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In Sickness and in Sleep (or Lack Thereof)

Why we were exhausted all week

A while back in The Brookline Parent, I noted that a common theme of some of my columns . At first, I felt a little self-conscious about this realization, but when I mentioned to someone that I had written five columns on sleep, her response was, “Only five?” I took that as a good sign; obviously, this is a topic that can be plumbed over and over again for fresh insights.

Or revisited simply because, yet again, I’m exhausted.

Why am I so tired? Let us cast our minds back to last weekend. On Friday, Muffin was cranky and in the afternoon developed a slight fever. Nomi and the babysitter gave Muffin some children's ibuprofen — against Muffin's strenuous objections — and the fever soon went away. At first, that seemed to set the tone for the weekend, as the kids were okay throughout Friday night and Saturday, but little did we know what would transpire next.

On Sunday we took Muffin and Squeaker to the . As a Library Trustee, I try to march with the other Trustees in the parade when I can, and this year we decided to make it a family event. Nomi came as well, and as I pushed the stroller right behind the banner held by my fellow Trustees, Nomi handed out bookmarks to spectators. The weather was a little warm, but with the occasional shade and breeze it made for a nice day to march. The girls seemed to enjoy the parade quite a bit.

After we returned home, I went out again to check out the , and when I got home Nomi told me that Squeaker had spit up some apple juice. We figured it was mostly due to her having drunk a lot of cold liquid after coming in from the heat, but later she developed a fever. I bribed her with jellybeans to get her to take some children’s ibuprofen, and after a while the fever went down.

Sunday night – well, technically it was Monday morning, as it was already after midnight – Squeaker woke up wailing, which in turn woke up Muffin. Nomi and I know the girls' cries well. Some of their cries are soft calls into the night, which soon fade back into silence. But other times their cries become piercing shrieks, and we know that we can’t just leave them alone to drift back into dreamland.

This was one of those times. We went to get the girls and to comfort them, and we spent two hours trying to figure out how to get them to go back to sleep.

In general, Squeaker is much better at this than Muffin. In fact, true to form, Squeaker wanted to lie down and get back to sleep, but Muffin continued to sniffle and cry and wail and wander around, unwilling to do whatever it was she needed to get back to sleep. We offered her the chance to sleep on the floor, and she tried it for a few minutes and then got up. We tried to get her settled back into her crib, but to no avail. Eventually, we did that thing you’re not supposed to do and brought both kids into our bed with us. Squeaker understood and was ready to fall back asleep, but Muffin kept squirming and disturbing the rest of us.

Do you see the irony here? It was the healthy kid, and not the one who had been sick, that kept us up all night. Somewhere around two in the morning, though, we all managed to fall back asleep.

And then we were woken by Squeaker at 6:13 a.m. She was feeling sick again, and... Well, there's no genteel way to say this, so I'll just say it: Over the course of the next two hours, she threw up a few times. (At least she knows how to ask for and use a basin.) We decided we needed to take her to the doctor, and to our surprise Squeaker was in complete agreement about this, asking over and over to go see the doctor.

So later that morning, we took her to see her pediatrician, Dr. Marshall Reiner at Pediatric Associates on Beacon Street. She acted a little scared while there but generally was willing to be examined. Dr. Reiner concluded what we had assumed, which is that she had a virus of some sort and we should keep giving her medicine and electrolytes.

As we were about to leave the doctor’s office, Squeaker reminded us that she needed to get a lollipop or else the visit would not be complete. Now here's the funny thing. Up until that point, Squeaker was listless, lethargic, and scared. Once she got her lollipop, though, she told us that she felt better. In fact, the moment she got home she insisted on eating some watermelon, which stayed down. Later that day, the babysitter told us that when Squeaker awoke from her nap, she was starving and ate a huge linner. (Well, what else do you call a meal between lunch and dinner?)

As I write these words, Muffin and Squeaker are both feeling happy and energetic, while Nomi and I are still suffering the effects of the lack of sleep from early in the week. I’m hoping the day will come soon when this lack of sleep is but a distant memory.

In the meantime: no more parades for Squeaker.

This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.

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