Along came LO.
Though people tell you about the sleepless nights and the serious brain drain that results, it never really prepares you for the reality of it. Sometime around October, I started asking J to leave me a little coffee every morning to help me get over the sleep hump. (Because if you add enough half and half and sugar to steeped charcoal, and it tastes like coffee ice cream. Works for me).
J rejoiced. He has long considered me broken for refusing coffee and beer, the two substances without which he cannot live. While I always thought he'd like it that there was more of these substances for him, he was of the opinion that if he was going to have a crippling vice, that I should definitely share it with him.
Long about November, LO got pukier and we realized that along with cranium size, nose, and tendencies for impressive destruction, LO had also inherited J's childhood dairy allergy. That made it much more difficult for a breastfeeding mama to make coffee palatable. I tried using almond milk, chocolate almond milk and extra sweetener to make the steeped charcoal something I could stomach, but it was for naught.
About that time, one of the local stores was having a sale on 24 packs of Coke Zero. I got into the habit of having a Coke with breakfast, which is just about as gross as it sounds. But the sweet hum of caffeine was uninterrupted in my bloodstream. I was able to finish to do lists in a single bound. (If by a single bound you mean over a week to complete five items, not counting the one that I procrastinated on until it became moot). But the day did not feel like a long nap punctuated by short bursts of exhaustion. I had become a caffeine drinker.
Then in January, after a hedonistic day of excess, including the wanton devouring of half a pineapple and three grapefruit halves, we realized that LO seemed to have an allergy to citrus. It made sense. His father was allergic to citrus as a child, to the point that touching pineapple would give him a rash, despite the fact that pineapple is not a citrus fruit and I will maintain that to the death even if the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. (Pineapple is not citrus; it is G-d's candy.) In addition to dairy being off limits, I was now reduced to only apples, pears, melon, berries, peaches, grapes, plums and bananas for my fruit snacking pleasure. It's a wonder I survived.
If you've been reading this blog for the past couple of weeks, you'll notice a decided overarching theme to my oeuvre: sleep. Or rather, LO's lack of sleep. If you are the sum of your thoughts on any given day, then lately I am concern over nap time and curiosity as to how to get J to change LO's next diaper. Our terrible sleeper has gone from being a fairly good night sleeper who often has two good naps per day to a kicking/constantly nursing/wakeful/screaming/pink-eyed bundle of wired nerves that WILL NOT SLEEP. Ever. Not at night. Not during the day. Not while snuggling. Not while swinging. He will not sleep here nor there. He will not sleep anywhere.
Admittedly, I can be a little slow on the uptake, particularly when it means I have to give up something else that I like, but it took me a painful amount of time to connect my newfound Coca-Cola habit to LO's recent wakefulness. Here's the thing: as I was guzzling Coke Zero with the depravity of a caffeine-addled Elizabeth Berkley in an extra-special episode of Saved By the Bell, I repeatedly told J the story of my first experience with coffee. (Because I'm a story repeater. Those of you who know me and love me anyway, I thank you! It's not intentional.)
Apparently, when I was quite small, my Grandma Betta was drinking a cup of coffee and I wanted some. So she got out a teaspoon and let me take a taste. According to my parents, I was still orbiting other planets nearly a week later, so we had a hard-and-fast clear sodas ONLY rule in my house. I was nearly 20 before I felt like I was grown up enough to order a Coke with my takeout.
So, I can't blame J for LO's apparent caffeine sensitivity. This one is all me. That one Coke per day that has been getting me through lethargic afternoons for months has apparently transferred itself to LO through the medium of Mom's Kitchen, and has built up in his blood stream until the little darling is pretty much incapable of falling asleep.
The really sad part, now that we have figured this out, is that I will have to go without caffeine for a few days while he's still completely wired. If you hear me snarling at any point in the next few days, please know that I'm just going through symptoms of withdrawal. I should theoretically be back to normal once the munchkin is again sleeping.
Heaven help us all.