Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quitting Coffee (or "How am I going to make it through another day of parenting on very little sleep?")

For the first time in a really, really long time, I am attempting to live my days without coffee. I have acid reflux that flares badly when I drink coffee, causing me to wake up in the middle of the night several times each night, coughing because I have stomach acid in the back of my throat. It's a little like being in a constant state of almost throwing up. It's very unpleasant and I have become desperate enough to finally heed my doctor's advice to go two full months without drinking coffee to see if it makes a difference.

How much do I love my coffee? Let me give you a little bit of my history with coffee.

When I lived in LA a few years out of college, I lived with a household of four women who all drank coffee in the morning. We made a big pot of Folgers or Safeway brand or some other cheap coffee. Maurine, who was from Northern California, had to make her own espresso in a little metal percolator (I think from Italy) which she put directly on the stove. She and her Bay area friends were very into their coffee. Very. When we went to conferences, they brought their own coffee with their own french presses. We used to make fun of them.

Now, I am one of them. I live about 3 minutes from a Peet's coffee and about two minutes from a Philz coffee (which is amazing). I have become that suburban mom who has several cups of coffee in the morning and finds excuses to get a cup from a coffee shop in the afternoon as well. I have evangelized several friends on the multi-sensory delights of Blue Bottle Coffee (an "artisan coffee" which is only sold in a few places in the Bay area. I am told that they won't even sell it to you if you confess to the vendor that you are going to drink it later than a week after they have roasted it.) Yes, it is a unique, snobby, passionate, probably addicted coffee culture that I swim in and I have given myself completely to it. I love me my coffee.

I have to implicate my husband as well. For several years now, the first words that I often hear from my beloved's mouth in the morning is "Who's going to make the elixer!" And when I do (or he does) that lovely aroma of freshly brewed coffee envelops us with comfort and encouragement as we endure getting three grumpy children ready for the day.

A big element of my coffee history is my son's sleep issues. Josh was not allowed to sleep through the night for the first year of his life because he couldn't go that long without eating due to his "failure to thrive"/ low weight issues. But even beyond that, this was a child who had big troubles in the sleep department. When Josh was 5 we found out that he had obstructive sleep apnea so he had surgery to take out some of his tonsils and adenoids. It's been a long, long journey. Basically, until this past year, Josh woke up in the middle of the night 6 out of 7 nights a week crying and stimming for several hours. In the fall of 2006, I had a one year old who slept well, a newborn who woke up hourly, and a 4 year old autistic kid who screamed and cried from 2-5am every night. I rarely slept for more than 2 hours at a time and never more than 5 hours total. I am not kidding. Sleep was just not something that God seemed to be giving me.

How I survived, I have no idea. I think it was one part faith, one part survival instincts, and in large part, coffee. I could absolutely drink caffinated coffee at 9pm and fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was that constantly tired. This is definitely when coffee and I became very, very special friends.

Any of you parents of special needs kids out there feeling what I am saying? Anyone else turn to a little something chemical to help you make it through very long and challenging days? Maybe coffee? Maybe something else?

Currently, for the first time in many years, Josh sleeps through the night more often than not. . . and when he wakes up, he's usually pretty content to hang out in bed. In other words, my sleep is not horrible. My life is becoming more and more "not in crisis". We are slowly moving out of just surviving. There is a little bit of margin here and there, especially since the girls are in preschool.

But I was not yet ready to part from my beloved warm cup of energy. . . or so I thought.

It's been three weeks since I stopped coffee cold turkey. Shockingly, I still make it through my days. My life has not fallen apart. I am not completely void of energy as I feared that I would be. Could it be that I have a deeper source of energy than coffee?

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