Sleep Deprivation and Its Consequences

Meg and Josh, alive and well today and above ground at a cemetery.

Before I begin this post, I just want you to rest assured that my kids are still breathing and somehow managed to make it through infancy with a Panda Mom like me. It’s amazing that I also made it alive through the long, tortuous period of sleep deprivation. How do other parents do it?

My firstborn was finally out of the newborn phase, now a plump 3-month old. I was starting to get the hang of this new season in my life known as motherhood and getting used to sleeping in 90-minute chunks…sort of. Josh, being a slow and inefficient nurser, demanded a 30-minute feeding session every two hours. He also contractually demanded that I be sitting up while I fed him rather than lying down, which precluded me from drifting to sleep while nursing (which, mercifully, Meg allowed me to do when she was born two years later, but that’s another post). At least I learned the sprinkling system pattern at our apartment complex and when the newspaper was delivered each morning in the wee hours.

“I can do this mom thing,” I said confidently to myself as I hoisted the loaded car seat into the back of my Toyota 4-Runner. I opened the garage door to welcome in the sunny Southern California morning. I strapped myself into the driver’s seat, and I even touched up my lipstick in the rear view mirror which reflected a just-fed, sleeping bundle of joy. I figured I had about an hour to run my errands. I turned on the ignition and put my car in reverse.


The loud noise of two cars colliding startled me out of my momentary peace, and I turned around to witness something really, really horrible:

I had backed into my husband’s Acura Integra.

“Why did he park his car there?!” was my first reaction. Then I realized that I didn’t bother looking beyond my baby in the rear view mirror. “How am I going to explain this one?” was my next thought. I got out of the car to examine the damage, which looked extensive on both ends. Time to call 21st Insurance.

“You’ll be surprise to know that this occurs more often than you think,” the insurance agent reassured me on the phone. While that helped alleviate the pain and embarrassment of this incident just a little, it still was a costly mistake. I told them that I could sue the other driver, but this agent had no sense of humor.

I read on AAA Foundation’s website a sobering fact: “Some studies have found people’s cognitive-psychomotor abilities to be as impaired after 24 hours without sleep as with a BAC of 0.10%, which is higher than the legal limit for DWI conviction in all US states.” We are drunk with sleep deprivation! Maybe those obnoxious “Baby on Board” signs on cars are really there to warn everyone around them that a mom is driving under the influence of no sleep.

Translated: Warning! Mom has not slept in 3 months!

Okay, you might be mortified to know what an idiot this Panda Mom could be. But maybe some of you have a story that can top mine. Would you please share it in the comments here below to help me feel a little better about myself? Thank you.