Who Needs Sleep Anyway?
Ever since she was born, Molly has been a terrible sleeper.
She was born by emergency caesarean section so I had to spend a couple of days in the hospital afterwards. I remember being on the postnatal ward with three other woman; their babies were sleeping soundly. Not mine though. Mine would want feeding, go to sleep for a very short time and then wake up screaming.
I didn’t have a clue what was wrong with her because I had never done this before. I tried everything the midwives suggested but to no avail; even they were baffled by her. Fast forward a few days, I was at home, and it occurred to me that maybe she wanted more milk. She did. I gave her more and she drank it. I say drank but guzzled would be a more appropriate word. She would get this ‘milk coma’ look on her face; my community midwife told me that’s the look we were going for; a full, happy and contented baby.
We had cracked it. Now we could all get some sleep, right? Wrong! Very Wrong!
The milk was causing Molly to have reflux. She was in so much pain with it so couldn’t sleep. We tried everything from burping her for longer, holding her in certain positions when feeding her, to raising the top end of her Moses basket. Nothing seemed to help. Eventually she was prescribed medication which helped slightly. But she was still in pain. Well, writhing in pain actually after each and every feed. We were all exhausted because none of us were getting any sleep.
I must have taken Molly to the GP what seemed like a million times and each and every time I felt like we were being fobbed off. The GP made me feel stupid and like I was over reacting. I’m not sure why I felt stupid because I knew my baby, and I knew something was wrong. Also, my health visitor was in complete agreement with me and couldn’t understand my GPs behaviour.
My baby was in pain as well as constantly being sick, having explosive nappies and on occasion was bleeding from her bum. This was not normal, but my GP seemed to think it was and wasn’t doing anything. I was furious. My health visitor was furious. We both knew what the problem was; Molly had a dairy intolerance. I had seen the symptoms in my niece, and I myself have a slight dairy intolerance. I knew what it looked like and so did my health visitor.
Molly must have been about three to four months old when I switched GPs and my health visitor referred her to a dietician. The dietician diagnosed Molly with a cow’s milk protein allergy and prescribed her a dairy free milk formula.
Now we had cracked it. Surely! We could all now get some sleep couldn’t we? Not a chance!
Even with her reflux medication and dairy free milk, Molly was still waking several times a night.
The months were passing by and we hadn’t had a single night that Molly had slept through. I was sick of people telling me how good their babies slept. Show offs. I got to spend all night with my baby, down stairs, just me and her, so there… I hated those people!
We tried everything we could think of in our attempts to get her to sleep better. We adjusted day time naps, moved her into her own room early on in case her dad’s snoring was keeping her awake, tried different bedtime routines… none of them worked.
Sometimes when Molly woke up she appeared to be wide awake, well, her eyes were open but I could tell she was tired and wanted to sleep but couldn’t. Other times when she would wake up she seemed agitated or scared.
She was constantly moving around her cot and would never be where we left her. I would go to check on her and she would be sat up awake just staring at nothing. Sometimes she would be sat up screaming and shaking violently. Other times she would be throwing herself around the cot. It was terrifying to see. What was wrong with my baby girl?
Either me or the OH would get her out of the cot to give her a cuddle and try to calm her down but that didn’t help at all. Her eyes were open but it was like she was looking through us. She would run around the house hysterically screaming but almost like she had a purpose to what she was doing. It was really scary. Terrifying actually! Then as fast as the episode started she was back with us, wanting a cuddle before falling asleep in my arms.
After Googling (a lot) and speaking to my health visitor and GP, we determined that Molly was having night terrors (she wasn’t demonically possessed like I had suspected!) She was one year old at this point. What does a one year old have to be terrified of? It broke my heart. It still does.
Molly is now two and a half years old and she is still a terrible sleeper. She doesn’t have as many night terrors as she used to have, and touch wood; she hasn’t had one for quite a while now. But she constantly wakes at night and can’t seem to settle down.
Between myself, my GP and my health visitor we cannot pin down a reason for Molly’s constant waking. I’ve tried changing her bedtime routine, changing her bedroom around, adjusting day time naps, putting her to bed at different times, not giving her certain foods, not letting her watch any TV or use the tablet after a certain time, among other things, but nothing seems to work.
Molly wakes up constantly and cannot settle back down, and can be awake anything from a few minutes to a few hours. The longest she has been awake for is five hours. I often wonder if she has insomnia or if she is just destined to be a bad sleeper.
My mother informs me that I didn’t need much sleep as a baby, and my OH, Molly’s dad, is a terrible sleeper too. He sleep talks and sleep walks. Molly’s problem could be genetics. Over the last few weeks Molly has started talking in her sleep too. The poor little thing cannot catch a break. Her dad doesn’t have a problem waking up at night and not getting back to sleep though. He is dead to the world as soon as his head hits the pillow.
Between my OH’s snoring, sleep talking and sleep walking, and Molly’s constant waking up it’s a wonder I get any sleep at all. How I manage to function effectively in everyday life I don’t know.
My health visitor has referred Molly to a sleep clinic to see if they can give us any tips and advice that might help her sleep better and for longer at night. I am there next week so I am really hoping they will have something useful for us. I’ll try anything at this point!
Has anyone had any dealings with an insomniac child and have any tips they would like to share? Or have any tips on dealing with snoring, sleep talking and sleep walking in adults? My usual dig into the OH’s ribs when he’s sleeping hasn’t proven effective so far…