Seriously, folks, I can't take it anymore. You may think I'm trying to sound dry or funny for the sake of some stupid blog, but those closest to me that are aware of the extreme situation know that I am on the brink. Of what, I don't know, and maybe as a parent and a control freak that's what scares me the most.
Recently, I had bought him a REWARD CALENDAR. If he could go all night without screaming or crying, he could have a sticker. He was so pumped for this--and seemed to be doing so well. We still had an occasional bad night, but really only once or twice a week. It's not 100% where we want to be, but emotionally it was doable. I don't know what triggered it, but last week nearly every night was bad. Last night was terrible, like tonight---several "episodes" within a short period of time.
I feel like we've asked our pediatricians, other parents, read every internet article, blah, blah, blah. I monitor closely what he's exposed to in books, TV, etc. that may give his subconscious "ammunition" for bad dreams. We're very careful in what we talk about at our house, to make sure nothing is ever said that can be construed as scary or "BAD DREAM MATERIAL". Even over Halloween, I was VERY, VERY careful not to let it be a scary or gruesome holiday experience, but rather a cutesie "dress-up" event. Where do you go, what do you do when no one seems to have the answer? He's been doing this now for a year and a half. I feel like in that time the nights Brett and I have had an uninterrupted night's sleep can be counted on just our hands.
We try to be patient because we know the nightmares are out of his control--even though the morning after he does not remember them, or remember waking, we feel badly for him. We can recall what it was like as little children to wake up and be frightened or anxious. We want our son to feel safe and unafraid. I used to worry that it was also detrimental to his physical health and growth having his sleep interrupted like that but two doctors have told me that his nightterrors are so deep in his subconscious that his body does not register waking up. That was a relief. But, both doctors (and all the internet articles, blah, blah, blah) also tell me that there is no "cure". Other than making sure fuel is not added to the fire by the things he is exposed to, we can only wait it out. That someday he will outgrow this phase, but it could take years. Some children in extreme cases are given sedatives. I honestly feel we have an extreme case. But after talking with doctors, this is a road I absolutely do not want to go down. The risks of a sedative for a child that young (and as small as Wyatt) heavily outweigh the benefits, and the benefits are really for Mom and Dad than the kid, as the kid does not remember waking up, and does not feel the repercussions of the problem. It would be selfish to put Wyatt at risk in any way.
Since September, however, it's gotten worse. We didn't think it could, but it has. The frequency, the intensity. And before, I think we derived some sort of comfort or helped maintain our patience, knowing that it was out of his control. That when he screamed like that, his eyes may be opened, but he's still asleep and dreaming. Lately, that has changed. Some nights, he'll scream and scream and when we go in there, he's fully awake. "I want a drink of water," is his usual excuse in these situations. So we've tried rewarding him for just "quietly coming to get mommy" when he needs us rather than waking the entire household with his yelling. I have to admit that it is beyond difficult to stay patient and loving when time after time you are awakened, sometimes just an hour between episodes, only to find your son is not having a nightmare, but rather, is awake and needs you for some classic childhood excuse--"I'm thirsty." "I'm not tired anymore." "I want to play." "I want to watch a movie."
I LOVE MY SON. I WANT TO HELP HIM. But I feel as though I'm teetering on the edge of a tall, black cliff. And if something doesn't change soon, I'm going to tumble over and downward, never able to make it back.