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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Just a little green, like the colors when the spring is born


I think I'm a freak.

Ellie has a cold and a runny nose but even with that is sleeping pretty well. Of course now that I write this the mokas are going to come all the way from Jacqui's house in Australia to mine to mess that up. And maybe I don't mind so much. She was up last night, but for the past month she has been sleeping through most nights. 

That's pretty good right, after 6 years of interrupted sleep? 

But...

It freaks me out when she sleeps so well. I wake up in a cold sweat thinking she has died. I go in her room and in my head see her cold and blue as my heart goes tachycardic.  It's not a conscious thing. I want her to sleep - god do I ever want her to sleep through the night every night for the rest of her life and mine with all my tired sleep deprived heart. The sleep of children is precious, warm and peaceful as their brain develops and their bodies grow and they dream their dreams. And Ellie has taken a stretch over the last month - a couple of centimeters that make a difference in how her clothes fit. And she is cognitively coming along great due to all this sleep. 

But, when it comes to sleep, I can't help but remember other kids I have read about that didn't wake after a nap or a night and my nervous system can't forget the first two years of Ellie's life where she slept beside us in her Arms Reach. When, if I heard her breathing catch, she was choking on secretions, or her body was so relaxed in sleep her tongue would slide back and block her airway and then later after she turned four, seizure. Always around sleep all the badness, and scariness of death, reaching out to snatch her away from us, me and Dave swatting it back with a small blue bulb suction or diastat and 911 or repositioning and a gentle pound on the back to stop the choking and help her produce a cough. Constant visits to the ER. Fear of her dying. 

Maybe that's why it's hard to trust this sleep through the night. I don't trust it. It scares the crap out of me. I thought about putting her back in the room with us, but she is such a light sleeper and we are tossers and turners and snorers who will wake her up. Which is why she has been in her own room, own bed for a few years now, tyranny of the monitor and all it's sounds or no.

Still, there are many times when I hear her stuffy nosed breathing and go in and make sure. Or the nights when I don't hear anything on the monitor, nights when she is not stuffed up her breathing is so still it's hard to see her chest rise and fall. I gently put my hand on hers, fearing hers will be cold, and of course it's not, it's warm, the way kids are little furnaces when they sleep. Then I just wait till I am able to hear her catch a breath feeling self conscious that is she wakes and catches me listening so close it will disturb her. Once I do hear her breathing I go back to bed with this heavy feeling of guilt like I should just sit in the chair by her bed for the night, just in case. 

I think I have post-traumatic stress syndrome. 

Will I ever trust sleep again? 

3 comments:

Ellen said...

Oh, this made me cry. I've been through what you've been through, especially the first couple of years of Max's life. I was so scared he would have a seizure again (he had them at birth) or stop breathing. Then, at 2, he had a horrible seizure that we caught only because he was sleeping with us. He's on medication now, so I don't worry about him as much. Oh, and he's still sleeping with me (I did a whole post on the family bed once). I think, when you have a kid with special needs, there really is such post-traumatic stress syndrome to deal with, you are not wrong. We've been through the worst trauma of our lives. Anyway, Ellie sleeping by herself is still a new thing, I think it just takes adjusting to, give yourself time.

sarai said...

I do understand how you feel. Our little preemie daughter was stolen away quite unexpectedly from us in the middle of the night, and after our youngest came home, for months I would wake up at the exact minute the call came from the hospital nursing supervisor, heart pounding, I couldn't even let him sleep in his own crib for months --- he slept in my arms, and I woke up over and over again to make sure he was still breathing.

I did get treatment for PTSD. My husband still wakes up and checks on both kids.

sarai

terriblepalsy said...

You know, the Gods of No Sleep have been a bit nasty to us over the years. What I thought was particularly cruel is how Moo has only ever had a seizure when he has been sleeping.
I'm with you Kathryn, I'm can't trust sleep and on those nights it gets too much, either there is 3 in our bed or I'm camping in Moo's bed with him.