It happened again.
It's the third night in a row, always the same.
I wake up at 1am wrapped in a blanket that is completely soaking wet, heavy across my chest, clinging to my skin in the cool night air. My head rests on a pillow that is lumpy and sour, absorbing everything like a sponge. I feel trapped. Claustrophobic. I stand, and sweat puddles at my feet, running from my collarbone straight down my stomach, trickling from the backs of my knees along my calves to my ankles, my hair dripping onto my shoulders and rivulets coursing down my back.
It is disorienting, to wake in this state. You know those dreams you had as a kid (or when you were in college, or last week......whatever, who the hell am I to judge) where you dream you are in the bathroom peeing and you wake up and find you wet the bed in your sleep? I feel like I am in the shower. I stand for a moment, swaying slightly, trying to get my bearings in the dark with Sam and the baby snoring softly and the breeze rustling the blinds.
All I want to do is go back to bed. I am so tired. But my bed is........not usable. At least, my side of the bed isn't. I stand there a moment longer, embarrassed, frustrated, disgusted, drained. I lick my lips, which feel as dry and parched as my throat. Water is beaded on my upper lip just below my nose.
Fumbling my way across the hallway to the linen closet, I pull out a bathmat and a beach towel. Back in the bedroom, I peel back the blanket from my side of the bed. I spread the bathmat out over my mattress. I dry myself off the best I can with the beach towel, then try to wrap it around myself enough to keep me from shivering. It's a cool night, and there is a breeze. Goosebumps are prickling my arms. My damp hair is clinging to my neck. I lay down quietly, trying not to disturb Sam. He woke up last night and tried to help, but I was so self-conscious.....I just hope he sleeps through this time around. I catch myself holding my breath, listening to make sure his breathing is still slow and steady. Eventually, I stop shivering and fall asleep.
The baby wakes at 3. I sit up, disoriented again. Still. At least I'm not dripping. I reach for my bathrobe, which is clean and dry thank god. I wrap the flannel around my waist and hurry over to the bassinet. Sam stirs and rolls over. Close - but not all the way over - to my side of the bed. I wince, hoping he doesn't go any further towards the center of our mattress. Praying he won't wrap his arms around me and bury his face in the back of my neck when I come back to bed.
I change the baby in the dark, warm a bottle, rock him back to sleep. I creep back to our room, holding my breath again. I slide onto the bathmat gingerly, and pull the bath towel around my shoulders, hoping for another hour or two of sleep.
Just after dawn, I drag myself out of bed feeling dehydrated and sort of dizzy, pulling the bathmat off my mattress and unwinding the beach towel from my shoulders as I go, throwing them in the hamper and then stripping the bed of the sheets and blankets as I wait for the shower to get hot. I am going to have to wash my pillow again. The comforter too. Maybe the mattress pad should just be thrown out.
I study myself in the mirror, my eyes puffy and my face shiny, one cheek is creased from the towel, the texture from the bathmat impressed upon my hip and shoulder.
You know, when you hear about hot flashes and night sweats, you probably think you know what it entails. I know I thought I did. I read the books. I knew what I was getting into. A little overheated. Flushed. Easy to deal with - sleep with light blanket instead of a heavy quilt. Wear layers that you can take on and off. Open a window. Use a fan.
It's not like that.
2 hours ago