I want to preface this blog post with this comment: I am not complaining and I am not claiming that we have sleep issues at our house. I know many parents who deal with true sleep issues. Children who refuse to go to bed or stay in bed. Children who can't stay asleep. Children who wake early or wake often. Children who just don't sleep period. My heart goes out to these families because there is no feeling more helpless than when all you want is for your child to sleep...and they can't.
My girls are both generally good sleepers. They both go to bed without a fuss and generally fall asleep quickly and easily. Adelie sleeps soundly, and we usually don't hear a peep from her until she wakes up in the morning. (Her sound sleeping habits may be due in part to the fact that she never stops moving when she's awake.) Staley, on the other hand, isn't quite so sound a sleeper. It's not uncommon for her to wake in the night and ask for a drink or to be covered back up or for help finding Yellow Bear hidden in the covers. But when her request is met, she can usually fall back asleep quickly and easily. But she has two rare night time sleep difficulties that have recently reared their ugly heads. And since I blog to remember the little things that seem so big in the moment, I want to record them here.
Firstly, Staley has occasional night terrors. Not nightmares. Night terrors. And as a parent, they are simply that. Terrifying. She'll wake up, usually an hour or two after she goes to sleep, screaming and crying. She writhes around in her bed, and there is nothing we can do to console her. Her eyes are sometimes open, and she'll occasionally say something or answer a question, but she is not truly awake. She'll roll around and kick and cry and scream and mumble while we helplessly sit by, reassuring her and making sure she doesn't hurt herself. They generally last 5-10 minutes and then she'll just suddenly fall back asleep. The first time this happened, we were SO worried, trying to figure out what was wrong with our daughter and why we couldn't make it better. Thank heavens for a quick Google search to help us self-diagnose and realize that Staley wasn't even awake and wouldn't remember this in the morning. Staley has had about 4 of these over the past year or so. They usually come when she is sick or over-tired. However, a few weeks ago, she was under the weather and had them for 3 consecutive nights, including 2 in one night. It was the most she'd ever had that close together.
As helpless and sad as the night terrors make me, Staley's other occasional night time issue has a bigger impact on us all. Staley has occasional bouts where she will wake in the night and be unable to go back to sleep...for hours. She doesn't cry. She doesn't get out of bed. She doesn't make a big deal out of it. But she will make a request every 10-15 minutes for a drink of water, a hug, a lullabye, or an extra blanket. She'll then lie quietly for another 10-15 minutes and then make another request. It's such a helpless feeling, knowing that we both need the sleep and not knowing how to make that happen. Again, she's done this about 4 times in the past year and a half or so, but has done it one night each of the past 2 weeks. Last night was one of those nights. I think she functioned better today that I did. :)
There are some things we can make our kids do. We can make them brush their teeth or clean up their toys or get dressed. But we can't make them sleep. And sometimes we can't even help them sleep, even when it's what we both want. There is no worse feeling as a parent than helplessness, the inability to give our child what they need. But feeling helpless and sleepless...well, that's even worse.