I am in a state of shock and awe right now- the kind of state that happens when something about your child, something that’s been puzzling you for a long time, something you couldn’t quite put your finger on- suddenly CLICKS, and all of a sudden makes perfect sense. I just had a huge, gigantic, enormous epiphany, and it is all due to Lindsay over at Solo Mama. She and I have long gone back and forth about our respective childrens’ lack of reverence for the Church of Sleep; we have both, at different times, lamented frequent night awakenings, early morning wake-ups, and the lack of availability of an IV coffee drip for sleep-deprived parents, STAT (okay, maybe that one was just me).
So when she recently posted about her daughter’s lack of sleep, again, and I found myself nodding along with every sentence, again, and leaving a comment of support (because what else can we do but hold each other up and offer coffee in our sleep-deprived states?), I wasn’t really thinking anything beyond “yep, agreed, wish my kid would sleep too.” And then, in a follow-up, I mentioned wishing he would stop throwing middle-of-the-night temper tantrums as well. And that is when it hit me.
To begin, I don’t think I’ve talked much about this joyful nightly ritual on here (or if I have, I’m too tired to remember it). Pax not only SUCKS at sleeping through the night, he does so with a certain flair that’s all his own. More nights a week than not, he will wake up at one, or two, or three in the morning if you please, throwing a tantrum- a flat out fit- for NO reason. None. He will scream and cry and thrash like you just beheaded his favorite stuffed animal, but he gets pissed if you try to console him, and pissed if you don’t… it’s insanity. And it’s literally out of nowhere, in the middle of the night, when you’re still half asleep and trying to figure out why your arm won’t move until you realize it’s not your arm, it’s your wife’s, thrown across you… yeah. It’s, um, an experience.
Anyways. I hate to say it but we kind of just figured our kid was being an a-hole who hates sleep. When it happens, he doesn’t want juice or a sippy (and don’t you dare give him a sippy cup during one of these events- he will launch it at your head). As far as we can tell, he isn’t having bad dreams. These aren’t night terrors (very different). He just seems to feel like screaming in the middle of the night, and nothing we can do helps, ever.
So, back to my comment on Lindsay’s post… when I mentioned I wish he would stop throwing temper tantrums at midnight. After that comment, and mostly to make myself feel better (because misery loves company and I wanted proof that other kids do this, too), I googled “toddler temper tantrum middle of night.” And do you know- do you know– what I found?
PARASOMNIAS, that’s what. Specifically, I found the term “confusional arousal,” defined by one website as
episodes [that] begin with crying and thrashing around in bed. The child will appear awake and may look confused or upset. The child often resists attempts to being consoled, and is difficult to wake up. These episodes may last up to half an hour. They usually end with the child calming and returning to a deep sleep. Sometimes, the child may wake briefly, but only wanting to return to sleep.
Holy crap, batman! It’s like someone took Pax and copy-pasted his nocturnal activities on a map for the world to see! Not only are we not alone in having a nighttime terrorist, there’s a legitimate medical condition that our tiny terrorist has that explains WHY he’s a terrorist. Amazing!
Sadly, there seems to be nothing to do but wait out the condition and hope he outgrows it soon, but in the meantime, it is extremely comforting to know there’s an explanation behind his tantrums. We aren’t alone and he’s not just being an a-hole after all (sorry, kid.). Sleep deprivation continues but with the knowledge, now, that there’s a reason behind it. Somehow, that makes it easier to bear.
Thanks Lindsay for the inspiration to google!