Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Night Terrors

It's between 12 and 3 am. You're in full fledged dream mode or in so deep your mind is encased in oblivion. Suddenly, your body is jerked awake by the soul-piercing screams from one of your kids. You rush to console, ease, comfort but are met with thrashing limbs and still more screaming. Speaking worsens, touching heightens. Nothing you do is helping.

Your child is having a night terror.

We discovered these when Alex was about 10 months old. They're scary and can be harmful when your on the recieving end of one of these nocturnal disorders. From what I gather, the child isn't daytime affected, nor has a poor relationship with sleep because of them. Alex's night terrors were intense bouts of thrashing, screaming and fighting. All on his side.

The scariest part is that the child can look awake; eyes open, talking, even eating all in the throws of the worst tantrum you could imagine. The hardest part was when he screamed for me, his cries sounding desperate and afraid, only to then punch or head butt me when I tried to soothe him. He didn't know who I was. His eyes were open but he was still asleep.

I ended up with split lips, bites and bruises from his full body assault. Fear that I was doing something wrong as a mother. Fear that they'd never end. They lasted over a year and occoured anywhere from 2 to 5 times a week, each lasting as long as 20-40 minutes. Eventually, they subsided and stopped all together. But they can last a lifetime.

Two nights ago, Max woke up in a night terror daze. He had another last night. There is no real explaination for why night terrors occour, though there are a lot of speculations and theories. They are heriditary,which is interesting since Rob had them and now only our boys have experienced them. The other part that is hard to determine is what actually happens through one since our boys aren't old enough to tell us what they think or feel. They go about their days, after getting back to sleep, without any recollection of having it.

After one occours, Max has been taking residence up in our bed. Which is how we finally were able to get Alex's to stop at two and a half. We brought him back to co-sleep full time. Having the close human contact right when it's needed reduced the strength and duration and after a few weeks stopped them all together. Then we slowly moved him out of our bed and back into his without a bout since.

So, a new chapter has started in our lives though it's one we've read before. Bedtime will have us on edge, wondering if tonight will be night terror filled again. We'll just take each as it comes and hope to get through them painlessly and quickly. With added hope that Max will grow out of them, too.

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