Actually, I’M EXHAUSTED!
After a bad nights sleep, I always jokingly update Facebook or Twitter with ‘sleep is for losers’, ‘sleep is over rated’. But you know what, I have to laugh about it because if I didn’t, i’d cry, lots!!
The truth is though, I want some sleep. I. REALLY. NEED. SOME. SLEEP!
I wish I could compare my lack of sleep and exhaustion to that of looking after a new-born or teething baby. The reality is, that was the easy bit! My body and hormones made it easier. It felt normal and it was acceptable. But for a 3yr old?? Its most definitely is not.
Bruiser had always been such a good sleeper too. From six months old, the 4am feed aside, he slept through. He would settle himself to sleep at bedtime and nap time. He would only sleep in his cot though, but that worked for us. He would always get his 12 hours and would regularly put in 13 hour stints at the weekend when there was no alarms going off and still grab a couple of hours in the day.
Six months ago though, just before Christmas he started waking in the night. Screaming out for us, for absolutely no reason that we could make out. We just thought he was going through a stage of separation anxiety and that it would go away. It didn’t!
To start with he was easily settled back to sleep with a little reassurance and the odd cuddle but, a pattern was already forming. He was waking up at the same times every night and he was becoming increasingly difficult to settle again. It got to the point where we were having full on meltdowns in the night. It was like he suddenly didn’t know how to settle himself anymore and he was frustrated with himself because of that. He’d reject any attempt from us to settle him or cuddle him and would push us away and simply cry and scream into his hands in bed.
Apart from the odd occasion before we went to bed, it was always in the early hours that he was waking; 1am, 2am, 2.30am, 3.30am, 4am, 5.30am. Some nights he just stayed awake. Any attempts to settle him were failing. Whenever we thought he was finally asleep, we’d creep out of the room and climb back into our bed only for him to wake up again and it would start all over again!
Eventually, against all our principles we started getting him into our bed to sleep. We’d had enough. We were exhausted and needed our sleep to function in the day and it wasnt fair on his brother with whom he shared a bedroom. He had school and the lack of sleep was making Wriggler tired and emotional.
Bruiser would eventually settle and sleep in our bed although he still woke at the same times crying and screaming. But he was easier to settle back down. After a few days though we knew it couldn’t continue. We did not want sleeping in our bed to become routine, he was already saying ‘memee’s bed’ in the night, he had to sleep in his bed but, all the usual settling rituals that he had always enjoyed since being a baby weren’t working. So began the ‘sitting next to his cot till he fell asleep and stay a little longer to be sure’ routine!! It took that long sometimes, I’d wake up sat on his floor with dead legs and a dead arm from leaning over his cot side. Id creep back to my bed to realise that id been in their room for over an hour!!
In the midst of all this going off, he had also started refusing to sleep in an evening when we put him and his brother to bed. We had hours and hours of crying, screaming and meltdowns attempting to settle him to sleep. We’d eat our tea at gone 11 o’clock some nights and literally go straight to bed to be awake only an hour later with Bruiser and pretty much stay awake from thereon!
Things have gotten a little better in the last few months. Plenty of milk at bedtime and no major upset and he will now settle and go to sleep on his own. But that was after we spent a few weeks of sitting next to his bed till he did sleep every night. We probably spend a night or two a week now sitting in their room. But it only take about 20 minutes now!
The night-time waking remains unchanged and continues to this day. It starts at 1am then usually 2.30-3ish again at 4am and lastly about 5.30, but we have managed to avert the meltdowns and we sit in his room near to his bed while he settles back to sleep. It takes about 20 minutes each time!
Unfortunately though, all this has taken its toll. I’m exhausted and spend most days downing pro plus with strong coffee. We occasionally get a night where he does sleep through all night. However these are very few and far between and im now that conditioned to waking up at certain times that I still do regardless.
I’ve read recently via the NAS website that Autism and sleep disorders pretty much come hand in hand. This was new information. We had no idea. Whilst there are some great ideas on there to try, including keeping a sleep diary which we are doing, I cant help but think that we now doomed to spend every night like this. Will it get any better? Will it get any worse more to the point??
I used to love 7.30 you know… bedtime. Once the boys were settled I knew that was it for the night and I could relax and unwind, switch off and me and the Hubby got some quality time together. Now I dread it, the not knowing if he’s actually going to settle at all when we take him to bed, what times in the night he’s going to wake up or if he’ll sleep through. There is no switching off any more. I can’t let my guard down.
Just recently one nights memories are merging with others. Even the Hubby will say I got up with him last night, or was that the night before? i cant remember! I’ve had days when ive felt like my eyes were going to shut while driving, so now I avoid having the car as much as I can at the moment. I can be sat playing with boys and my eyes start shutting. I’m struggling to stay awake most days. Tuesday this week, I was walking home from school and I felt my eyes shutting. I was walking!! Throw into the mix three school runs a day, the usual household duties of an average family of four, entertaining kids, preparing meals, a very energetic 7yr old spiderman and a more than likely autistic 3yr old with all the trials and tribulations that come with that. I’m beat!! I’m done in!!
I don’t suppose any one knows where I can get a holiday form do they??