After a week of racking my brain, consulting toddler how-to books, Babycenter, and Dr. Google I have determined that Zach is having night terrors. I keep reading and reading and every new description of night terrors I read describes exactly what he is going through. Each description is slightly different, but the main points are the same and nearly every one states that in children stress and overtiredness may be a contributing factor.
Since we took his pacifier away, a little over a week ago, Zach has been waking up screaming pretty much every night. It lasts anywhere from a few minutes to well over an hour. Sometimes it is only once and then he settles back in for the night (usually in our bed). Other times he settles down but still wakes several times throughout the night screaming and crying out. When he has screamed it out as much as he can and is finally exhausted, sometimes he will let me hold him and rub his back until he drifts off to sleep. Other times he still screams at my touch.
There are many thoughts and ideas about how to handle the night terrors, but I’m still stumped as to what I should actually do. There is no true cure, only suggestions for alleviating the stresses that may be causing the night terrors. I’m pretty sure that Zach’s main stress is not having his pacifier. This leads to a difficult bedtime routine, restless sleep, and eventually being overtired. I’m sure it also doesn’t help that he’s starting to refuse to take a nap in the afternoons. I know where the stress is, but how do I fix it other than to give the pacifier back? I don’t want to do that, but I really, really, need a good night’s sleep.
The worst part of all of this is that I have to sit there and just watch as my son screams and thrashes around on the floor. I feel so helpless and all I want to do is to just hold him and make it better, but my touch seems to upset him even more. All I can do is watch and make sure that he is safe. If I get too close, I’m bound to get hit or have something thrown at me. I’ve already taken several kicks in the belly and other various places, an elbow to the nose, and had a dog bone thrown at me. Once he finally settles down enough and I can hold him, I never want to let him go.
Last night, during one of his worst episodes, I took out my camera and actually video taped him. I’m not sure why I did it other than that I was looking for answers. He had settled down quite a bit by that time, but was still crying and throwing himself around a bit. After the fit stopped, we were snuggling on the floor watching Blue’s Clues (in an effort to relax him a little more before going back to bed) and I played the video back on the camera. He wanted to see what I was watching so I let him. He looked up with a concerned look that nearly broke my heart and said, “That’s me. Me crying?” Yeah baby, you were crying and so is Mama (on the inside).
Everything I read says that it will pass, but how do I survive in the meantime?