Monday, July 2, 2012

Night Terror

Despite my resolve to not get too carried away with summer fun, we've been burning the candle at both ends a little bit. The kids are up and raring to go by 6:30 at the latest every morning, naps have been extremely sporadic, and the evening hours seem to creep away from us and bedtime has become a little too flexible.

Yesterday we had some friends over for a bbq. We hadn't seen them in a long time and their 3-year-old daughter and our two kids were having a blast playing together. It was hard to end the evening - a perfect balmy Sunday - and they didn't end up leaving until 9:15 or so. I corralled the kids immediately up to bed, but in my haste to make up for the late hour I skipped our routine entirely and B became absolutely hysterical. I knew she was overly tired (guilt guilt guilt) and did my best to keep it together while I got her calmed down and to sleep.

About an hour and a half later, I was getting ready to turn out my own light when I heard blood-curling screaming coming from upstairs. I ran up to B's room and she was backed into a corner of her bed, screaming and thrashing and kicking at anything her legs could reach. She was totally irrational and didn't seem awake although her eyes were open. I couldn't figure out anything that would calm her down. She was absolutely frenzied, screaming about not wanting to do something, refusing to let me get close to her. It was terribly unnerving and I was at my wits' end. About 25 minutes later she just sort of passed out on the floor behind me. I was terrified of waking her up and unleashing the fury again so I went back downstairs and set an alarm for 1:30 to get up and move her to her bed when she was more deeply asleep.

At 1:00 she woke up and it began again. I couldn't get any sense out of her, couldn't figure out what was wrong and again she wouldn't let me comfort her. She was scratching at scabs on her legs and throwing things off her bed. I finally got her calmed down by just turning all the lights off and sitting on her bed without talking and got her back to sleep.

At 4:00 am I heard her coughing and she sounded close by; I went up again and found her asleep right at the edge of the stairs. I knew I couldn't leave her asleep there so I picked her up and ended up just sleeping in her bed with her.

She woke up at her normal time this morning, seemingly completely fine apart from almost entirely hoarse from so much screaming. She didn't remember anything about the night before or being so upset. In fact, she was quite chipper given all the disturbances.

I'd heard of night terrors before and I'm almost certain this is what she experienced. Her age, the amount of time after falling sleep that it began (90 minutes), the nature of her behavior and the fact that she was extremely overtired all lead me to believe it was a night terror. There's apparently no real cure for these, nor much you can do in the event. If your child develops a pattern of them some people have had luck waking the child 15 minutes or so before the usual terror begins and can head it off that way. I hope so much that that was a one-time thing for her. It was so unbelievably upsetting to see her so upset and not be able to accept any comfort from me.

My determination to keep a hold on the routines and fundamental requirements of happy kids is renewed. A later evening every now and then is fine, as long as everyone isn't already running on empty. We're going back to having a mandatory rest period in the afternoons (which is fine while it's so hot outside anyway) and today, to no great surprise, B slept for two hours. I'm hoping that a low key week of sticking close to home and getting plenty of sleep will get us all back on track. I think I'm going to bed when the kids do tonight!

On a slightly more amusing note, the kids were playing our on our porch last night and all three appeared at one point with magic marker (of course it wasn't washable) all over their faces. That's just not the kind of thing I get upset about, and we all laughed and felt relieved no one had to be anywhere looking presentable first thing in the morning. I gave a cursory swipe at the marker before bed but B was still pretty covered in it. The streaks of purple "war paint" didn't make it any less unnerving when I opened her door and she was screaming nonsense like a banshee!!!

Do these two look like trouble or what??

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