So there’s this book. It’s written in the style of a children’s book but it’s not for children. It’s a parent talking to their child begging them to go to sleep. It has bad words in it. I don’t use those bad words but my 12-year-old self thinks it’s hilarious. And my 37-year-old self thinks it dead on! If you’ve ever had difficulty getting your child, or any child for that matter, to go to sleep then you might appreciate this book. If you can get past the language. I don’t want to offend anyone in the Blog-asphere so I’m not going to post a link to it. If you’re feeling rebellious and want to take a walk on the wild side let me know and I’ll clue you in. *wink*
Up until recently I completely hated bed time. It was the most stressful, drawn out, painful event. Of my life! There were almost always tears involved. And sometimes the kids would cry too. Yes, it was that bad. There was no routine in the
world universe that could make bed time work for us. And I was losing my mind.
I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t because we have so many kids. It was all because of one child. That I love dearly. But he was killing me. Matt has never been one to sleep well. As a matter of fact, I’m not even sure he sleeps at all. No wait…he does. But I think he waits until about 45 minutes before it’s time to get up. Then he won’t wake up. Ugh. He was born 5 weeks premature and, although perfectly healthy otherwise, had some fluid on his lungs. He spent the first 9 days of his life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Apparently that’s where he acquired the motto of ‘Sleep? Who needs it’. Apparently NICU babies grow accustomed to all the soft light and noise that goes on all during the night. And then they expect that to continue when they get home. He also had sleep apnea and came home with a heart/apnea monitor. He was attached to this thing for 6 months and would make this horrible ear-splitting noise when he stopped breathing for a certain amount of time or his heart rate slowed. Or when the sensor pad moved off of his skin. Which was why it went off the majority of the time. He also had what the doctor called “night terrors”. It’s like a nightmare but not. They start crying like they are awake but they aren’t. You can’t wake them up during one so you just stand there with your hand on his chest and wait for it to stop. They are terrifying, which might be how they got their name. Luckily, the child has no recollection of them the next day. That pleasure is reserved for the mommy (or daddy in some households). Matt never really was the best sleeper-through-the night but the real problems started when he graduated to the toddler bed. It didn’t matter in the crib. He couldn’t get out. Once he figured out that he could get in and out of the tiny little bed all by himself all bets were off. The child would not go to sleep. I would start the bedtime routine at 8 and he might have been asleep by 12:30. He would call my name, repeatedly. Ask for water, repeatedly. Ask amazingly awesome questions that I would need Google and a PhD to answer. He would want me to read a bajillion books. It didn’t matter what time he woke up either…wake him up at 7, he still would stay up till midnight. I was going crazy. The whole situation was stressful in and of itself. It didn’t help that his dad would get very angry when Matt didn’t go to sleep like he was supposed to. That added even more pressure on me which lead me to give in to Matt’s whims to keep him quiet so his dad wouldn’t get mad. That certainly didn’t help the situation and turned it into a different kind of problem. A few years went by, I was now single, and the problem still persisted. It would get better then it would get bad again. I finally talked to his doctor about it because I just knew there was something wrong with him. It just didn’t seem right for a young child to have the type of sleeping patterns he did. The doctor said it was a discipline problem~ ‘Give him consequences and he’ll get better’. I was so disappointed. And I knew the doctor was wrong. Ask me if it got better. Go ahead. Ask me. NO! It didn’t. It seemed to get worse.
A couple more years went by. We have a great bedtime routine in place in our new home with our new family. Matt still won’t sleep. He constantly gets out of bed, knocks softly on our door and asks completely random questions.
Matt~ “Mom, is it going to be cold tomorrow?”
Me~ “No, you can wear short sleeves. Now go back to bed please.”
A few minutes later…soft knock on the door
Matt~ “What about tomorrow’s tomorrow?”
Me~ “We’ll deal with that later go to bed.”
A few minutes later…the 6th soft knock on the door
Me~ “OMG, what?”
Matt~ “When we went to Disney World last summer what was the name of that guy that helped us on the Space Mountain ride? I can’t remember.”
Me~ “GO TO BED!!!!”
I’m not kidding. This is what we went through every single night. On top of the constant knocks on the door and random requests and questions he would have complete and utter meltdowns when told to go to bed and given consequences. And it didn’t stop there. The meltdowns would continue the next morning as well. He would be so tired when it was time to get up from not sleeping much the night before. I would have to dress him and he would fall asleep in the car on the way to school. Well, when he wasn’t sobbing and getting angry at everyone in the car.
There was one night in particular that I had my own complete and utter meltdown. I was completely stressed out. Once the kids go to bed it’s supposed to be my time. This is the only time of the day that Gary and I have to focus on each other. Instead, we had this little guy coming in every few minutes stalling for time. I was completely stressed out. Not only did I dread having to deal with Matt avoiding sleep every night but I worried Gary would get angry and that stressed me out even further. Gary never did get angry. But I had been conditioned over the last several years to expect that from your husband. It all came crashing down on me that night. I was standing in Matt’s room telling him that he needed to ‘get in that bed and stay in that bed and you need to just close your eyes and go to sleep’. And as he lay there in tears listening to me with his little arms crossed in disobedience I dissolved into tears myself. I couldn’t even finish my sentence. I just turned around and walked away. I sat down on my bed and started sobbing. Gary got Matt to sleep that night. There’s just something about a strong, loving man who can get kids to listen when their mom [or bonus mom] can’t. From that night on Gary took care of that situation. I would say Matt’s prayers with him, kiss him good night and walk away. Matt still would come knock softly on our door but Gary would talk with him. Not me. And it got a little better. But there were still meltdowns. At this time Matt was being evaluated by the school psychologist because his teacher had seen some signs of Dyslexia. I decided she needed to know about his sleeping issues. I didn’t know if it had anything to do with Dyslexia but I wanted her to know. She was really glad that I shared this with her and added it into her notes. After months of observations in the classroom and one-on-one time in her office the psychologist called me in to go over her report which I then took to his doctor. It wasn’t Dyslexia after all. Matt was diagnosed with ADHD. We also found out that Matt has ADHD induced insomnia. You have no idea how badly I wanted to stand up and scream “I knew it!! I told you there was something wrong with him!!!!” in Dr. Cabiness’ face. But I love him too much to do that so I sat quietly as he explained everything to me. Matt’s brain won’t shut off so he lays there thinking about all this stuff and he can’t fall asleep. This totally explains why he wants to know what weather is going to be like on tomorrow’s tomorrow and what the dude at Space Mountain’s name was. I felt this huge weight being lifted off my shoulders. It was all going to be ok. Dr. Cabiness suggested a natural supplement that helps you sleep called Melatonin. We were instructed to give Matt a half of a 3mg pull about an hour before bedtime. I was willing to try anything at this point so I picked some up on the way home! We gave it to him about eight that night and by 8:30 he was so calm and quiet and by 9:00 he was almost asleep on my lap. When bed time actually came around he climbed in bed and we never heard a word out of him again that night. He was sound asleep in less than 20 minutes. I could not believe my eyes. Then it hit me. “Wait, you mean all these years and all I needed to do was give him half of this little pill and he’ll go straight to sleep? If I had only known.” Matt actually got complete, full nights of sleep. And because of that he would actually wake up in the morning. Cheerfully! Well, most mornings. His meltdowns went away almost completely. We still have some rough days. But don’t we all.
I don’t dread bed time anymore. I finally get to relax and enjoy the time Gary and I have to focus on each other once the kids have gone to bed. And when I count my blessings each night Melatonin is always in the top 10.