I wrote this in May of 2013 and didn’t share due to its depressing nature. I am happy to say that at the age of three, Clayton is finally sleeping! I still wish I’d pushed for a sleep study and continue to wonder if he has some kind of sleep disorder as there are still some funny things with his sleep. If I wasn’t so foggy and out of my mind I would have advocated for more help for him, I think. It’s hard to see things clearly when nothing is clear.
Now I am sharing for a friend who is having similar issues with her baby. You are not alone! As I went through this I commiserated with a few other moms and watched them all drop away as their little ones started sleeping well before mine. That will be you too! If not, consider getting things checked out and make sure there aren’t health reasons that are being overlooked. Good luck!
I am living in a fog. It clouds all the corners of my brain. I can’t ever remember what I’m doing or what I’m supposed to do next. I don’t have the energy for my greatest loves: my kids, exercise, friends, reading, etc. I have all but given up cooking for my family. I don’t have the time or focus. I get sick, cranky, emotional and anxious easily and often. I can’t trust my thoughts or feelings. My house is a disaster and my relationships are all under strain. I don’t eat many meals but I make up for it in snacks which I eat like crazy all afternoon and evening in order to stay awake.
This is what a year and a half of intense sleep deprivation looks like. I did the first year with our non-sleeping baby by myself. I take care of the babies, the man takes care of the big boys. That’s how we’ve always divided nighttime parenting responsibilities. I definitely got the raw end of that deal with this kid but with Allen heavy into school it worked out.
Clayton slept like a newborn for the first 9 months or so- to bed late, up every hour or so, up early and with awake periods here and there throughout the night. Then it got worse. Since then he hasn’t slept between the hours of approximately 12:30-3:30 or 4 a.m. For many, many months we experienced something akin to night terrors during that time. The whole time. And sometimes one earlier in the night or later in the morning. He screamed, thrashed, kicked, hit, shook and seemed terrified… never quite awake. I could tell when we were nearing the end of an episode. He was still screaming but his eyes would suddenly focus on something. He would, in small ways begin responding to his environment. Then I knew I could offer him a bottle or sippy and he would drink and fall asleep. We had survived one more.
I worried about the long term damage these episodes were doing. A body can’t be under that kind of stress and not incur lasting damage. And I don’t believe there are no negative psychological effects of spending that much time in terror. I don’t believe kids are quite that resilient.
I hesitate to say this out loud but I think we are past the night terrors. Our very wise, very gifted chiropractor requested a crack at the kid’s sleep issues. I’m glad she did. I’m very slow to actively try new options because I’m afraid that if it doesn’t work there will be nothing left for us to do. I’m afraid it will break me. Clayton’s been to see her twice in the last month or so. He always sleeps better the first couple of days but more importantly, there have been none of these episodes since our first visit with her. This has been a tremendous blessing.
But the lack of sleep continues. I think it’s just part of who this kid is. He doesn’t sleep. He doesn’t need but a couple of hours on either end of the night and often a good solid nap in the day. If I didn’t have three other children. a need for personal hygiene, and other responsibilities I might even be able to catch up sleeping at nap time.
I am very nervous about Allen starting PA school but very glad it will be summer for the kids. I regret that my boys will be giving up yet another summer when they should be exploring and experiencing the world as a family because mom is too tired. I want my life back. I want my family back.
For now we’ll just keep surviving…