Before I got pregnant and birthed Jack, I never thought much about being tired. This doesn't mean I hadn't been tired before. Back in Brooklyn I arrived at a bread bakery in a seedy part of Long Island City very early twice a week, trudging through the dark streets as prostitutes headed home for the day, their work done. And when I worked at Farley's more often than not I was up at 5 am for the early shift. I have been pleasantly tired by many "day" hikes and completely exhausted with a few hard all-day hikes. A few times returning west from the Sierra on my motorcycle, I recall struggling with the oncoming glare from the sunset and body fatigue, feeling completely beat.
Then I had Jack, and learned the limits of exhaustion and the many shades of tired. There was early pregnancy sleepiness, late pregnancy get-up-every-hour-and-pee-in-the-night and stop-kicking-me-in-the-spleen weariness, and then total exhaustion during the last stage of labor, when I found I could no longer push all the way through the contractions.
Directly after delivery I suppose pain (and terror) were stronger than fatigue, but as my body recovered and I learned to trust that Jack would keep breathing even when I wasn't watching, pure exhaustion set in. I remember sitting in the pediatrician's waiting room trying to fill out paperwork with Hans, the both of us laughing as we struggled to accomplish the simple task. There were countless days splattered with the tears of sheer sleeplessness. For the most part, Jack has been a very healthy baby and toddler, sparing us anxious nights of stomach flu or ear aches, but it was still tough to get up every few hours and breastfeed him for well over a year. I recall attempting to read to him many times when I was so tired I couldn't register the words on the page. I knew what they were, but I couldn't get them out of my mouth. I would start a conversation with Hans but abandon it because I was just too tired to explain something. And worst of all, when I was really really tired, was the total body wipe out. Then I felt my body vibrating slightly, as if I was running 60 miles an hour in 1st gear.
These days Jack sleeps through the night and I suppose I would call myself well-rested (ha). But all it takes is one bad night, waking up at 4 and unable to sleep, or kept up in the wee hours by our slacker neighbors, and I'm back dragging myself through the day. Ah well, you know the name of this blog, right?