Three months. For three months we were dealing with little to no sleep. But let me go back.
It all began in early March. Toad visited a friend’s house and wound up watching some sort of scary Michael Jackson thing on YouTube. From what I’ve been told it’s a “tour” of his house when someone pops out at the screen and makes you jump. After that night he had a difficult time going back to sleep and had a few nightmares. That, I get. But the situation continued. Soon he was having not only a difficult time going to bed at night, but he was also waking up frequently in the night and making sure that I got up every time he was up. We found out that our son felt like he was being isolated at school. His best friend had moved to Maine. So we worked with the school, and with his teacher, to make sure that he wasn’t feeling isolated anymore and school got better. But sleeping didn’t. He was cross and didn’t do his work at school or at home. And our nights went something like this:
7:30 – Start bedtime routine (bathroom, solo reading time, hugs and kisses)
8:00 – Go in for final kisses and to make sure lights are off
8:30 – Toad walks into the living room and says “I can’t sleep”. I walk him back into his room, tuck him back in, soothe him for five to ten minutes, then head back into the living room.
8:45 – Toad comes back out again. The process is repeated.
9:00 – Once again Toad comes out. At this point I start getting frustrated and make it known to Toad that I am getting upset and he needs to make an effort to sleep.
9:30 – I start to hear sobbing coming from Toad’s room. I huff and go into his room where I get very frustrated with him, some stern words are used, and then I leave.
9:45 – I feel guilty about being upset and go back into his room. He’s still awake, sitting up, and upset. I apologize for getting cranky, remind him that he needs to make an effort to RELAX. Tell him to close his eyes and to think about a movie (he usually picked Cars). I’d then go through part of the movie with him while his eyes were closed to help him to relax.
11:00 – Scott and I head to bed, with Toad sleeping.
1:30 am – A small sound wakes me up and when I look up I see Toad standing at my door, upset and saying that he “can’t sleep”. Bring him back to bed, repeat the process that worked at 9:45. Go back to bed and watch TV quietly, as once I’m awake, I’m up.
1:45 am – Back comes Toad, sniffling loudly very upset. And very upset I get when I sternly march him back to bed.
2:15 am – Toad’s making noises in his room – shoving his pillows off of his bed, making damn sure that I hear him. I get VERY upset, tell him off, then finally get him to relax and to lie down.
2:30 am – I hear him moving around in his bed.
2:45 am – moving finally stops and I’m able to get to sleep.
And that is how we spent our time. And not just one day or two, but WEEKS of time. I wound up getting so exhausted that I was extremely emotional, not enjoying my children at all, and was ready to scream. And we tried EVERYTHING. We kept him up later, we put him to bed earlier, we did lots of activities, we did very few activities, we let him read longer, we took away the book, we let him watch a movie in his room and then shut it off to help him relax (apparently it had worked for a night at Grammy’s), we stopped letting him watch TV at all at night. Yes, EVERYTHING.
EVERYONE had advice. I felt like I was raising a newborn again. Believe me, I welcomed honest, helpful advice, but the few things I kept hearing over and over were driving me nuts. They were “get him more exercise! He’ll sleep them!” (wanna bet? WE TRIED IT), and “just let him cry it out. He’ll go to sleep eventually” (ever let a 10 year old cry it out? It just pisses him off more and makes him go LONGER and NO ONE in the house gets any sleep. And unlike a newborn he can’t take a nap when he’s got school, so that did NOT work.). We even sought out his doctor, who knew that something was up when I made an appointment because I never make appointments with her unless it’s serious. She put him on lorazepam at night, stating that he was getting overly-anxious and that the lorazepam would help.
The problem was it seemed like things helped for only four or five days and then we’d be back to not sleeping and getting grumpy. So I was, quite literally, at my wits end. I looked online and NO ONE had a situation like we did. I didn’t know what to do. But finally, FINALLY, however, I was able to find a routine that worked. This is, of course, after not only consulting the doctor, but putting him in touch with a therapist as well. Here’s what we do now:
7:00 – 4 MG of Melatonin.
7:45 – Bathroom and tucked into bed. Hugs, kisses, and start the Indigo Dreams CD.
8:10 – Check on Toad – completely asleep. Turn off the CD.
10:00ish – Toad gets up, a bit disoriented. Bring him back to bed, tuck him in, and give him kisses.
We also have a twin sized mattress in our bedroom. I stumbled across this online and it was a great idea. IF he gets up in the middle of the night and mom and dad are asleep, he’s allowed to come into our room and to sleep on the mattress as long as he does so quietly and without trying to wake anyone up. He did it for a bit over a week, and of last weekend he spent at Grammy and Grampa’s – he hasn’t done it since. The mattress allows him the security to know that he’s got somewhere else safe to sleep if he needs to near mom and dad, and gives us the ability to get some serious sleep, which we desperately needed, so that we can handle the situation better.
The Melatonin – absolutely wonderful. We started at 2 MG but moved it up with the doctor’s permission. And the Lori Lite CD, Indigo Dreams? Absolutely wonderful as well. Very relaxing – so relaxing it actually puts me to sleep when I listen to it! I know it’s a long process, and he’s going to keep visiting the therapist for awhile, but it has made me appreciate sleep as much, if not more so, than I did when my babies were infants.