Friday, July 10, 2009

We'll Sleep When We're Dead

My 3-year-old has decided that sleep is for losers.

Because for the past three nights, she has woken up anywhere from three to five times during the night, each time staying awake for hours at a time, crying and screaming hysterically. She needs to go potty. I go bring her to the potty and put her bad in bed, but she wants me to stay with her and cries when I go back to bed. Then she cries that she has to go potty AGAIN 10 minutes later, and when I don't come get her, it turns into screams of terror because she thinks there is a monster in her room. When that goes unanswered, she tries the potty tactic again, and then starts with "it's too dark in my room!" despite the nightlight right next to her bed that illuminates the whole room.

I lay in my bed, listening to her anguish, my stomach in knots and my heart breaking with each wail. I do everything in my power to keep myself in the bed and not upstairs to rescue her from her room and bring her to my bed where she will find peace. When she finally ends up in complete hysterics, I go up to try to soothe her and convince her that she needs to sleep in her own bed and that she is keeping everyone awake with her crying. She asks me to spray the "monster spray" that we have especially for keeping fears away, so I do. She clings to me, pulls me to her bed and begs me to take her downstairs. I lay with her for a few minutes, stroking her cheek and running my fingers through her hair, and as I see her eyelids begin to droop, I ease myself out of the bed.

But then she wakes up and begins crying. And the cycle starts all over again.

This went on from 3 a.m. last night until 5:30 when I finally went and got her out of bed and let her sit on the couch and watch television. I just couldn't listen to her cry anymore. I feel like the worst mother ever, letting my kid cry rather than let her sleep in my bed, but I don't want to lose this fight. We want her to sleep in her own bed, and I know if we let her sleep in ours that she won't learn to feel safe on her own and it will be a bigger fight down the road to break the habit. But I have run out of tactics and know that I can't go on much longer like this. I am sleep deprived, frustrated and angry, which is not a good combination. I am having a hard time concentrating during the day and my patience is wearing thin because I am so tired.

I need some advice. Please, if you have any words of wisdom about toddlers and night waking, I would greatly appreciate you sharing it. We already do a soothing bedtime routine, she goes to bed nice and early, we spray lavender spray in the room to calm her and keep the "monsters" away, and she gets soothing music. When she wakes up, I let her cry unless she needs to go the the bathroom, and then I go bring her to the bathroom and put her back in bed. I soothe her, tell her there is nothing to be afraid of and that mommy and daddy are right downstairs and she is safe. Then I leave her to her crying until she gets too hysterical and if I think she is really getting out of control, I go back to check on her and soothe her a bit more. Is there anything else I can try? Should I completely ignore her crying and never go see to her unless she is sick or hurt? What else can I do?

Please help. I know there is probably no magic answer for this problem, but if you have any suggestions or things that have worked for you and your children, I would love to hear it.

Thank you from this very tired mommy.