Friday, January 8, 2010

Figured it out....hopefully!

Well for about the last week Little Man has woke up screaming every night between 10-11:30 p.m. I usually try to let him cry it out, which in the past has worked. He'd fuss for a maximum of 5 minutes and gfro right back to bed....and it was just a small soft fuss. But like I said this last week he is SCREAMING. A blood curdling scream, the first time I sat and listened in shock when I heard it and then raced up the stairs. He was tossing wildly in his crib. When I reached out to touch him he scream louder. I tried to hold him, he'd arch his back and flip out of my arms. His sweet eyes that are usually so full of love were glossed over and seemed full of hatred. He seriously seemed possessed. There was absolutely no soothing my baby. My heart would just ache for him. What did I do wrong, why wouldn't he let me hold him, why wasn't my voice comforting him? After a few nights of torture and not knowing what to do, I surrendered. I sat one night in my bed while he laid up in his screaming and watched the clock. The minutes ticked by, after about 25 minutes (by this time he had just started coughing) I headed up the stairs. I got him some warm milk in a bottle and took it in with high hopes of being able to calm him down. Milk always works magic with my babies. However this night it had lost it's charm. He threw the bottle across the room and just glared at me with those bloodshot glazed eyes. They reminded me of a much older man's eyes. A man who had a life we would never want to believe existed and the only way for him to escape was through the use of drugs....that's what my baby's eyes reminded me of. I couldn't take it any longer. I put him back in his bed, placed his bottle beside him, and closed the door. I collapsed in the hallway. What could I do? I prayed. Prayed that whatever was happening would pass. If I was the one causing my baby such pain that I could change whatever needed it. I prayed for peace. Nothing happened immediately. Another 5 or 10 minutes passed with him screaming. Then he stopped. The next night it happened again. I knew there was nothing I could do, so I let him scream. After what feels like hours of screaming I began to question myself again...was I being a neglectful and selfish momma as I let him scream and I just sit there? Was I causing him some sort of pain and that is why I couldn't comfort him? My head was ready to explode...Then it hit me, maybe all of this is a night terror. I've heard a little about them, my friend's daughter experienced head raced with how they treated it...was there something about music?? I couldn't remember. Then he stopped, so I decided to sleep and think about it the next day. The next day came, and of course with my "perfect" memory his episode didn't even cross my mind. After a few more days, these outburst of screaming that lasted about 30 minutes just seemed to become part of our nightly routine. Every night between 10 and 11:30 Little Man would scream.

During this same time, Little Man has refused REFUSED his 2nd nap of the day. It really doesn't work out very well for anyone. He used to take his first nap around 9, 9:30 and then his second around 2. So around 2 I lay him in his bed. He fights it and plays and talks. I don't mind that because eventually he'll take his nap...but after about 30 minutes of play he cries to get out. I'm not a mom who just gives in when baby cries. I let him cry, I go check on him after a while to make sure he is ok and kiss his cheeks and cover him with the blankie, but he needs his nap and I'm not going to give in. Until he cries for over an hour...then I'll give in with a bottle. He's quiet and I think I've won, until 20 minutes pass by (about the time for him to drink the bottle) and he's crying again. By this time he's been in bed over 2 hours. I give in. I take him out and let him play with his big sister.
It's very stressful for him as well as the rest of us when he misses his naps. He's fussy and that makes for one stressed out mommy and a frustrated sister. I still try each day on the same schedule but there's no having it, he simply won't take a nap.

Last night when Little Man started screaming at 10:26 I was exhausted..."not tonight Little Man, mommy doesn't have energy for this". I layed in bed while he scream for 34 minutes (I did time it, how can you not?!)...the tears started down my cheeks...this wasn't just a phase, I should take him to the doctor, get him a blessing from my dad, clear his energy, I needed to find a solution a treatment for this. I walked in his room and tried to hold him, he flipped out of my arms and onto my legs. I placed him back in his bed where he'd be safer than me dropping him and rubbed his back. My touch seemed to irritate him more. He rolled over and glared at me with those eyes. Those awful eyes. I couldn't take it, but I couldn't leave. I tried singing "I am a Child of God", he scream louder. I rubbed his forehead and he smacked my arm. He started to calm down slightly...this was the longest episode he'd had to date. I figured I'd get him some milk to comfort him. When I got back to his room he was screaming again. After an hour of him screaming I thought that maybe if I forced the bottle in his mouth and held it there he'd eventually latch on and calm down. BAD IDEA!! He freaked out! I didn't know what to do, I again decided it best if I leave and let him cry before I get too worn out and frustrated. I came to my laptop and searched night terrors. I hate to self diagnose things without fully understanding I'd better find out before I just assume this is what it is. Here's what I found on

Night terrors are a common sleep problem among children. By some estimates, about 15% of younger children have occasional night terrors. Although most common in children between the ages of 2 and 6 years, they can occur at almost any age.

Although usually considered to be normal or benign, they are often very scary and distressing to parents who often overreact, especially during a child's first night terror.


When you hear how most experts describe night terrors, it is easy to see why parents find them distressing. Children who have night terrors are usually described as 'bolting upright' with their eyes wide open, with a look of fear and panic, and letting out a 'blood curdling scream'. These kids will usually also be sweating, breathing fast and have a rapid heart rate (autonomic signs). And although it will seem like they are awake, during a night terror, children will appear confused, will not be consolable and won't recognize you.

Typical night terrors last about 5 to 30 minutes and afterwards, children usually return to a regular sleep. If you are able to wake your child up during a night terror, he is likely to become scared and agitated, mostly because of your own reaction to the night terror, especially if you were shaking or yelling at him to wake up. Instead of trying to wake up a child having a night terror, it is usually better to just make sure he is safe, comfort him if you can, and help him return to sleep once it is over.


The diagnosis of night terrors is usually made by the history of a child 'waking' early in the night screaming and being inconsolable. Night terrors are most often confused with nightmares, but unlike night terrors, a child having a nightmare is usually easily woken up and comforted.

The other worry for many parents is that these episodes are a type of seizure. Although different types of partial seizures, including temporal lobe and frontal lobe epilepsy, can appear similar to night terrors, they are usually brief (30 seconds to a few minutes) and are more common in older children and adults.


No treatment is usually necessary for routine night terrors. Since they are often triggered in children who are overtired, sticking to a good bedtime routine and making sure your child is getting enough rest can help to prevent them.

For children who get frequent night terrors, it might help to wake your child up before the time that he usually has a night terror. This is thought to interrupt or alter the sleep cycle and prevent night terrors from occuring (it also works for sleepwalking).

Rarely, sleep medications might be used for a short time if your child gets very frequent night terrors.

What You Need To Know

  • Night terrors are also called sleep terrors or pavor nocturnus.

  • Similar to sleepwalking and sleeptalking, night terrors are considered to be a disorder of arousal and are a partial arousal from non-REM sleep.

  • Unlike a nightmare, children usually don't recall having a night terror.

  • Also unlike nightmares, night terrors usually occur in the early part of the night, about 1 to 4 hours after going to sleep.

  • If your child gets night terrors, make sure that baby sitters and other caregivers are aware of them and know what they should do if one occurs.

  • Most children outgrow night terrors as they get older.
(I highlighted the symptoms of Little Man and italicized the things for a parent to do.) Every thing that I saw in Little Man was listed there...Every symptom listed we'd experienced. I seriously felt so much better after reading this site. Then I went to wikipedia, which said basically the same thing. Then I visited webMD and searched it there...everything was the same. I'm certain that this is what Little man is experiencing, night terrors. When I read about the causes for night terrors, it all made sense. He isn't getting the sleep during the day that his little growing body needs. Today we will try a different nap schedule. Wish us luck, I hope and pray this works and that he can go back to taking 2 naps and avoid those awful awakenings.

Update: After waking Little Man up at 6:00a.m. the last 2 mornings so he's dying to take that 2nd nap, he's slept through the night!! Not one peep out of him! YAY!! I surely don't want to jinx myself with this, but I'm happy for the 2 peaceful nights, and that extra nap each day!!


Anonymous said...

You can also try the white noise player located at

Chad, Krissie, Sotera & Slade said...

Blah, I am so sorry, you know Sotera had these for a while between 2-3...She had one or two a week for about 6 months. Luckily she hasn't had one for a really long time. If you can't get him to take a 2nd nap, seriously try waking him up right before 10 when he usually starts the terror!! I also had a CD that we started putting on at night. I can't recall the name of it...We have it boxed up somewhere?? But it has a heartbeat in the background of all the nursery songs. And all the songs were really soft & quiet. It just happened to work for her! I'll try to look for it, if I find it I will send it to you! I'm so sorry, there is nothing scarier!! Sotera was old enough where after the terror she would be kind of awake & I could lay with her. But during the terror you are just helpless, because there's nothing rational in them!! They are convinced of what they are seeing! Sotera's were always snakes crawling up the walls & in her bed for some reason!! I hated it!!! I hope it gets better! I LOVE YOU!!! Sorry for the novel!

Lindsay Family said...

I am so sorry. I can't even imagine what you are going through. Good luck. I am praying for you as well.