Autism · family · Life · Sleep · WTeF

RE: Autism – Truth #4

Sleep… Something I miss terribly.

In my younger years I could stay up all night or for 2 days in a row without any additional help. I have also been accused of being a night-owl… Though, those days are long behind me; I get tired at 3 pm, regardless of when I woke up (adrenal fatigue I know, but I’ve no time for that; too busy raising my kids)

Ever since my son was 4 months old sleep has been an issue. From birth to 4 months he was the best baby ever; never woke in the night (yes, sleeping all night from birth – I was so lucky), took naps most of the day – and so calm and quiet, you had to “know” he was there, just to “know” he was there. (Don’t get me wrong, he was vocal from day one, with nothing but the cutest goo’s and gaa’s I have ever heard uttered; oh, and his eye contact was mesmerizing.)

Then things took a drastic turn…

At 4 months, almost on the nose, daytime naps became fewer, and were, more often than not, interrupted by what can only be described as “daymares”. When your child starts randomly screaming, mid-nap, and refuses to stop, or even open his eyes, no matter what you do, you freak the f@ck out! I had no idea what was happening, I just knew I didn’t like it, because it was so scary; it was heart wrenching to sit there and helplessly try to soothe a child who, it seemed, had no earthly idea that anyone else was present. His pediatrician, of course, said “everything is fine, some babies are just fussy”; Um, no, not like this they aren’t – but of course I went with it, after all, he does have the degree that supposedly makes him a child expert… WTeF?

After the daymares came the fussy, inconsolable periods – every night between 4pm & 8pm – where my son would ONLY be calm if he had a breeze on his face; not gale force winds mind you, but air flowing over his head. It didn’t matter if we took him outside in the breeze or “airplaned” him around the house, that’s all that placated him.

Things eventually calmed down and went back to a reasonable facsimile of normal until…

Once he turned 14 months his sleeping patterns became super erratic. Up for 2 hours, down for 2 hours – up for 4 hours, down for 4 hours. Never with any consistency, and never on any particular schedule. This continued for a good 9 months; but, Oh how we tried to get him on a normal schedule…

For a couple of months he settled on an “Up all night and sleep all day” cycle; this was an interesting time for running errands.

Then a magical moment came where everything righted itself…

I gave birth to my daughter and my son suddenly found a normal circadian rhythm; Sleeping all night, taking normal naps during the day and all at appropriate times.

His sister however, had no such plans…

She was a loud child from day one, and only chose to nap if I held her; I literally spent 2 years holding my baby girl, day and night, just so she’d sleep. Let her cry it out you say, she’ll adjust you say? I, personally, do not think letting your child scream at such a young age to “teach them a lesson” is good for anyone involved, plus I can’t handle it; heart-breaking to say the least (and pretty damn irritating after 5 minutes).

Fast forward to now…

It’s been about 3 years and both children have outgrown nap-time. My daughter can easily sleep for 12 hours strait a night, once she gets to sleep that is; it involves a lot of head rubbing and/or cuddling – but not until after I have gotten my son to sleep. That requires me to sit quietly in the room with him (sometimes for hours), occasionally rubbing his head, but mostly just my presence is all he requires (Magical Mommy Mojo to the rescue). This song and dance generally begins around 10 pm, and doesn’t finish until around 1 or 2 in the morning (it can take my son up to 3 hours to actually fall asleep, my daughter and hour or less). After all of that, I still have to get myself ready for bed and my head ends up hitting the pillow somewhere between 2 and 3 am. Depending on the day, I can usually get a good 7 hours (though when I wake it only feels like 10 minutes); on the off days 4 is maximum. My son has issues staying asleep if there is ANY noise or the odd nightmare occurs; those nights I wake to either his tablet on at full volume (and in my ear, because children must jump into mommy’s bed when all is not well – it’s a rule, look it up) or he will stand at the foot of my bed tapping my toes til I get up. These are the days that an entire pound of coffee will not remedy (naps are of course out of the question, my children have an unspoken rule with each other regarding naps, and they shall not break it).

Someday I will have the luxury of sleep again, whether the kids fall into some beautiful, regular schedule or I die first, is another issue; but it will be mine eventually… Until then, I have my wine… and it’ll have to do.


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