During my first few months of parenthood, in the early hours of a Saturday morning, I learned a valuable life lesson.
Sleep deprivation is a cruel and funny thing. It is a common form of torture used to make its victim crumble and succumb to confusing delirium. We know that parents voluntarily accept this as a part of raising our little ones, but the hilarity of the resulting outcome (not particularly amusing at the time, but certainly juicy for the retelling) makes forever memories.
My most epic blunder happend on one unseasonably warm morning in May.
After a few rough nights with our newborns, we settled in with trepidation hoping for more sleep. However, our usually quiet street suddenly became a racing track for the neighbourhood hoons (I exaggerate, but that's what it seemed like at the time).
After a few runs of the street, bursting their loud muffler outside our bedroom window, a red-eye fury took hold of me and I became a desperate mummy vigilante.
Should I go and stand on the side of the road, stare them down and be really obvious in taking a photo of their car? My imagination ran wild... they must be doing time trials, or perhaps they had lost their licence and in order to avoid being caught, they were racing around the suburbs instead of the main roads. Yes, that was it. Otherwise, why else would you be up and intentionally awake at 3am?! And why wasn't there a single phone number to connect everyone in our street to stand in this character's way to pull him out of his car and bring them to justice?
The delusions worked me up into a frenzy until I decided action needed to be taken. My husband told me to go back to sleep as I stood at the window peeping through the blinds hoping to get a glimpse of the offender. They were keeping me awake when I so desperately needed sleep and I was afraid they would cause the babies to stir again too.
I crept into the lounge room and quietly called our nearest police station and got a voicemail. They asked me which department I wanted I said 'Police' (yes, I'm laughing at myself in the harsh light of day) and left my name and number. Then, I thought I should just call the emergency line to get a resolution, as was my right as a tax paying citizen.
I called, asked for the Police and then suddenly I realised the gravity of the request. I have never had to call emergency services before and all the possible scenarios of the calls they must be fielding on this evening flashed through my mind. I knew this call was probably an extreme over-reaction, so I hung up and went to bed. My husband asked me what I had done and I said I called the Police, but realised it was stupid. He grunted in agreement and rolled over.
Five minutes later, without a sound, a torch light shone in our bedroom window and I nudged my husband awake Ė what WAS that?! He thought I had somehow aggravated the hoons and now they had come looking for trouble. There was a loud knock on the door, which he groggily opened, to find two highly alert female police officers standing firm with hands-on weaponsÖ and then he 'shushed' them. I kid you not. I was aghast. Did he just do that? They were clearly unimpressed. He tried to explain about the sleeping infants only a few metres away and then trailed off when he realised the futility of his argument.
They said they had received a call from our address and someone had hung up. My wonderful husband had no trouble throwing me under the bus and calling me outside to talk to them myself. I sheepishly came out into the porch light and watched their eyes check over my face, arms and legs. I then saw how stupid I had been and the sorts of calls these officers would be responding to where the caller had rung in desperation and hung up for self-preservation.
I feebly explained the reason for my call and received a very brusque dressing down to never call emergency and then hang up unnecessarily. They also outlined for me all the logical reasons why the emergency services were not the ones to call when seeking someone to investigate a loud driver around your neighbourhood, all of which I would have been able to deduce for myself had I not been drunk with exhaustion. I received my lesson. Police Stations are not manned for general calls outside of work hours. Emergency Services are only to be called for emergencies. But there is another option: to call the independent Police Assistance line for general support where required. Lesson received loud and clear. Not without significant embarrassment on my part for wasting the time of two highly valuable people protecting the community I live in.
I can only imagine the story back at the station and hang my head a little bit in shame. I will never forget my lesson learnt and hope for the retelling that it sheds a light on how to appropriately access the services available for assistance.
What blunders have you made from sleep deprivation?
Every pregnancy is incredible in its own way. However, I would be lying if I said that seeing those two little lines while my 7-month-old sat screaming at my feet, didn't induce more than just the usual first-trimester nausea. If you are currently frantically Googling, I can reassure you this, you have got this Mumma.
Don't feel too bad. Okay, the worst thing I did while sleep-deprived with Little C was put the milk in the cupboard and the vegemite in the fridge, but it happens to us all.
The sleep deprivation that comes with newborns muddles our brains so much that I wonder where we went wrong on the evolutionary path to have babies that drive us to such depths LOL It's not exactly ideal for survival now, is it?