Let’s talk exhaustion. Not the “my baby has been sick” exhaustion, not the “I couldn’t sleep last night” exhaustion. Not even the, “I’m an insomniac exhaustion”. Dare I say, not even the “I have a newborn” exhaustion. I can compare the exhaustion I’m talking about to all of the ones I just listed because I’ve experienced those. Each and every one of them. As exhausting and frustrating those days were, it’s nothing like the exhaustion I want to talk about. I read old Facebook posts of mine that talk about how exhausted I was from my insomniac days and I laugh as I wish I could go back to that exhausted feeling. I want to talk about the exhaustion parents who have children with special needs experience.
Whenever I say I’m exhausted my husband will ask if I didn’t sleep well. This exhaustion goes so deep that it has nothing to do with how much these moms slept the night before. During waking hours their brains are constantly thinking about the different needs of their child, whether those needs are being met, is there something more they can be doing to help them, are they being safe at school, are they being bullied, are they hurting anyone, what is going to them when I die…the list goes on. Then there’s the rigorous schedule that these parents need to keep up with that includes therapies, doctor appointments and so on. Then if your child is a high energy child and is constantly on the move (like Courtney) then the parent is constantly on the move because if you take your eye off them, who knows what they will get into.
Now the things listed above are all exhausting. Sleep issues are very common in children with autism. This on top of the day to day stresses can be debilitating. These sleep issues with some of these kiddos are intense. Some have a hard time sleeping, some have a hard time staying asleep and some struggle with both. When I say struggle falling asleep, I mean they are up past midnight. When I say have a hard time staying asleep, I mean waking up in the middle of the night and then up for good AND likely on the go during this time. I think what is hardest about this compared to having a newborn is you expect it with a newborn and you know there will eventually be an end. There is typically no end in sight when it comes to a child with special needs and sleep issues.
As for me…yep, I’m that exhausted. I’ve been really feeling it lately. Is Courtney in a rough patch with sleeping? We had a tough week or so but it’s getting better. But it’s been a lot worse in the past. That’s why I say it’s so much more than not getting sleep. It’s the needing the constant watch, it’s the endless worry, it’s non stop schedule. Oh, and I have a second child too and if you’ve met Alyssa, you will understand that’s a whole other level of exhaustion…lol.
But as exhausted as I am, my love for my family will always keep me going. I guess I can say, I’ll sleep when I’m dead…