So how poignant was my post yesterday where I ever-so-slightly complained about Mateo's wakings during the night only to find out today that the poor boy is suffering from night terrors?
Yeah. Real poignant.
A little history. I have massive sleep issues. At least, I used to. I guess they are night terrors, but I never really thought of them that way. My night terrors started when I was about 17 or so, when I was working at a busy movie theatre. During the holidays movie theatres are super busy, especially when children's shows are playing. While I had everything down pat, be it working the concession stand or in the ticket booth, the holiday period stressed me out beyond belief. I "woke up" during my first night terror, and found myself sitting up and counting "money" on my blanket (not really - just going through the motions). These things are hard to explain unless you've had one; basically you're stuck in a situation you can't get out of, nothing makes sense, and you feel so completely stuck that when you finally start waking up, and you know you're waking up, the feeling of doom weighs heavy on your consciousness, enough so that I, personally, break down crying.
These dreams continued off and on, and I got to the point where I would start walking in my sleep as well. I also hold conversations with my husband, who is so used to it now, that he just tells me to go back to sleep and gently pushes me back down (I'm usually sitting straight up). The last time I remember this happening was after having Mateo, and I was dreaming that I put him somewhere, and I couldn't find him, and I was completely panicked. I had gotten out of bed and was looking under our bed. Really. Not just thinking about it in a dream. I was physically doing it. Talk about thinking you've lost your marbles. I was so freaked out by the dream itself plus the fact that I got out of bed and was on the floor, looking under it, that I started balling. It took me a really long time to finally understand that I did nothing with Mateo, and that he was in his crib, sleeping.
Mateo's been having sleep issues off and on during the night. Last week when I was home alone with him, he woke up from a nap in a complete tizzy. Since this was the first time I could really see him because of the daylight, I started thinking that maybe he was still asleep while freaking out. When I talked to him and tried to touch him, he acted like I was trying to kill him. When I finally got him out of the crib, he sat on my lap and wouldn't let me touch him at all. Eventually his little body relaxed and melted into mine. I believe this was when he finally woke up completely.
He's done the same thing almost every night--the freak outs, the crying, the screaming, the acting like I'm going to kill him, the not wanting me to touch him, the saying "no, no, no, no, no" over and over like some thing's trying to get to him--and last night was no different. After we let him cry and moan for an hour (this killed me, by the way), my husband went into his room to calm him down. By then Mateo was fully awake. My husband made a little bed on Mateo's floor, laid down with Mateo, and they both went to sleep. Mateo didn't wake up again after that. I went in at 3:30am and told my husband to get in bed, and I moved Mateo to his crib.
It was then that I realized Mateo had to be suffering from night terrors. He just had to be. When I went back into our room, I looked up night terrors with toddlers, and everything described fit Mateo. He generally starts up around 9:30pm, give or take 30 minutes, and he continues to have night terrors every hour until one of us has to stay with him. The basic advice was for us to stay calm when we first go in his room, don't try to talk to him or touch him, and just make sure he's safe and doesn't hurt himself (and if you've ever seen it in action, that is easily done).
I e-mailed Mateo's doctor, whom I love, and asked him if he felt Mateo was suffering from night terrors, gave him the general description of what happens, and he replied yes, most definitely. He told me that we should wait until we think he's fully awake before trying to comfort him, if he wants it. So I have to assume the last few times this has happened, and we let him cry for a good hour, he was fully awake and completely distraught and upset but didn't really get why. Well, he didn't know why except that his momma wouldn't come and hold him.
Yes, the guilt, it does hurt.
So now we're going to start a new practice with him. Mostly taking turns with sleeping with him in his room if he has a night terror. We all need our sleep, our neighbors don't want to be tortured by the screaming, and I really don't like the fact that Mateo is going through something I can't help fix.
Should be fun, no? I just can't imagine what's been going on in his little head. Luckily, he probably doesn't remember the actual night terror itself. I hope.