Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Night Time is the Right Time…

It looks like after two previous pregnancies, one would encounter just about every possible side effect. Here is a new one. This started a week before we were even aware that Marcy was pregnant. About 2:00 AM one Monday morning, Marcy flings back the covers of the bed we share and leaps up. I begin struggling up from the deep sea that is my sleep. I slowly come to realize that Marcy is standing in the middle of the room, knees bent and her fingers clutched to her head like she is in pain.

Before I can even register alarm, she charges forward, shoulder slamming against the door frame of the bedroom door.

“HELLO?” she bellows to the house. Now, when I saw bellows, I mean she shouted louder than I may have ever heard her before. The sound alone was a wet slap to the face and it was my turn to spring up from the bed.

“HELLO?!” she screams again. She is already in the middle of the living room which means she must be at a near run. “HELLO?...HELLO?”

In my mind I can see the intruders who have bashed in the front door. We have heard about such things on the news. In the rough economy, home invasions are on the rise. Marcy must have heard them and is charging in and screaming so loudly because she is trying to spook them away. All of this goes through my mind in a nanosecond and turns my blood into ice water.

I hear her repeat that same word again, “HELLO?” and as I turn the corner, I see that the front door is in tact and we are alone in the house. Marcy is standing near the front entryway and turning in a circle, confused.

“Marcy, what’s wrong?,” I say and she looks at me without seeing me at all.

“I can’t find them,” she says near tears and then turns toward the kids hallway, as if about to rush down that hall. Then the reality of what is happening hits me: Marcy is sound asleep.

“Marcy,” I say in the most commanding voice I can assume. This is the voice I use when trying to get the kids to understand I am through playing and I am serious. They call it the ‘Daddy Voice’. “You are having a dream.”

She nearly cries then and confusedly explains she was dreaming that someone had come and taken the kids away and she could not find them. It was such a frightening experience that it was the next day before either one of us found any amusement from it at all.

The truth of the matter is that these night wanderings have a bizarre dual nature. Being woken up from deep sleep by any event can be jarring to the psyche. I remember when we were kids, someone claimed that, even in sleep, one can be aware that they are being stared at. We tried out our little scientific hypothesis – and I encourage anyone else who wants to duplicate this with a loved one to try this out for yourselves – by waiting until my father was taking a nap on the couch and then staring intently at him until he woke up. Even this little thing, waking up and finding a strange child staring at you, is psychologically grating, as evidenced by the way my father’s eyes bulged out and his mouth worked furiously as he chased us from the house.

Even as upsetting as being woken up abruptly in the middle of presumed danger can be, there is a funny side as well. There is comedy to imagining the large man leaping up, boxers askew, and falling from the bed. There is something very Dick Van Dyke about the idea of a possible night time pratfall.

Since the “HELLO?” incident, there have been a number of other events. And here, for your edification and amusement are just a few of the recent highlights:

One night I found her putting on her shorts. When I asked her where she was going, she said that Nana was coming for the babies. I told her it was midnight and she shrugged and came back to bed. I never found out why her mother was coming to take the babies away.


One night, I rolled over to get out of bed and visit the facilities when her arm shot out of the darkness and grabbed my wrist. “Shhhhhhh” she whispered, “can’t you see the spaceship?”

“No,” I whispered. Sometimes I find it fun to play along and see where it goes.

She raised her hand and pointed into the air, roughly in the direction of our ceiling fan. “It’s the red one,” she whispered ominously, “shoot it!” and then she promptly fell back to sleep.

One morning, my alarm went off at 3:30. I had to get a flight to Houston so I had to make sure I was awake on time. Before I could get up to turn off the alarm – really before the thing had had a chance to beep more than once or twice – she rolled over violently and slapped me right in the middle of the chest and said in a glorious deadpan: “Alarm!” As near as I can tell, my sternum must have been the snooze button.

Late one night, I hear an awful ruckus on Marcy’s side of the bed. We have two tall windows on either side of the bed. They are covered with standard, rental house vertical blinds. The cat likes to sit in the windows and peer through them at night. Sometime, if she sees a bug and attempts to skit it, this can cause the blinds to jostle and rattle. On this night, I hear the blinds rattling and I sit up, preparing to yell at the cat (a futile gesture if ever there was one) but it is not the cat, it’s Marcy.

She is bent over almost in half. Her hand is stuck in the blinds and is holding open a large hole to look through. Marcy’s face is hovering over the hole as she scans the neighbor’s house suspiciously. The blinds are a mess. It looks like she may have done this several times already.

“Sweetie,” I say carefully, “what’s going on?”

She steps back from the window and glares down at me. She looks to be near tears. “There are noises everywhere,” she said.

I laid there, my sleep-drunk mind wrestling briefly with the simple philosophical truth in the statement. “I think you are dreaming again,” I said.

“I swear I heard noises everywhere,” she said and she suddenly pulled open the blinds again and glared outside, daring the unseen but noisy ninja to present himself.

“Do you want me to go check it out,” I said.

“No,” she said, shoulders slumped as she got back in bed. I could tell by her tone of voice that she was fully awake again and a little embarrassed and frustrated. “I already looked out of every window and checked all of the doors…and the back yard…and the garage.”

In this one, I did not wake up because I was exhausted from not sleeping through the other nights, but according to Marcy, she had a nightmare one night that she had had a baby and brought it home and that it was sleeping in the bed with us.

She woke up in a panic because she suddenly could not find the baby. She was stripping the bedding off of her bed when she woke up and sheepishly covered me back up and went back to sleep.

Early yesterday, I woke up and was slipping out of bed, when Marcy rolled over and patted me gently on the back.

“Watch out for the animals out there,” she said happily, “there on a mission to exterminate everything.”

Like the other side effects that we have encountered, I hope that this one will fade away soon enough. I think that the both of us will need a few nights with full rest if we are to have the energy to run after our little dream babies.

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