Sleep

I’m beginning to think my skills as a mother are directly related to how well my girls sleep. And let me remind you, they sleep really crappy.

Last night Eric stopped home from the hospital for dinner around 5:30pm, which was nice as he ate dinner with us, but he had to go back in around 7pm as he was on call, and didn’t get back home for the night until 10:30pm. Meaning, I was on my own for bedtime with the girls. Normally in these cases I give Nora (5) the iPad and let her watch something while I read to Nadia (4) and get her settled. Then once Nadia is sleeping I comfort Nora a bit before she falls asleep. Well, Nadia being so difficult in general lately, was not having bedtime last night. I started around 7pm when Eric left. At 8:45pm Nadia was still jumping on her bed screaming that she did NOT want to sleep in her bed. She wanted to lay in my lap all night while I rocked her. But yeah, that wasn’t going to work. Nora kept coming into Nadia’s room, asking when I’d be in with her. So basically they were both crying/complaining until late. I gave up at 9pm, exhausted and utterly frustrated. I can’t be in both their bedrooms at once, so I moved their sleeping area to the lower level family room. I laid down their comfy mats, threw them each a pillow and told them to sleep. Nora was out pretty quickly. Nadia had trouble still, as I think she has horrible allergies on top of all her other issues. I gave her Children’s Xyzal and quickly after that she was sleeping. Of course around 2am Nora woke crying, probably noticing she was in a strange place for sleep… I frantically ran to the basement as I didn’t want her to wake Nadia. Which meant I fell asleep on the floor between them until my alarm went off at 6:30am. At least we got some sleep I guess. But what do I do tonight? Keep them together again?? Have them try sharing a bedroom again? Ugh.

Sleep!

It’s Friday! And Nadia slept from around 8pm last night until 5am. I didn’t exactly want to get up at 5am, but sleeping through the night is huge for her. I had a feeling the night was going to suck, as she fell asleep on me around 4pm, but I woke her before 5.

The girls are home again today with me, even though our COVID was negative and they are mostly just still a bit stuffy. They will both go back to school Monday, I pray. They haven’t been to the dentist in forever and were due around March when the world seemed to shut down. Thus our appointments have been rescheduled and rescheduled I don’t know how many times. So today is the day. Pray for me. Seriously. I have no idea what Nadia will be wearing. Much less if she will even let me brush her teeth before we go. I really, really dread this. I should have tried to make the appointments when Eric could have gone with us, but… such is life.

Sensory Processing Disorder

I finished another book over the weekend, “The Out-of-Sync Child” by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. A physical therapist friend recommended it, so Keri, if you’re reading this, thank you so much, it was an extremely helpful book!

The first part of the book offered a questionaire to gage your child’s symptoms, and obviously is in no way 100% accurate, but it gave me some insight… Nadia scored high, meaning possible issues in a few areas… touch, sleeping, and social-emotional described her issues very well. The book had a ton of information, and I won’t even try to explain what each of those mean in technical/medical terms, as I’m not sure I fully understand myself.

The book was not awesome at, although very good at, suggesting ways to overcome sensory issues. However, most of the best forms of treatment involve professional therapy by an occupational therapist. This didn’t surprise me in the least, as we received a referral to OT back in August from Nadia’s pediatrician. Problem is, there are very, very few pediatric OTs in our area, and then COVID-19 made getting medical help even harder. I know we are still on the wait list for an evaluation, but who knows when we will be called to schedule such. And, that reminds me, Nadia’s eye exam keeps getting pushed out further and further as well.

So for now, I guess I wait, and try to learn as much as I can on my own. I have another book to read on the topic, and a few others I might look into purchasing. We have been giving Nadia, well, and Nora, magnesium each night, and by golly, the shit must really work as Nadia has been sleeping through the night ever since! No seriously people, I swear it must be a miracle drug or something! The girls do take vitamins, but just some random gummy vitamins that I see don’t actually contain any magnesium. I guess I should research a better kid’s vitamin, although it has to taste great or I assume my girls will reject it… Any suggestions?

Another Good Night!

Nadia slept almost through the night last night. She woke at 5am. I tried to get her back to sleep but failed until I finally crawled into her bed with her, and then she slept from maybe 5:45am until a little after 7am. So still a huge improvement over our previous years of her existence! She did nap an hour today, but then I couldn’t get her to sleep until almost 8:30pm tonight. So we’ll see how tonight goes…

All Night!!!

So get this… A lovely lady commented on my post yesterday suggesting I give Nadia a magnesium containing product. I, of course, went to our pharmacy yesterday and found it. As I’m desperate to try anything. I gave it to both the girls before bed last night. AND NADIA SLEPT THE ENTIRE NIGHT. Okay, I did go down to her bedroom once to cover her back up, but she went right back to sleep. That was it! One cover up! Miracle product? Coincidence? I guess we’ll see how tonight goes…

Sleep

I miss sleep so much!

Last night I was awake from 11pm to 2am with Nadia. She initially woke at 11am for whatever reason I have no idea. She wakes so many times each night and clearly can’t put herself back to sleep. I sat beside her bed thinking she would go right back to sleep as she sometimes does… but all the sudden it was midnight and she was still awake. Then she started screaming that “it hurts,” pointing down, so I assumed she had to pee. She peed and then continued to scream, it hurts, it hurts. It can’t hurt, we have checked off every possible medical issue she could have related to peeing and pooping. But yet she often screams after peeing. She will even insist on wiping herself sometimes 10 times or more, or ask me to wipe her again and again. Then will all the sudden be fine. In my attempts to calm her though, she started in with insisting the long sleeves of her nightgown weren’t long enough, another common cause for Nadia to scream. It took me an hour to calm her and only after I crawled into her bed with her. Then… she laid awake until after 2am picking her lips, tossing and turning… She slept until almost 730am but that obviously wasn’t enough sleep for her.

I’m on my second sleep help guide book, but nothing I’m trying is working. And I’m becoming more and more convinced some of her issues are sensory related, particularly touch related. Of course… still waiting for her therapy consult. I ordered some books on sensory issues, which should arrive tomorrow.

What am I doing wrong with this child?? She won’t sleep, her tantrums are getting worse and worse, sometimes no matter what I do I can’t calm her… Parenting her is so incredibly difficult and stressful for me… I’m at a complete loss with her so often, and obviously now with COVID-19 I can’t easily get into her pediatrician or other specialist for help.

Children & Social Isolation

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Social Isolation Day 39 – Sleep Issues

I think it’s day 39 of social isolation… who knows. I don’t even know what day if the week it is… Eric is on-call and currently at the hospital so it’s just me and girls passing away the hours. It must be Saturday as Nora was supposed to have dance via Zoom this morning, but she refused and I didn’t force the issue. I don’t want her to end up hating dance. Perhaps we try again next year when she can physically be in the studio again.

Sleep is still a huge issue in this house… And the more I think about it, the more I think maybe now wasn’t the best time to sleep train the girls into staying in their own beds all night… at a time when their schedules and routines are very messed up. But what does that mean? Going back to crawling into bed with them? I was getting more sleep that way… even if we were instilling bad habits. I don’t know… I’ve had an AWFUL headache for two days now. And I never get headaches. I blame lack of sleep. And stress too I suppose.

Something else occurred to me this morning regarding the girls sleep. They hate their bedrooms, probably one of the reasons they hate sleeping alone in their rooms. Since they were little I’ve always made sure their rooms were just for naps and sleeping. We’ve never had any toys in their rooms, other than books we read at bedtime. Is it possible I’ve turned them against their rooms? Should I try to incorporate daily play a bit into their rooms, so they are more comfortable with the space? They basically are never in their rooms except at bedtime… and their rooms are on a separate level from the master, so a bit of a walk to Eric and I in the middle of the night. Maybe they just feel too isolated. Another reason I want to move, to establish comfortable, homey spaces in a permanent setting…

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Anxious Children

I knew as soon as Nadia came home from the NICU she was an anxious child. She tested me every single day that first year, and still does multiple times a day now. Of course, I blame it on her brain-bleed at birth, but I realize many, many children without such a history have anxious or OCD-like tendencies. Parenting her some days though feels impossible and overwhelming.

Side note, my MOPs group is currently meeting online, and normally I would love to see those ladies, but I just can’t today. I’m tired, neither of the girls slept all that well last night, and I spent the past hour forcing both of them to enjoy their preschool zoom sessions.

I’m always looking for the next great book to teach me something useful. But… I’ve learned 90% of the books I think are going to be awesome are actually common sense, and therefore worthless. I’m currently reading How to Parent Your Anxious Toddler by Natasha Daniels. I’m just getting to the chapter focused on separation anxiety, although the preceding chapters all confirmed that Nadia is certainly an anxious child.

I was rather fed up most of yesterday, sick of rarely to never getting a good night of sleep. Ha good, not even decent most nights. So I decided, no more crawling into the girls beds, no more allowing them to crawl into ours. But how…?

I started with Nadia (3) last night, as I usually put her to bed; if Eric is home, he will put Nora (5) to bed. The nights suck when it’s just me, although after Eric is sleeping, if both wake at the same time, as they often do, it’s usually just me anyway, as he hears nothing.

Twice before bedtime yesterday I explained to Nadia how bedtime would go… I told her I would sit beside her bed until she fell asleep (small steps at first) but I would not get into her bed, nor would I hold her hand or rub her back. I told her she was a big girl and needed to learn to put herself to sleep without my help and stay in her own bed all night. I still gave her 1mg of melatonin last night, which I don’t love doing, but every doctor I’ve ever asked tells me it’s harmless, and it certainly speeds up the time she is awake in bed initially.

So fast forward to bedtime, around 7:30pm… You aren’t going to believe this, but Nadia laid right down, I covered her up, and she fell asleep on her own within a few minutes. I snuck out of her room and thought, hum, that was easy. Too easy. I’m not sure exactly how Eric got Nora to sleep, but he was out of her room shortly after I was out of Nadia’s, so it felt like a win.

Around 11pm Nadia started getting restless in her bed, kicking and crying. I raced down, not because I want to rescue her every time she makes a noise, but because I didn’t want her waking Nora, as it’s hard to get both back to sleep on my own. (We used to use sound machines in their rooms, but they both now refuse them being turned on.) Before I even got to Nadia’s room, Nora was awake and screaming for me. Thankfully Eric wasn’t quite asleep, so he handled Nora. Nadia was having a night terror, which she does suffer from randomly, although more so lately. I stayed with her for a few minutes until she calmed down, I covered her back up, and went back to bed. Somehow Eric got Nora back to sleep rather quickly too.

At 3:30am Nora woke and started screaming for me, of course waking Nadia. I alternated between rooms trying to get both to chill and lay down until finally I woke up Eric to help. Again, Nadia laid down fairly easily and went back to sleep on her own. Nora finally fell back to sleep as well.

5:00am brought another round of Nora screaming. Again, I got Nadia back to sleep rather quickly, but Nora was not calming, kept screaming, thus Eric brought her to our room, which is on another level of the house, hoping that would allow Nadia to stay sleeping, which she did until 7:30am. Eric got up for work then so I stayed with Nora in our bed… a fail there. What else do you do with a five year-old who is loud and won’t stop crying?

I’ve been asking her for days what is wrong, what is bothering her, what is scary to her… All she says is she doesn’t want to be alone in her room. We obviously sneak out once she is sleeping, so when she wakes alone, she freaks. Keep in mind, she wasn’t doing this until a few weeks ago, before social isolation she was my awesome sleeper, allowing us to leave her room when she was still wide awake and sleeping all night in her own room. Which makes this even more frustrating to me now.

I’m hoping to finish the book today, praying it provides even one idea which proves helpful. Do I just keep trying with Nadia and then move onto getting Nora to fall asleep alone? But how? Nora even screams if she is in our bed but I’m not cuddling her. She is so weird and different lately… I’ve thought of things to try, but I fear I’ll make the situation worse… What about a treasure chest of small toys? They would get to pick one on the mornings they slept the entire night in their own beds. Obviously slowly phase out giving gifts once they are sleeping in their own beds every night. Or, if Nora keeps being extremely difficult, let her sleep on the floor next to our bed, but not with us, should she wake in the middle of the night? But is that just enabling her more? I don’t know, I just want a solution that actually works!!!

Slowly Losing My Mind

Have you ever felt like you’re slowly losing your mind? Maybe it’s the anxiety I suffered from long before the term social distancing was a part of my vocabulary.

Is it possible for children to be too attached to their parents? I feel like mine are. And their constant need to physically cling to my body is diving me mad. I don’t even get alone time at night as neither seems to sleep unless with me. Last night Nadia woke around midnight, I covered her back up, and she fairly quickly fell back asleep. I was almost back to my bed when I heard Nora crying for me. I raced to her room for fear she would wake Nadia, and then I’d have a real conundrum on my hands. Nora was teary-eyed and seemed scared, of what she didn’t know. So I climbed into her bed and we both fell asleep. Fast forward two hours and I’m awoken to Nadia crying for mommy. Of course this woke Nora, as I was still in her bed… so Nora and I moved into Nadia’s bed. Nadia insisted on sleeping on top of me, while Nora really wanted me to cuddle with her too, which ended with the two of them literally fighting over space on my body to touch. Is it any surprise I woke up exhausted?

The girls have been extremely needy today, crying at the drop of a Lego and fighting non-stop. As I type I hear Nora crying, “Nadia is being mean to me again, she pinched me!” Clearly I need to read some parenting books as nothing I’m currently doing is working to stop this constant fighting and screaming. Eric is always quick to send them to their rooms, but I never see any change in behavior, AND I hate to think we are teaching them that going to their bedrooms is punishment.

I’m basically counting the minutes until Eric is home from work, and in the meantime trying to find a few minutes here and there to clean the new pile of dishes towering in the sink.

Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.

Ray Romano