My Recurring Waking Stress Dream, In Which I Can’t Find the Babies

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Soon after the twins first came home, over six months ago, I began having a recurring waking dream. Here is how it unfolds:

It’s dark. I become aware that the babies are in bed with us. We’ve just finished feeding them. I reach toward them, but what I thought was a baby is just a lump in the covers. I can’t find the baby under all the covers. The baby is suffocating. I become increasingly frantic, looking for the baby, who must be somewhere buried, or has just slipped over the edge of the bed, until I finally at some point realize I am having my recurring waking dream. I look in the nursery and find the babies asleep in their cribs, as usual. 

This summer, as we somehow muddled through weeks on two or three non-consecutive hours of sleep per night, these waking dreams recurred on a regular basis. Later, when reading about sleep deprivation and hallucination, I attributed them to the lack of sleep. But though our sleep has increased to a respectable seven hours these days, the dreams have not gone away. Last night, I again woke D up, poking and prodding at the covers looking for babies. 

Last month, after our marathon Thanksgiving drive, I realized that I have a constant lurking sensation that I’ve forgotten something. Dropped a ball, let something slide I was supposed to do. Maybe that’s what the dream is reflecting, all those balls in the air. Twins. Life. 

The Exponentially Increasing Value of My Time

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I remember a time, not so long ago, when I didn’t factor my time into the value of things. A ticket to Shakespeare in the Park was “free” even though it meant waiting in line for four hours. A shirt from Daffy’s was a steal even though it meant a walk across town to the store and then searching through racks trying on clothes in unpredictable sizing until finally hours later emerging with a pair of designer mark-down pants.

Now that the time I have available to complete tasks has been reduced to precious few ticking-by minutes per day, I find myself prioritizing tasks based on the value of my time. Case in point:

I am an illustrator. I love drawing my babies. This morning it occurred to me that painting portraits of babies might be a nice way to make a little extra money at the holidays and get some illustration work. I am a member of a few local parent list servs, and on the spur of the moment I composed an email advertising watercolor portraits of babies or pets.

At first, in my mind, the text read: “Free! Limited time only! Send me a picture of your baby or pet and I’ll send you a 5 x 7 watercolor and a digital file to print onto cards, etc.”

Free advertising, I thought. Then after about a millisecond I reconsidered. Free? Really? But it will take TIME to do the portraits. I’ll say $10, I thought. Then as I was looking at that $10 next to the flashing cursor I thought, wait a minute, it will realistically take me at least an hour to do a portrait, and I am a perfectionist no matter what people pay. I deleted the 10 and put $20. Then I looked at the $20 and thought, that won’t even really cover my materials. $50. Then I looked at the $50 and thought, this is going to take all of my available time. I have about one hour each day, if I’m lucky, in which to complete tasks; is painting baby portraits going to take priority over applying to new jobs, cleaning (so I don’t feel bad about my life), eating, sleeping, maintaining contact with family and friends, hiring a babysitter, finding freelance writing work, paying bills, writing this blog? $60. $80 $100… And then I just deleted the whole thing.

Will I ever return to that place where time feels bountiful? Maybe when I retire. Right now I am like a time-hoarding miser. This morning one twin refused to fall asleep for her morning nap. She cried and cried. I was so resentful. Go to sleep! I said out loud to myself, grabbing my hair. This is my time! This is my only time! I am a stressy mess.

Last week I talked to my sister on the phone about the list of things to do keeping me from falling asleep at night. Her recommendation, “Start with the babysitter, that’s most important.” I think she’s probably right. One thing at a time. I will get through this.

Cuteness Break

Cuteness Break

Uploaded by Catherine M. Kunz "CK" on 10/9/06

Uploaded to Amazon by Catherine M. Kunz “CK” on 10/9/06

Need something distracting and happy? Customer images of baby items on Amazon are it. I’m telling you. The babies are cute. The parents are obviously proud. There are a lot of them and you can just click through. Here’s one of a baby and cat playing on the Gymini Activity Gym. Click the link for one of a baby with the goofy grin chewing on a giraffe. And another of a big brother playing with baby, and twins, and a baby sleeping on the gym, and…