• It Was a Tough Habit to Kick

    by Theresa Reichman

    I used to be a heavy sleeper. Until I had kids. Maternal instinct doesn’t have an “off” switch, so even in the dead of night, if one of my babies hiccupped, I’d be hovered over her crib in an instant. During the newborn stage, it was a super power that I cherished. However, after awhile it became tiresome to be wide awake every time the baby stirred in her crib. And so, I became an addict. My drug of choice?

    White noise.

    It started organically in the summertime. With the air conditioner humming, I slept through the child who rolled over in her sleep, but my eyelids snapped open the moment I heard her utter a cry. And so, as the feverish summer temperatures dipped into the bearable, I let the fan linger. The naked sheets were covered with comforters, and still the machine droned on. Until my husband opened the electric bill.

    “This has got to stop.” He pointed to the numbers.

    Yikes. I felt Mother Nature’s finger wagging at me and decided it was time to suck it up and break my little addiction.

    And I tried. I really, really tried. I would toss and turn while my husband peacefully slumbered beside me, and my children slept soundly. But sleep wouldn’t visit me. An hour ticked by. Then two. Then three. Then I’d reach over and “click.” Hummmmm. Sleep.

    After waking up the disapproving look from my husband and the ozone layer on a number of occasions, one day my husband walked in the door from work with a little box in his hand. The clear box was filled with spongy pink earplugs.

    “What’s this?” I asked.

    “The solution,” he said.

    And it was. Those cushiony little buds worked wonders. I had some of the best sleep I’d ever had in my whole life, and they passed the fussing baby test. I could hear my baby’s whiny cry even with my cherished pink jewels in place (although by this point, 3 a.m. parties in the crib were nil).

    I had been sporting my nightly ear bling for a year and a half when I went to California last week. I had toted my laptop, camera, cell phone (and all of their chargers), a week’s worth of clothing, reading material, my razor, toothbrush and other such toiletries. But the one thing I forgot? Yep. You got it. The invaluable earplugs.

    To say that I was a bit distressed is a major understatement. Like any addict, I tried to hide just how big of a deal this really was. It started with a “Crap, I forgot my earplugs.” And when no one really batted an eye, I reinforced, “I can’t believe I forgot those!” Desperately hoping someone else would share my same obsession and assure me, “Earplugs?! Why of course! We have earplugs out the wazoo here!”


    Throughout the course of the first day, anytime anyone mentioned going anywhere in town I would casually inquire, “Do you think they sell earplugs?” To which they would reply…

    “I don’t think pizza places sell those….”

    “I don’t think the market sells those…”

    “I don’t think the liquor store sells those…”

    So that night, I lay in bed as the patio doors were pelted with an obscene amount of rain. The wind whistled and rushed by. Dude, a freaking bush blew over in the night. No joke. The cat mewed, the clocks ticked and I was certain I wouldn’t sleep a wink the entire week.

    But then I woke up. And I woke up rested. Apparently when jet-lag and noise duke it out in a sleep battle, jet-lag takes the prize.

    Every night I would wait for the sleeplessness to set in, and not once did sleep let me down. And so here I am. My name is Theresa, and I have gone 10 nights without earplugs.

    I’m not out of the woods yet. I still keep a pair on my bedside table. Sort of like when I was a kid and I kept a cup of water there. You know — in case the Wicked Witch of the West came and I needed to douse her. I’m locked and loaded, and ready for sleeplessness to return. But I never did really need that dousing water, anyway.

      • David Lacy

      • April 6, 2011 at 6:57 am
      • Reply

      I love this.

      Oh, and you like Theresa’s stuff but didn’t see her last piece, go into the archives and pull up “Tearing Away the Plastic.” AMAZING piece. One of the best ever on this site, imo.

      • Christy

      • April 6, 2011 at 7:10 am
      • Reply

      Hahaha, I remember the first ounce of sleep I got when we came home with Noah…his cry was like a rocket launch to my soul…I couldn’t believe how quickly I woke up!

      OMG, Wizard of OZ is my favorite movie, and I have always slept with multiple glasses of water by my bed, it’s my thing, and I’ve never known why I do this….I GET IT! I too am just being prepared for the Wicked Witch!! Thanks for the enlightenment! =)

      • Norbie Kumagai

      • April 6, 2011 at 11:45 am
      • Reply

      When our daughter Shannon was 3, she came into my bedroom in the middle of the night (I was separated at the time) and said “Daddy!” I immediately woke up from a solid sleep and jumped out of bed.

      “Do you need help going to the bathroom??” “Nope, I Went Already” was Shannon’s reply.

      “Where Did You Go??” “In The Bathroom Daddy!!”

      “So Why Did You Wake Me Up??” “I Just Wanted To See How Quickly You Would Jump Out Of Bed!!” Shannon responded as she walked back to her bedroom laughing all the way… Never really did get much sleep after that.

    • SUCH a cute column! Like Christy, your progress over the last year just blows me away! You have a writer’s heart, Theresa. It’s something you either have or don’t. It’s not something you can teach. You have it! Soooo… proud of you!

      In other news… guess what… the Chevron station that’s nearly right across the street from where we live has the earplugs right there on the front counter…. 99 cents! Next time you’ll know.

      But next time… maybe you won’t need them!

      • Judy

      • April 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm
      • Reply

      Fun column! I kicked the white noise–my husband finds it really annoying–but not the plugs. I’m buying a new box for my trip to Italy–vespas!

    • You should try sleeping at our house. There is a refrigerator unit on top of the bldg across the street that goes WWWWWAAAA WWWWWAAAA MMMM MMMM WWWWAAAA! Two semi trucks park a block away and go past our house at 4 in the morn. The rev their engines until the pressure is built up for their brakes. A tavern down the block plays shitty music until 1 AM 3 nights a week. Air force jets fly over to land at Travis AFB. My wife snores, and I fart.
      Try your ear plugs on that.

    • Theresa, so glad you have had 10 days. I hope there are many more to follow. Just think with all the money you save you can buy yourself something for a job well done.

      • Pappap

      • April 14, 2011 at 9:37 pm
      • Reply

      Ear plugs!! Yeah, I have that. Only my ear plugs are so I CAN hear. Another good one Theresa. You are on a role!! Love You!

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