Or so our government tells us. Admittedly, they're telling us so on overhead gantries on the motorway, in an effort to persuade us not to fall asleep at the wheel at 70mph, and instead to stop for an over-priced cup of burnt coffee and a plastic sandwich. They're not actually talking about the sleep-deprivation that only a parent with a sick child can understand. Or a newborn. Thank God I don't have one of those any more. And, according to one of my NCT friends, you can't actually die of sleep deprivation. Yes, she looked it up. It really was that bad.
Anyway, this particular tiredness has led to a firm believe that my son is now dangerously underweight and failing to thrive. He hasn't gained any weight in nearly a year, and has dropped from above the 50th centile in weight to below the 10th. It's all because I'm feeding him wrong. Fortunately, we have an appointment to see the nurse next week for his booster vaccinations, so I can get her to weight him on some decent scales, and talk to her about what if anything I can do. Panic mildly averted.
Let's back up a bit here shall we and find out where the tiredness comes into it, and why on earth I'm worrying about the weight of a fit, active, apparently healthy LittleBear.
Last weekend, you remember, when I was lying awake worrying about training Chinese engineers, I got myself a bit over-tired. Perhaps in part due to that, and in part due to LittleBear spending three days in a nursery, which is essentially the modern equivalent of a plague house, I came down with some nasty cough/cold type thing. And then BigBear caught it too. And then LittleBear. The cough. Oh, the cough.
One evening, I found myself sitting on the bottom step with my fingers in my ears, hysterically muttering "I can't stand it any more, I can't stand it any more, I can't stand it any more" as LittleBear sat in the living room coughing. Every cough made me want to scream "Shut up!! Stop bloody coughing!" Never mind that he couldn't help it, never mind that I was doing the same thing. The thought of being kept awake half the night by <cough>......... <cough cough>............ <cough>............. <cough cough cough> was pushing me over the edge. BigBear came to see if I was OK and was then forced to walk away as I was deranged, unreasonable and bad-tempered. He was in a lose-lose situation.
I think it was the previous night that I'd given up on sleeping in our bed at 2:30am and pulled on extra leggings and a fleece to go and "sleep" on the sofa with the cat on my feet. GrannyBear was in the spare bed, or I'd have gone there. On that occasion, it wasn't LittleBear coughing that had driven me out, it was BigBear. He coughs right next to me and is therefore much louder. And it makes the bed rock like a lifeboat from the Titanic. And he's definitely doing it on purpose. Just to keep me awake. The fact that I'm also coughing is completely irrelevant. My poor disease-ravaged body is convulsing in uncontrollable spasms of wracking coughing. He's coughing to annoy me. What? You want me to be reasonable at 2:30am?
The next night I discovered the magic that is Pholcodine Linctus. £1.20 for a bottle of joy. OK, so I perhaps should be careful about eulogising an opiate too much. Or even using an opiate too much. But it actually stops me coughing*. And it's a mild sedative. So when LittleBear and BigBear were both coughing in the night, I got up, poured Tixylix into LittleBear, Covonia into BigBear and myself back into bed. They both carried on coughing, and I just drifted back to sleep.
* Only use this for a dry cough, as it acts on your nervous system to stop the cough reflex, and if you've got gunk in you lungs you don't want to stop your body coughing it up. If you've just got a dry, tickly cough that's driving you stark, raving mad, it's the bees knees.**
** I'm not a doctor. Don't take any advice from me.
Apparently I snored as I drifted back to sleep, but without independent verification I think that's just a baseless rumour.
Did you know you can hear yourself snore? Me neither, but it turns out you can. Damn! I've given it away! OK, so I was snoring just a little bit. It was a disconcerting effect hearing myself snoring though. One of the things I love when I'm really tired is the sensation of falling asleep. It feels as though my inner self is drifting up and back, away from my body, and my physical body is becoming heavier. Everything appears to be getting smaller and more distant and my thoughts somehow feel fainter. It's a delicious feeling, made more so because it's so fleeting, so ephemeral, and so rare to catch. I don't notice it every time I fall asleep, only when I'm in the perfect state of relaxation and near-sleep. And in that nether-world, where I am neither fully awake, nor fully asleep, I cannot move. I think about moving. I think about reaching over to pick up the book that's just slid to the floor from my unresponsive hands. I think about willing my body to move, and yet the weight of my limbs pins them down.
And there I lay, pinioned to the bed by my own half-sleep, flat on my back, my mouth half-open and I heard the grating rasp of my in-breath and the whistling out-breath. So this is what I sound like when I'm snoring! I thought about rolling on to my side. I thought about closing my mouth. And I thought if it was too irritating BigBear would prod me to roll over, and since he hadn't it must be fine. And then I thought no more. Apparently it wasn't fine, but BigBear isn't as vindictively bad-tempered in the night as I am.
After three nights of stress-induced insomnia, 3 days of exhausting training sessions, blended with a week of coughing, of throbbing sinuses, of pounding headaches and of aching ears, I was more or less at breaking point. And it was then that LittleBear noticed the bathroom scales and wanted to be weighed. So I weighed him. And having done so, I thought I might as well write it down in his Little Red Book***. So, I flick through the pages and find the growth chart and try and plot his weight on it. And this is where the worrying starts. He appears to be the same weight as he was a year ago, and is now falling down the centiles. Aaaghhhhh! My poor baby, what am I doing wrong? How can he be failing to thrive when everything else about him seems to be fine? This explains why he's so much smaller than those other children at toddler group. Two of his little friends are massive compared to him (and Selective Data Recollection Syndrome allows me to ignore the dozens who are the same size). Fortunately I'm so exhausted I don't actually have enough energy at this point for any more substantial worrying, but the thought keeps creeping back in, "what if there's something wrong with my beautiful baby?"
*** Nothing to do with Chairman Mao, but a health record for small people in which growth records, immunisation records etc are maintained.
My cough starts to ease, I sleep a bit more, we have a lovely Easter with GrannyBear staying. LittleBear makes me laugh and smile with his "satiable curtiosity". I adore my LittleBear. I'm feeling better, and decide to have another look at that growth chart. This time, with my brain unscrambled, I plot the data point in the right place. Of course he's gained weight. He's smack on half way between the 50th and 75th centiles. Just like he's always been. He's fine. Just like he's always been.
Tiredness might not kill, but it does mess with my ability to plot a graph. Not quite such a catchy slogan, and definitely less use on a motorway gantry.