Sunday, November 6, 2011
Talk About A Rude Awakening
Railings were put up the next afternoon.
In comparison to my brother’s nocturnal misadventures, a few sentences mumbled in my sleep were really quite mild. Oh, I did have a few bouts here and there that revealed my proclivity towards drama even in dreams. When I was fifteen, during our family’s trip out West, I was sleeping against the side of the ’70s popup camper when a zipper brushed my cheek and I thought I was trapped inside a suitcase. I sat up and started frantically unzipping everything, trying to claw my way out of the camper, until my best friend put a hand on my shoulder and gently rocked me awake.
In college my roommates were often entertained by my one-sided conversations in the dark that revealed more than what I confided to them during the day, and if my roommates tried to hold a conversation with me that unveiled even more, I -- uninhibited -- would let them enter my dreams, and we would chat with each other like were discussing the weather over a pot of tea.
After I married, my sleep talking increased quite substantially. I don’t know if my bare leg kept brushing my husband’s furry one or what exactly occurred, but he and I hadn’t been hitched two months when I leapt straight up out of the covers like I had strings attached to my back and screamed, “MOUSE!”
My husband jolted upright. Blindly smacking his hands against the dresser, he finally found the lamp and pulled the string. That is when he saw his newly wedded bride with hair all over her head, a la Mr. Rochester’s mad wife, prancing in place and screaming, “Mouse! There’s a mouse!”
Not knowing any better because I hadn’t warned him that I could be dramatic in my sleep, my poor husband believed me. Plus, I seemed so awake. I was talking coherently (okay, screaming coherently), and even as a minute passed, the panicked glaze would not leave my eyes.
“Where is it?” he calmly asked.
I pointed to a clump in the bed.
Taking a deep breath, my husband charged across the covers. He pounced like Tom on Jerry, trying to trap the pesky little varmint beneath his hands, but there was nothing there.
He looked up at me. I looked down at him. “Don’t move,” I whispered. “There’s a whole nest of them!”
Groaning, my husband staggered to the top of the bed and climbed beneath the covers. “There’s no mouse,” he mumbled, pulling the pillow up around his ears. “Go to sleep.”
The next four months, although nothing could compare to the mouse incident, I did have dreams that there were puppies in our bed, spiders, and I would have fluent conversations in English or Spanish (I don't really speak Spanish) until my husband shook my shoulder and told me I was sleep talking again. But once I became accustomed to having someone share my bed (and my covers!), the talking in my sleep settled down. If I ate late or watched or read something that disturbed me, I would often solve the world's problems in my dreams, yet these episodes over two and a half years of marriage were really quite rare.
Then I got pregnant.
During the first trimester, when I could still sleep on my stomach and Baby Girl wasn’t thrashing around like a fish, I could sleep undisturbed. But the bigger she grew and the more active she became (think Thing One and Thing Two trapped in the space the size of a soccer ball), the more difficult it was to tumble into slumberland. I dreamt that Baby Girl was born as slippery as a butterball turkey, and I would keep trying to bathe her in the sink and she would shoot across the room. I dreamt that my husband and I were riding in a car that veered off the interstate and sailed across the sky. I dreamt of spiders again and after watching something on snakes, I dreamt about them, too. The more active my baby became in my womb, the more active my dreams until I awoke as tired as when my head hit the pillow.
My husband started sleeping with one eye open, his arms poised to grab even when he was half-awake, for often these dreams of bathing our child and riding in a car that could also fly were acted out until my husband feared I would lunge off the stage of our bed and hurt myself.
I had no idea how deeply my husband’s paranoia about my sleep situation ran until the other night when I stayed up late reading. I will often do this as it helps me to unwind and replenish the imaginative juices I have drained throughout the day. I love to pull the covers over my head in a creative cocoon and angle the flashlight so that the beam floods the page and splashes across the sheets, then read until my frequent yawns keep me from being able to discern the words.
I don’t know if my husband heard me clap my book closed and this awoke him, but when I started hauling my body out of bed, he bolted upright and wrapped his arms around me.
“Honey?” he rasped, thinking I was going to take a swan dive off the bed into an imaginary sea or something. "You okay?"
Laughing a little, I said, “I’m fine.”
But my husband wouldn’t let go. “You’re sure you’re awake?” he asked, somewhat skeptically.
“Yes,” I said, untwining myself from his arms. “I’ve gotta go the bathroom.”
He said, “Okay,” but he still kept one hand on my back while I got off the bed.
The next morning, when my husband and I awoke, I looked over at him and patted my stomach. “Ugh. I don’t think I’m going to sleep sound until after this baby’s born.”
He laughed. “I don’t think you’re going to sleep very sound then either.”
Groaning, I pulled the covers back over my head. Talk about a rude awakening.