Our nights over here at the Bradshaw house haven't been as peaceful as we'd like them to be! I am pretty certain that I have blogged before about Liam's sleeping trouble and how he's been having difficulty sleeping soundly through the night for about seven or eight months. It's been something that we have been going through for a while now, but instead of getting better, I feel like Liam's sleeping issues are getting worse. Let me explain by giving a little history.
We weaned Liam off of the pacifier last February. He did amazingly well with getting rid of it, and right off the bat he slept great. I was expecting screaming fits for nights on end, but the first week or so it was like a dream. About a month after taking away the paci, Liam started waking at night. My memories have faded, but I think there was some sickness, some teething, and just some two-year-old sleep battles that were taking place, so we didn't really think there was much of a "real" issue with his sleeping. He would wake up sometimes in the middle of the night, and Jonathan would go comfort him to get him to go back to sleep. I was quite pregnant at the time, so getting out of the bed was much easier for Jonathan than me. I was thankful for his help, but it quickly became apparent that we were starting a pattern with Liam that when he woke up and screamed in the night, Daddy would come, cover him up, sing to him, and back to sleep Liam would go. After a few weeks of this and some escalation as to how many times a night Liam was waking, I told Jonathan that I thought Liam just needed to cry it out in the middle of the night. We were less than two months away from a newborn coming, so our sleep disruption would be bad enough without having to tend to Liam as well. We tried that. Some nights it worked, some nights it didn't. I remember a time somewhere in those months where Liam would throw all out fits, with his ear-piercing shrieking screams. We went back and forth...what do we do? do we discipline? how do you rationalize with an almost 2-year old? is he sick? is he scared? is this disobedience or true problems that we need to care for?
So, to make a long story short, we've been battling this for months. Once Stella came, this continued, and she turned out to be an AMAZING sleeper from the beginner. I really feel that was a gift from the Lord because Liam was having more sleep trouble than ever. I don't know that there was a night where Jonathan didn't go into his room at least once, most times just to say, "Daddy's here." He'd cover Liam up and climb back into bed.
Stella is now five months old, and I would say over the past two months or so we have started to think that maybe Liam has nightmares sometimes. There have been a few instances where he's woken in the middle of the night and wasn't easily consoled like usual. I have even heard him through the monitor cry out in his sleep about different things that have made me think he was having a bad dream. This was confirmed when we were in Disney World. Liam slept with us on a pallet on the floor, but there were a few nights that he ended up in between us. He woke up several times on that trip with nightmares, but he was definitely easily consoled by one of us.
Once we arrived back from Disney, we had to deal with getting him used to sleeping in his own bed again. That first night back was really rough....he was exhausted and very unhappy to be back to reality. A few nights ago, I believe that Liam had a night terror. He may have had one of these before, but I've really been trying to pay more attention to what's happening with him at night, and I think what we experienced was much more severe than what we've seen from him before. Liam woke up around 2 am, and Jonathan immediately went to him. His crying was very loud and very constant. I usually am able to fade back to sleep once Jonathan gets up, but Liam's crying didn't stop for about wo minutes. Liam was calling for me, so I went in and found my boys on the floor, Jonathan cuddling Liam and asking him what was wrong. He just kept repeating, "I want Momma, I want Momma." I took Liam in my lap, asked him what the matter was, asked him to talk to us, but he just kept crying and kept asking for me. His eyes were wide open, he seemed awake, but he wasn't really responding to us as usual. This went on for a few minutes, and then suddenly we were able to draw him out of it, he told us he was ready to go back to bed, so we laid him down and left the room.
I went back to sleep, but as I thought about what happened the next morning, I began to wonder if Liam had a night terror. I asked about night terrors on Facebook to see if others had children with them, and many friends seemed to confirm that it sounds like Liam may have them. Do I think that the night terrors are what he has every night? No. There was definitely a distinction in his behavior when he would not be consoled. I think I am going to talk to our pediatrician about it all and see what input he has. In the mean time, I have had several friends recommend that I cut out sugar and chocolate if possible from his diet in the evenings. We'll see if that helps him at all.
Ugh, it's hard. I have to confess that it gets OLD having to go in there. I really struggle with compassion toward him in this area because I don't understand why he wakes up so much. The questions that have run through my mind over the past few months include: Is this an inability to comfort himself? Is this a behavior issue? Does this all stem from us taking the paci away or him struggling to adjust to the new baby and all of the life changes? Is he just spoiled and have we just established a bad pattern that we can't break? Will this ever end? I know the night terrors are legitimate and are something outside of Liam's control. Really, this is just my selfishness at work in me.
I need to be compassionate and caring to Liam, even in the middle of the night. I want to be this way. I know in my head that he won't always do this. I know he WILL sleep again, and so will we. This is part of parenthood, and we are called to care selflessly for our children every day, no matter the situation. I thank the Lord that He has sustained Jonathan and I all of these months. A year ago, having disrupted sleep really affected me during the day more than it does now. God has been so kind to give me energy that I can't explain. Does that mean that I am always kind, energetic, and spunky with my kids? NO. Does that mean that I don't still get tired? Definitely not. But, I know that the Lord is carrying us through this season and that He will continue to give us the strength we need and the ability to care for Liam. I am praying for wisdom on how to handle each night on a day by day basis. I do know that our God is the God of peace and comfort, and that this is an opportunity for us to point Liam to the Lord. We sing "Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus" to Liam every night before bed and oftentimes in the middle of the night. I desire that the way we comfort him reflects mercy and gentleness and peace, pointing him toward Jesus.
So, if you have any input or similar experiences, I would love for you to share with me! This is uncharted territory, and I just cry out the God for wisdom. Also, if you would please pray for Liam. We love our little man so much! Thank you so much.