Saturday, December 18, 2010

Something's Wrong...

...and I don't know what to do about it.

It concerns Shav.  *Sigh.*

Our youngest son is exquisite.  Treasured beyond my ability to describe, he is a perfect puzzle piece for our family.  I love him more and more and cannot bear to think of life without him.

With all that said, I'll also admit that Shav has never been the greatest sleeper--a fact which, if you've read this blog for a while, you're very familiar with.  To tell you the truth, he's the worst sleeper we've had; and after three boys who consistently slept through the night from a very young age, I've had to really adjust to Shav's challenging sleep habits.

However, he had been doing much better in recent months; and I was hopeful that his sleep issues were a thing of the past.  I was hopeful, that is, until he started waking up in the night, screaming at the top of his lungs.  *Sigh.*  Here we go again.

My first course of action, when awakened by his cries, is to go to him, pick him up, let him bury his head in my shoulder for a little cuddle, give him a drink of water, do the familiar-to-every-mother sniff test to discern whether his diaper is dirty, then lay him back down and tuck his blankets around him.  When these latest sleep disturbances started happening, he was comforted by me doing that.

But after a few times of that, he apparently decided that that was not enough; and the comforting progressed to me holding him for a few minutes in the rocking chair before laying him back down.  As you can guess, that worked for a while; but then came a night or two when that didn't do the trick and Jeff ended up holding him in bed or taking him downstairs.  But then...  *Sigh.*

Shav started waking up and crying hard, very hard.  When I would go to him to comfort him, he would cry harder and arch his back as if in pain.  When I would reach out for him to pick him up, he would roll away from me and sometimes even grab the crib railings and cling to them.  When I would gently say his name, he would wail louder.  When I would lift him in my arms, he would push himself away with all his might and make me feel like he was going to do a back-flip and propel himself out of my arms.  He made it crystal-clear that HE DID NOT WANT ME TO HOLD HIM.

That happened a few times in the night; but today, it happened during his nap, and the episode lasted about 40 minutes.  I don't like this progression, this sequence of events that makes me feel so dreadfully helpless.

It's absolutely bewildering to me.  Why does he do that?  Why doesn't he let me comfort him?  The possible explanations we've pondered are:
1. pain,
2. constipation (a form of pain),
3. character issue/temper tantrum,
4. night terrors.

Pain was definitely my first assumption, based on how he was arching his back and writhing.  But the fact that he didn't even want me to hold him left me puzzled, and besides, if he was in some kind of pain, wouldn't it hit him while he was awake and out of bed, too?

Same with constipation--wouldn't he have spells with that at other times, too, and not just when he was in bed sound asleep?

Jeff and I thought that maybe Shav was reacting to the fact that he knows that when he cries in the night, I'll pick him up and comfort him briefly, but then put him back in bed.  Maybe he wasn't getting what he wanted, and so he was taking it out on us in a way that an almost 17-month-old can do:  by throwing a fit.  But if it's just a temper tantrum about having to be in bed, why then did he do that this afternoon during his nap when I did come to him, take him out of bed, carry him downstairs, offer milk, get him ready to play, etc.?

That leaves us with option #4.

I was vaguely familiar with the term "night terrors," but I only really knew enough about them to be confident that none of our other boys had dealt with them.  A quick Internet search, however, uncovered a huge amount of information about them (here is just one among many articles about them...and here is another).  Is it possible that Shav has started having these?

Some of the symptoms sound like what he's been going through--for example, the way he fiercely resists being touched or spoken to--but his crying spells last much longer than the few minutes these articles mention.  Not ever having had experience with night terrors, I'm at a loss to know if that's what is going on.

Is it something else entirely?  Something we haven't even thought of?

I just don't know how to help him.  I feel so helpless.  *Sigh.*

*BIG sigh.*


Misty said...

Night terrors are really scary! My niece had one when I was there once when she was a baby and I have never heard a baby scream so loud ever before or since. It was the first time it happened to her so none of us knew what it was. She cried so hard and loud we actually called the on-call doctor! Anyway, with night terrors, as I'm sure you've read, typically the person needs to be awakened in order to snap out of it. Have you tried turning on the lights, dipping his feet in water etc. They may look awake but truly aren't and it's frightening to watch. My brother also had night terrors. What eventually settles him back to sleep? Praying for you all as I know how exhausting, frustrating and scary it is when you are awake all night with your baby and can't figure out what is wrong!

Valerie said...

When I worked in daycare a little one in my class had night terrors (naptime terrors). They were brought on by stress and changes in his life. When the stresses went away so did the terrors. Not sure what 17month olds and 2 year olds would stress about but perhaps there is something there?? We were instructed to just leave him alone, only making sure that he doesn't get hurt (like falling off of the naptime cot). What we were told was waking him up could be scary too because they wake up in a screaming state and that frightens them. What is Shave like after a screaming episode? Does he seem to forget it all? No problems with his ears? I'm so sorry Davene. I know how hard it is to see your baby hurting and not being able to figure out what is wrong to fix it. :( Praying that you find answers soon!!

Stacey said...

I have had an experience with Night terrors. I am not sure they are as extreme as you are describing. But when I have mine, I don't wake up screaming. When mine start I am in that place of sound sleep or mostly asleep. I feel an intense sense of fear come over me. I feel like I am being held really tight. I try to scream or reach out to my husband to save me or wake me or something. The only problem is that while I am screaming as loud as I can to get help, no sound comes out of my mouth. It seams like it is all in my head. I can't move either. I try to but it is like I am paralyzed.

My son sleep walks and talks and can carry on a perfectly normal conversation. Only his eyes seem glazed or vacant. When I wake him he just looks confused like he has no idea why we are talking, or what is going on. It is the weidrest thing. Check his eyes and see what they look like durring this time. Does he recognize you, I mean really recognize that you are there with him. Are his eyes glazed? Does it seem to happen when things are a little out of the norm, that day. I guess I am wondering if he gets over stimulated early in the day, Does he eat anything that might trigger it?
One more thing, like you haven't prayed enough! maybe anoint him with oil and pray. I am not sure your belief with that but it might be something to look at. I hope you find the answer and that the baby Shav can sleep peacefully!

Beth said...

Oh Davene -

My heart hurts for you. I can feel your anguish as you and your husband try to figure out what is causing precious Shav to lose sleep.

It is unsettling to know that something is wrong with your child and not know how to fix it and make it better. You just wish they could talk to you and tell you!

I WILL be praying for him, for you, and for your husband in these coming hours, days, and weeks.

Kristen said...

Wow...I hope these episodes quickly go away and you don't have to look too deeply into solutions. I can only imagine how helpless you feel. Praying for you all!

Ceci said...

Meredith had several weeks of night terros. We were always told that you are not to wake them up, which I am sure you have read. To just hold them, reassure them until they calm down. Leave them in their bed. One thing we finally decided to do because we were lacking greatly in sleep, was to put Sydney in a room with her. That cut down on the night terrors greatly! Maybe try to put one of the other boys in a room with him, Josiah would possibly be old enough to handle a little crying.

Hopefully this helps and gives you some ideas to try. I understand what you are going through. Get a nap when you can. This too shall pass, but at the current time it feels like forever. We still don't have a great sleeper in Meredith and I have to get a nap when I can. But I am so thankful that the night terrors are gone.

Tim and Michelle said...

I had pretty extensive night terrors growing up for years and they often lasted an hour or two. What my parents finally learned was that when they woke me up, it only made it worse (when they didn't wake me up, I didn't remember it...waking me up made me frustrated and angry). Once they learned to just make sure I was safe, etc. they got much better.
Our daughter had them when she was 2. It was hard (esp. since it brought back memories for me!). She would fight against us and lash out if we tried to comfort/talk to her and would go on for a while. When we started just "supervising" and making sure she didn't get hurt (not talking, etc.) then they were over in less than 15 minutes. I did read it can happen more when there is transition or they are more tired, and we felt like that was true in our case (it happened most when were moved 3 times in a year). She grew out of them pretty quick and hasn't had trouble for several years. Hope that is helpful...
Sorry you're going through this struggle and I hope you're able to find a solution!

Tim and Michelle said...

Prob. one of the most disconcerting things is that they look wide awake, but do not respond to you. That is why it took so long for my parents to realize I really was not awake (and I was not just having a temper tantrum). It was so helpful to us to understand that with our daughter!

Polly said...

My so had a spell of these, too, though not as long-lasting as shav's. Night terrors or something along those lines. I'd just wrap him in my arms and shhhhh him and pat his back or snuggle up, but didn't wake him. He was in our room which made it easier for me to handle (no walking around the house!). After a few weeks or a couple of months--I can't remember--it got better and now we don't have them at all.

Another thing I'll say is that my son began sleeping through the night at 28ish months after a big dietary change.yay! And I'll throw this out too--I read that in some African countries parents don't expect children to sleep through the night until 3 (!!) which made me feel my son slept through 'early.' ha!! But all children are different and it seems we have varying cultural expectations also. Hang in there--i'm betting it is pain or night terror related, not tantrum related, but that's just my hunch!