The toddler saga: episode 2: night terrors

photo (39)Episode 1 was the flight to hell. We’re officially at episode 2. In case you didn’t gather from my previous posts – my 2.5 yr old is having the hardest time of the 3 of us. I’m in shock – AGAIN!! I really thought this was her thing. This place is loud, full of life and energy … just like her. WRONG! … AGAIN!

She’s not coping well. And this post might be more educational than anything else for you young parents out there. Night terrors. She woke up 3 days at a stretch screaming … screaming out of control at the exact same time. Now you must understand that our house is empty. It will be another month or so before our things arrive by ship. You can understand how much my girl hates it. She keeps asking why she’s here. Why mama dada brought her here? She says this is not my house every now and then. She keeps crying. Her tantrums have hit the roof! In short – she hates it here. She keeps asking for Mina (her old nanny), Miga and her neighbor friends from the California house. She asks if this is paati’s (grandma’s) house. She’s confused I get it. She’s upset I get it. But this 1 am meltdown. I didn’t get it.

She ran out to the living room fell on the floor and screamed. The meltdown lasted 30 mins and every time in that half hour it got worse only when my husband & I approached her and tried to carry her. She kept saying go away. She calmed herself down and let grandma put her back to sleep. She didn’t want anything to do with her dad and mum – I understood – she was angry. As I stayed up that first night in sheer terror .. digesting what had just happened – going through in my head, every possible problem she could be facing .. I randomly remembered a friend saying his daughter was having night terrors. Random!!! Just came to me out of nowhere. And I started googling it up. All the symptoms were there. She seemed asleep .. her eyes were open .. she was unable to process what was happening around her. She was not showing any recognition of the people around her or the place around her. She seemed asleep but her eyes were open and she was crying and screaming. And we did the one thing we totally shouldn’t have – try to shake her out of it. We tried to wake her up, even discipline her by saying this was not acceptable behavior! We messed it up.

A trip to the doctor (what are the odds of her name being the exact same as my daughter’s ex-nanny’s?!?! you can imagine how that had more repercussions .. ) the next morning confirmed this. Night terrors it is. She insisted that we dont wake her up or shake her out of the moment. It is damaging. There’s a ton of literature online on night terrors for those of you that are looking for info. Day 2 – by 6 pm everyone in the house was worried .. clearly in shock from the previous night and getting mentally prepared for a rough night again. The second night was better and the third barely an incident. She continues to moan and talk about things from her home and life in California … some other times she’s just talking about the kids in the building that pushed her. It’s random but at least she’s not screaming bloody murder. Stress, unfamiliar places and people, too much sensory load are all reasons children this age experience night terrors.

You can imagine – as a classic information overload seeking always-googling parent .. I started the research on night terrors. Webmd, babycenter … every site has this info. And then friends. As I started mentioning this to friends – the response was amazing. Some responded saying this is exactly what their children went through when they moved someplace new … some others didn’t know what this was and went “oh my god I guess this is what my daughter had when we moved to the new apartment” … most of their children’s night terrors lasted for much lesser than 30 – 40 mins … the US returns all came into the 30 min or more category!! Oh well ..

Lesson learnt … so here I share!!! Don’t underestimate what your kid could go through when you move down here. My doctor who also returned to the US 3 yrs ago – said her kids adjusted in no time, it’s she and her husband that are still coping. So maybe your kids will be just fine. I thought so too. And I was wrong – all the way!! The nights are getting a wee bit better with every passing day of new memories being created here … but it’s going to take a while. And I know better than to underestimate that now. The tantrums are still strong and loud. The nights are still scary. She says I’m sad at least 4 times a day. She recalls memories from her life in California several times a day. She keeps asking where her house is. When we visit people, she begs to stay there and not go back to her empty house. We have a ton of toys now – that’s literally all we have in the house … and one can see from this picture – why a make do chair with her car seat and toys .. just don’t make this her home. Another month and a half before the container shows up! 😦

This is going to take a while! I can only hope to be patient and calm. And yes – we’ve officially broken our child!! The guilt kills no matter how I try to fight it with logic.

Some good resources on night terrors:

2 responses to “The toddler saga: episode 2: night terrors

  1. Darling Crunch :: As scary as night terrors are (our eldest suffers from the same) do not feel like you’ve broken your child. I woud say that the incident at the airport stems from an over-tired child, in a stressful situation (I am sure that she was truly frightened when she realized she was lost) that raised the levels of cortisol in her system a bit too high for her to handle, which is probably what led to the full-on melt-down. If you’d like some reassurance, do some research into cortisol (the stress hormone), toddlerhood, and circadian rhythms. Little girlie—I am sure—doesn’t hate you, her little body is just going through some major adjustments of a biological nature, which will resolve with time allowing her little body and all her wiring and chemistry to settle and adjust to the new situation. Well, that’s my take on it anyway. 😉 Aren’t other parent’s sanctimonious offerings just awesome? 😉

  2. I still can’t believe I missed sending that invite my dear walking talking encyclopedia on children 🙂 I don’t know why .. but everytime someone tells me their kid had night terrors – they say they cried. Mine didn’t cry .. she was screaming bloody murder. So it scared me more every time. But I’ll google up cortisol and check it out. And yes – other parents’ offerings are almost always literally the only thing that keep me going these days and to think I used to run away from mommy groups the first 2 years of Aditi’s life there!!! 🙂 I’m yearning for it now.

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