From Sleepless Nights to a Bedtime Story

From Sleepless Nights to a Bedtime Story

When my son was born, the joy of new motherhood often eluded me. In its place was sheer exhaustion and exasperation, since he just. wouldn’t. sleep. anywhere other than in our arms. 

My journal from those early months read like they were written by someone who's never met him, never kissed his dimply cheeks or heard his silly jokes.  And it's true, I hadn't known him like I do now.  My love was boundless but often shallow.  Day in, day out, we lived our lives in 3-hour sleep cycles.  Then, around the 3-month mark, he smiled.  And that moment of glee erased a sleepless night. 

A smile turned two, turned many, to giggles and squeals.  From our arms to a bassinet, to his crib, in his room, over night.  It happened just the way others said it would -  the way I couldn't believe when I was in the throes of 4am doom scrolling while holding my infant son, the way I was thinking if all the animals in the world were sleeping, why not you? 

"Are You Sleepy Yet, My Dear?" is inspired by those nights when the hope of ever sleeping again seemed so far from reality.  


Originally, I tried to write this bilingual book in Vietnamese traditional lục bát (six-eight) poetic style - with the help of my dad - to mirror the meaning of the English couplets.  This effort proved extremely challenging and the result was too complicated to hold the attention of tiny toddlers like mine.  So I simplified it; and like most things, simple turned out best. 

Check out the difference. 


The sun is setting far away.
The moon begins its climb.
Are you sleepy yet, my dear? 
Let's go to bed; it's time.

Vietnamese (lục bát draft)

Mặt trời lặn xuống hướng Tây.
Mặt trăng mọc đến gần đầu ngọn cây.
Bé ơi, trời sắp tối rồi.
Bên ngoài, thế giới tời hời nghỉ ngơi.

Vietnamese (final) 

Mặt trời đã lặn xuống.
Mặt trăng đang mọc lên.
Con cảm thấy mệt chưa?
Giờ đi ngủ đã đến. 


For illustrations, I wanted to evoke feelings of calm-after-the-chaos, as if we were peeking into the end of a giant slumber party.  Nita Febiani brought that vision to life and more.  Her illustrations reveal an animal kingdom winding down after a full day of adventure and play.  You can almost feel your eyes drooping seeing how relaxed and settled the animals are.  For more of her work, follow Nita on IG @nitafebiani. 


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1 comment

So true, so sweet, & so cute! Thanks for sharing the BTS!

Lisa & Jordan

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