Life After Coffee

This is the story of my journey into and out of addiction. To coffee.

I was never a regular coffee drinker. My husband was the I-start-to-get-the-shakes-if-I-don’t-have-my-requisute-ten-cups-of-coffee-by-noon kind of drinker. I would occasionally pour myself a cup, drink about 1/2 of it (with a pound of sugar and cream to cover the taste) and then dump it out when I’d realized it’d gotten cold.

Then I got pregnant. And was working as a waitress (my husband and I both lost our jobs two weeks before I found out I was pregnant. Horaaaay for character building! Or fuck that. Either way). I also got diagnosed with gestational diabetes and was told no sugar. Or sugar substitutes (well, to be fair they did inform me: “You can have Splenda. It’s fine for your diabetes but we have no idea of the long term effects on a developing fetus.” Awesome.)

I was working 16-18 hour shifts and super pregnant (30+ weeks) and could barely keep my eyes open. You know, it’s so easy to sleep when you are up every 23 minutes all night alternatively peeing, throwing up or crying from the pain of heartburn.

So I had a cup of coffee one morning, sans sugar.

The first one’s free, I tell you.

It tasted like complete ass. (No sugar, crappy restaurant coffee, heartburn, 6 months pregnant). And the fun part was, I didn’t feel more awake at all.

But the next day I was more tired without it.

So I had a cup.

It was a very quick descent into the land of MustHaveCoffee. It didn’t actually wake me up or energize me, I just was ten time more sluggish without it. So I had two cups a day, every day, for the better part of three years. (And those of you that want to lecture me about having caffeine during my pregnancy, don’t. I quit smoking, drinking, eating delicious things, sleeping and about ninety thousand other things for my developing fetus. My doctor was monitoring baby girl for GD and told me if I’d shown any signs of developmental or cardiac irregularities he’d take me off it. He didn’t, so the one to two cups of coffee a day was fine. Thankyouverymuch)

I stopped drinking the coffee when I got pregnant with my second daughter for the first 14 weeks, then went back to only one cup a day. Then my second daughter was born.

She was is the worst sleeper ever. At 13 months she’s still up 2-5 times a NIGHT. I know people with newborns who don’t wake as often as she does. (Literally, I just met a 10 day old baby who’s mother informed me that her adorable daughter sleeps four hour stretches. I was so happy for her. In the I want to punch someone kind of way.)

So I started drinking more coffee. Clearly that was the solution to the fact that I was more sluggish. (I, of course, was causing my daughter irreparable harm by having coffee and still breastfeeding her, as I’m sure you can ascertain.) Then one day someone suggested to me that maybe it was the coffee that was causing a problem; the more tired I was the more I drank and the more I drank the less she slept and the less she slept the more I drank. (I’d draw you a picture of the vicious cycle but I don’t know how to do that on my computer so you’ll have to use your imagination. Sorry.)

So I stopped and she slept better!! (I, on the other hand suffered headaches and shakes the likes of which your average heroin junkie could probably relate to)

She slept better, though, so I decided it was worth it.

Aaah…she slept better (and by better I mean 3 hour stretches).

But, still, it was better.

For four nights.

Then she was back to her crazy all over the place schedule. I decided the “coffee” solution must have been a fluke so I drank 1/2 cup. And she was up all night again.

I, of course, was too stubborn to notice the correlation. (Notice, admit to, whatever…)

So I went through coffee detox hell for the first four months of her life until I realized I have to ban all caffeine together. Teas, soda, coffee, even the .003mg in Excedrin. (To be fair, I didn’t really drink soda or tea to begin with. But still.) Every little but would keep her awake all night. It seems brutally unfair that the reverse is not automatically true though: she certainly doesn’t sleep better without it.

And now I’ve been caffeine free for nearly a year. I hate to admit it, but I do feel better. I just miss coffee, my one vice.

And she still doesn’t sleep.

(And no, I haven’t considered weaning my 13 month old child from the boob. That’s not really a solution for us. I’d rather just bitch about the fact that I miss coffee. We practice extended breastfeeding in this house for a lot of well researched, medically sound reasons. Also because it’s cheaper than milk (and, well, everything) and I’m lazy. And I enjoy nursing my daughter. And boobie juice is awesome. At least my daughters have seemed to think so.)

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