The Night Terrors

Just when I thought that I had exhausted (literally) all aspects and topics of lack-of-sleep, my darling Mikey has gifted us all with a new one.

For the last two months we have been living in the throws of the night terrors. This horrifying situation means that, anything from three to thirty times a night Michael will start to scream as though he is in agony. His body will go rigid, he will thrash about, pushing us away. All with his eyes closed. It is absolutely terrifying.

All we want to do is help him. All we want to do is soothe him. Sometimes, to be truthful, I want to tell him to shut up, but that’s only when there has been no sleep for many many nights, and I am tipping over the edge into insanity.

This morning, the whole family woke up at 3am and the day began. After many niggly thoughts about potential dark and dangerous health issues he could be suffering to make him this way (despite the fact that frantic middle-of-the-night googling had diagnosed night terrors), I took him to the GP this morning.

His diagnosis? Night terrors. Do nothing. Don’t touch him. Preferably put him in his own room with the door closed so that his shrieking won’t wake us up. Ignore him, because this could go on for a long while yet.

This is not acceptable to me. I can’t ignore my child, who for whatever reason is clearly working his shit out in his sleep. I feel like there is some leftover trauma in his body and he’s releasing it in the only way he knows how. I FEEL so desperate. I feel, I feel, I feel.

But what about Mikey? How does he feel? This, my friends, is the most terrible thing. He can’t communicate his feelings to me in a way that I can understand. I can’t tell if he is scared, or worried, or remembering something from the dark corner of his memory, that might be distorted and that I could put right for him. How do I help him? How do I help us?

I have left my name for an appointment with Pamela Synge, who the world seems to rave about when it comes to cranial osteopathy – I think this may be the key to unlocking the overall sleep issue. I have ordered a slew of indigo essences, which help our whole family in times of need, and hopefully will help us now.

How about you? Have YOU experienced night terrors? Tell me your experience. Tell me your stories. Enlighten me. It’s a clarion call.

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About Ciara McDonnell

Ouch My Fanny Hurts was born in the late stages of my first pregnancy. I was sick and tired of everyone going on and ON about how brilliant it is to be pregnant, when actually, lots of it was quite crap really. And, my fanny hurt a lot. So, I decided to tell the truth about my experience while I was pregnant, and the journey I have been on since, as our little fella grew a little bigger, and we brought our second son into the world in what turned out to be fairly scary circumstances. It’s my story, and I am delighted to share it.
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10 Responses to The Night Terrors

  1. You poor loves, that’s just horrific, I can’t imagine. My kids have not gone through this, but here’s a blog post and 55 comments from people who have. Maybe there’s something in there; at the very least, a whole lot of solidarity.
    http://askmoxie.org/blog/2010/11/coping-with-night-terrors.html

    • Thank you! It is so great to read other people so aptly describing this. Also, loads of them seemed to have problems like Mikey did with sleep in the early days. It is all fitting well… though no solutions. Better keep my wine habit so… I may need it!

  2. Aedin says:

    Oh you poor things-that just sounds horrific.Hope your poor little fellah gets some relief from the therapist!

  3. Olive says:

    Hi,my name is Olive and I was reading your blog for a while. Unfortunately, there isn’t much on this issue in English version of Google, but I found quite a bit of research in Russian medical articles ( we are a bilingual family and I tend to check both). According to them, night terrors (exactly as you described) usually happen in the first three hours after a child goes to sleep and are caused (in simple terms) by dis-coordination of nervous system due to extreme tiredness or information overload. In some worst cases they treat it with medication, a version of baby valium, so to say, but usually they tend to tell the parents to concentrate on sleep quality. No TV, computer or sugary food close to bedtime. Completely ban any cartoons/books with anything scary. Reduce daytime stimulation, i.e. toddler groups, a lot of visitors, etc. Lots of parent attention and quiet games before bed. They often happen after a child drops an afternoon nap and gets overtired as a result, so might try to get it back.
    Not sure if that’s any help to you, but if you need me, I can try to translate a couple of full articles for you.
    Also a small personal bit – if there’s a long wait for Pamela, we were with her colleague Jenny and she sorted out reflux and panic attacks.

    • Olive! Thank you so much for all this information! I am reinstating the lengthy nap as of today – your advice is excellent THANK YOU THANK YOU XXX

      • Olive says:

        No problem at all. Do you need me to translate a full article for you? And good luck with osteopath – totally worked for us, so fingers crossed

  4. When Kayla’s father and I broke up she went through a month of having night terrors, two-three times a week. I got the same stupid reaction off the doctor. My crazy doctor told me to shut her door, ignore it, it will settle. She was TWO! A month or so later it just stopped and she hasn’t had one since. It’s horrific, she throttled round like she was having an epileptic fit (not that I’ve seen one but I can only image that’s what it would look like). She would be exhausted the next morning too from having such a restless sleep. I took her into my bed, that seemed to slow them down but I do believe her night terror were induced with the fact her daddy had moved out.

  5. Gillian Byrne says:

    Hi Ciara. That sounds so upsetting for you all. I just wanted to let you know that we Had a great experience with an osetopath for my little one. She was only a few weeks old and every time she tried to drop off to sleep she would jerk awake. I had her by caesarean and the osteopath told me she had lingering shock in her system because she had got a fright when she was suddenly lifted out of her little bubble without a word of warning and her body wasn’t allowing her to relax enough to sleep. I literally saw her melt before my eyes when he did the cranial manipulation and we haven’t had a bad night since. I know this is a totally different situation but I wanted to give you some hope as lots if people are very anti – osteopaths. Oh and the matra “this too shall pass” has always helped. Good luck!

    • Thank you so much Gillian! I am a firm believer in the osteopath, and particularly in cranial manipulation for the c-section babies. I have always meant to bring Mikey, but of course, never did (waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa). It’s on the cards now though, so fingers crossed x

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