up because Something Might Be Wrong with Baby D.

Then I woke up because something WAS wrong with Baby D, either an illness or a scream of “Want dinner!” at midnight.

My husband Andy never woke up unless I punched him in the arm, which, as I slept less and he snored more, made me want to punch him even harder.

Chronic sleep-deprivation is torture and it makes you psychotic.

In a perfect world, we’d have had a house with an extra bedroom where I could sleep. Our world is not perfect and housing in Los Angeles is expensive. I could sleep with the snoring husband in the super expensive comfy bed or the snoring dogs on the not-so comfy couch.

I mostly slept in the bed, using earplugs and Benadryl. My sleep improved. It might have improved more if Andy ever heard Baby D crying before I did, but I always woke up first–even with earplugs. Whatever super-critical psychological quirk made me notice dirt, crooked pictures, or anything out of place also woke me up if there was any unusual noise at night.

I swapped Benadryl for all kinds of different sleep meds, some of which I learned were also anti-psychotics, (possibly why Andy is still alive). Other medications made me appear drunk (Andy is a huge fan of Ambien for just that reason).

Sleep drugs helped, except on the nights when a cat hairballed, Woofie puked up purloined cabbage, or some idiots decided to use our lawn as a toilet.

One night, though, I woke up to…nothing. Baby D was asleep. The pets and husband were snoring softly. Yet something had gotten through earplugs, Ambien, and NyQuil: a faint whiff of smoke. I prowled the house, opening windows and trying to see if someone was smoking outside on a late walk. The street, sidewalk, and backyard were empty. Yet the smell of smoke remained.

Because I will always err on the side of caution (or maybe because I was pissed he was asleep while I was awake AGAIN), I finally shook Andy.

“Thanks for not punching me,” he muttered groggily. “What’s up?”

“I smell smoke, but the house isn’t on fire and there’s no one around smoking—”

“Oh, shit!” Andy was out of bed and out the backdoor before I finished talking. He  dragged the garden hose to the dog run on the far side of our detached garage. I trailed after him, utterly confused – until I saw that our trashcan was spewing smoke.

Andy flipped back the lid and turned on the hose. In seconds, the small fire was out. Aside from the melted rubbish container, there was no damage.

After heaping praise on my quick-thinking firefighter, I asked, “How on earth did you immediately know what was on fire?”

“Well, um, you know, if it wasn’t the house or garage, then that was a logical place, and um…also I put the coals from smoking that pork butt in the trash tonight,” Andy finally admitted. “They must not have been completely extinguished.”

“Ohhhh. All is explained,” I answered. “Except—why am I up instead of the dogs?! I took Ambien AND NyQuil. They’re supposed to have a great sense of smell and they haven’t even left their dog beds! Slackers!”

“You know that Fey goes off-duty at night.”

“But we could have burned up!”

“No, honey. We will never burn up. No one will ever break in undetected. When Baby D is a teenager, he will never be able to sneak out at night. But not because of the dogs. Because you will always wake up.”

“Is that why everyone else in this house sleeps so soundly at night? Because I’m on guard?!”

Andy patted my shoulder. “That’s why I married you.”

It was a near thing, but I did not punch him in the arm.

Valentine’s Day: BC vs. AD (#276)

I titled this post “Valentine’s Day” because it’s the season, but really? Valentine’s Day is a euphemism for sex. Romance, too, but mainly sex.

In our house, BC stands for “Before Children.” Back during Valentine’s Day BC, my husband snuck home from work for “nooners.” We had sex whenever we wanted, but there was always guaranteed sex on Valentine’s Day, his birthday, and our anniversary.

AD stands for “After Dalton,” our son.  Valentine’s Day AD? Bahahahaha.

I learned from sisters and mom friends that’s normal. If you’re a halfway decent mom, sex and romance disappear after kids.

It’s not because you didn’t try. Wait, let me rephrase. It’s not because you didn’t want to try.

Okay, maybe it is because you didn’t want to try. Continue reading Valentine’s Day: BC vs. AD (#276)

Autumn on the Edge (#262)

Nursing moms never sleep in. Not on holidays, and not on weekends. Even if you could sleep through a crying baby, you probably can’t sleep through aching, leaking boobs. So up you get at 4:30 AM, changing the baby, feeding the baby, and then maybe entertaining the baby if baby is suddenly wide awake.

After all, your poor partner works hard all week, providing for you and the child. There’s probably a stressful project at work, or maybe he had to travel. And since you’re already up, you take a last, wistful look at your comfy bed before closing the door and letting your husband sleep in.

You don’t know it, but you’ve taken the first step to divorce.

Or murder. Continue reading Autumn on the Edge (#262)

The Itch (#248)

I didn’t have an easy pregnancy.  There were six months of puking. There was weight loss, weight gain, anemia, and cankles

Pregnancy was miserable, but I didn’t think you could actually become allergic to being pregnant.

Turns out, you can.

My arms started to itch. I looked for bug bites. Nothing.  Just light redness.

Continue reading The Itch (#248)

New Year’s & All That Noise (#243)

A few years ago, a thirty-something couple moved into the house behind us. They had two girls under age five and another baby on the way. When the mom told me that her husband once danced and sang on a table, I assumed she was indulging in nostalgia rather than foreshadowing.

Until festive lights went up in the backyard. This was followed by a disco ball, loud music, and the chanting of “Drink, drink, drink!”

Another neighbor called and asked where the frat party was.

“At the newborn’s house,” I replied.

Continue reading New Year’s & All That Noise (#243)

Night Terrors: In-Law Visit Part II (#166)

Yes, when coping with in-laws, much “resolve” is needed.

The holidays are over. Brace yourselves. Back to my Chinese-American in-laws!

Way back when, Jay and Sunny had just arrived at LAX, ready to spend an ungodly amount of time visiting us – in our 1,100 square foot house. With our 2 big, in-your-face-I-love-you-so-much dogs.

I never imagined the dogs would be a problem. I mean, Sunny and Jay had a small dog named Biscuit. Continue reading Night Terrors: In-Law Visit Part II (#166)

The Mystery of the Fire (#107)

Think this little fireplace looks cheerful and benevolent? THINK AGAIN...
Think this little fireplace looks cheerful and benevolent? THINK AGAIN…

I’m still on ski vacation, while Andy drove back LA. He’s enjoying some “alone time,” and promised to take down the Christmas tree and decorations before I get home. I’m having a girl’s week with my friend M. She has a timeshare, and we’re using her points for a place up at Cedar Breaks Lodge. (Don’t ask me how timeshares and points work. All I know is that I owe her dinners, lift tickets, massages, and probably my firstborn. ) Continue reading The Mystery of the Fire (#107)

Curfew (#102)

How late was your curfew?
How late was your curfew?

When Andy stayed with my family the Christmas before we got married, he was shocked by how late my Baby Sister came home. She was my last sibling in high school. Her boyfriend dropped her off about 1:31 AM. We, of course, were still awake, thanks to the three-hour time difference between LA and New Hampshire. Andy strained chicken stock while I frosted cream cheese sugar cookies. Baby Sister told us good-night and helped herself to a cookie on the way upstairs.

After she went up to bed, Andy said, “Isn’t it kind of late?” Continue reading Curfew (#102)

Midnight Caller (#88)

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I’m a light sleeper. This is a great trait for fending off nocturnal predators. As there are no leopards in Los Angeles, waking at the slightest noise is now merely useful for moving a cat before it pukes on your new rug at 3 AM. Continue reading Midnight Caller (#88)