A mum has no recollection of the birth of her first born because she was asleep!
Jody Robson, 24, from Birmingham, falls asleep for up to 11 days at a time and can take weeks to emerge from her stupor.
Although she hasn’t been formally diagnosed, Jody believes she has Kleine Levin Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that sees those afflicted unable to rouse from sleep for days or even weeks on end.
Jody’s episodes are so severe that she has no recollection of several Christmases and even slept through the birth of her first child.
‘One moment I’ve closed my eyes and the next I’ve woken up and it’s two or three weeks later,’ says the mum-of-two. ‘I’ve missed holidays and my sister’s 18th birthday because I was in an episode.’
Jody’s first experience with KLS was when she was just 12 and living in Alicante, Spain. Excited for a sleepover at a friend’s house, Jody arrived with a bag of toys, sweets and a change of clothes.
But that day she fell into a deep sleep and didn’t wake up for eight days.
And when she finally woke from her slumber, Jody couldn’t recognise her family or surroundings.
‘When I was coming out of the episode, everything was dreamy. I couldn’t remember anybody, I couldn’t even remember who I was,’ she explains.
It can take three weeks for Jody to get back to normal. But during the recovery stage where she sleeps, eats and bathes, she has no memory of the things she does or says.
‘When people are talking, nothing is going into my brain, so I just look at them weirdly.
‘I wouldn’t wish it on anybody,’ says Jody who relies on her husband, Steven, 29, to fill her in on the events of her lost weeks.
And inevitably, Jody can sleep through some of life’s biggest moments.
She fell into a long stupor a day before her first child, Harley, was born and has no recollection of his birth.
When she finally awoke two weeks later, she looked down at her body and realised her belly had gone.
Steven had to introduce her to her son and explain the events of the birth.
‘It upsets me because I don’t remember giving birth and it’s supposed to be a precious moment.
‘I think that’s the most upsetting episode I ever had. It gets me emotional because I missed it.’
In Christmas 2014 she fell asleep on Christmas Eve and didn’t recover from her episode until 12 January 2015, just in time for her wedding day!
‘I don’t remember anything about Christmas,’ she says. ‘I remember the run-up to Christmas, putting up the decorations and shopping, but I don’t remember anything after finishing work on Christmas Eve.
Luckily, she woke just days before she was due to marry hubby Steven, on January 31.
‘It’s upsetting that my children are in the living room or a relative’s house opening presents and eating Christmas dinner like a normal family and I’m on my own asleep in bed,’ says Jody.
And she’s frustrated that she’s sleeping through the first years of her sons, Harley, 6, and Riley, 3…
‘I honestly feel that I am sleeping through my children’s lives. I have missed out on so much. The first year with your first child is really special and I missed out on it. I had seven episodes the first year Harley was born. I was asleep pretty much most of that year. It is very frustrating.’
While Jody is asleep her mum and husband help look after the children. As she can be asleep for days, Steven must wake her at least twice to eat a snack, drink water and go to the toilet.
But while Steven can momentarily wake Jody to fulfil her basic needs, the young mum falls straight back to sleep again.
Jody’s typical episode consists of a least a week’s sleep and then two weeks of recovery.
‘The sleeping part is not so scary – it’s the recovery afterwards,’ according to Jody. ‘You are scared that you are not going to be out and back to normal again and the days just drag away.’
Despite the debilitating effect on her life, doctors have yet to diagnose her.
The condition is very rare and doctors have even used Google to research KLS during a consultation.
Over the years she has been tested for epilepsy and narcolepsy – with negative results.
And while Jody sleeps, Steven, a locksmith and glazer, takes care of the school runs, bath time and bed times.
Despite the struggles she faces, Jody knows to treasure every day she is awake, when trips to the park, days out to the zoo and even playing at home or watching TV are moments to cherish.
‘When I have my episodes our lives are on hold,’ she says. ‘My children are so young and I get frustrated that I’m sleeping through their childhood.
‘I just want a diagnosis so I can get some help.’