Sometimes exhaustion brings the answer

IMAG1260Over the past few months Hannah’s had some changes in her sleep pattern. No surprise, right? Yeah, well, that’s understating it a bit. She basically relapsed back to how she was in the infant stage – for a while she absolutely dreaded and despised sleeping by herself.

It started innocently enough one Sunday night about 5 weeks ago. She woke up crying around 2 or 3 am, which was normal. I organized my one-man search party, found her pacifier, popped it in her mouth and headed back to bed, like I had done the previous 200 or so nights. Typically, she would just lie back down and go back to sleep without a fuss. Not this particular night, though. She spat out the pacifier like Sam feeding me a brussel sprout and started screaming. I gave her a couple of minutes then went back in, took her downstairs and got her back to sleep. No big deal I thought, this happens occasionally. Little did I know this was going to be the first of 3 straight weeks of frustrating, agonizing, exhausting and utterly defeating nights. It’s all a blur now, as most phases tend to be after the fact, but at the time those were some of the most challenging weeks we’ve faced in our short parenthood experience.

Every single night for those 3 weeks she was up 1, 2, even 3 times, shrieking, screeching and wailing like she was beyond scared, almost terrified and Sam and I took turns coming to the rescue. The only way to calm her down was to pick her up and hold her on the recliner, often with a bottle, which led to many nights of us half-sleeping with her on us. Oh, we’d try to return her to bed, but sometimes just the slightest movement would jolt her awake and into a rage, so back to the recliner we went. I even started setting the couch up as a bed and we slept there a couple of times instead of the chair. One thing we did avoid, and I’m really glad we did, was bringing her into our bed. That’s still sacred ground to us after 10pm!

We asked around and talked to people and some different theories were proposed – at one point we even thought maybe she was seeing ghosts! The most sensible answer seems to be a combination of separation anxiety – she hated waking up or falling asleep without us – combined with some bad dreams that were spooking her. I’m not sure what kind of nightmares her young little imagination can concoct, she’s just about as sheltered as humanly possible, so I’m guessing maybe she’s dreaming that she’s sucking a bottle and can’t get anything out or perhaps she’s being attacked by a kiwi – those things are kinda creepy if you ask me, weird hairy fruit.

Finally, after 3 weeks of this, I went into her room one night and instead of picking her up and heading downstairs I pleaded with her to go back to sleep. At first, I was leaning down eye level with her, then I sank to my knees, and finally just laid down next to her crib. What happened next? The little bugger lied down in her crib as close to the edge as possible, let out a little baby sigh (one of the greatest noises of all time by the way), and closed her eyes. I fell asleep for a few minutes and woke up with a crick in my neck, but with a smile on my face – I just had a feeling that the mighty night terror had been defeated! And of all the different things we tried, wouldn’t you know it that the simple of act of lying down out of desperate exhaustion was just what she needed. I’m sure she sensed our frustration and was probably just as tired of the routine as we were, and just wanted us close by.

The next couple of nights we repeated that process and she slept better than she had in a month. Lately, over the course of the past week or two she’s slept all the way through the night as many times as not, so progress has definitely been made. However, we’ve been humbled and tricked enough over these past 15 months to know that it’s going to change again sooner than later, but for now we’re just so grateful to get uninterrupted sleep a few nights a week!

Next, on Adventures of Hannah – bad mood, bad appetite, and giving mom a bad back! Stay tuned.

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October 6, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , . Observations and musings, Updates.

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