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Night terror

I have mentioned that my girls cry at night before. It’s not really crying but screaming. They will wake up and start screaming like someone is murdering them for at least half an hour and sometimes llonger. No amount of kissing, holding or assuring will get them to calm down. I have tried everything. I, usually, just lay next to them not touching them because that makes it worse until they get too tired to continue.

I always feel like I have failed as a mother. Something is upsetting my girls deeply to make them cry like that and I, Mama, haven’t a clue as to what. Or, do I?

I have been thinking about when the night terrors started with Sweet Bear. It was just after we moved to France without her big sister. She adored and still does adore Angel Girl. Angel Girl was always there playing, holding and kissing Sweet Bear from birth. When Sweet Bear was born Angel Girl was in the hall just outside the door. She began jumping up and down chatting, “Sweet Bear is here”, over and over again. As soon as she was allowed she ran into the room and looked at her new sister. She thought she was beautiful and kissed her face as she held Sweet Bears little hand. Angel Girl had wanted a baby sister for years and at the age of six she got one. And, she spoiled Sweet Bear rotten with all her love.

I now see that the move to France and the separation of my daughters is what has been causing the night terrors. They don’t understand why Angel Girl isn’t here all the time. I try to explain it to them but I am not sure how much they understand.

It’s not easy to live with the guilt of knowing that your decision to move to another country (even if you really think it was for a better life as a family) is what causes your childrens’ night terrors.

It is no little thing as you will understand if you have ever had a child that has night terrors. It’s scary. My kid is screaming at the top of her lungs and she is out of control. Last winter, both girls would do it at the same time. It was a nightmare having two babies screaming for no apparent reason. I would check them to make sure they were not hurt. Because, it sounded like they were being tortured. I couldn’t do anything to make it better for them. My neighbor under me asked me a couple times if it was my children she heard screaming at night. She suggested to me that it may be night terror. I had never heard of it before then.

Sweet Bear doesn’t have them anylonger. She only wakes up and crys once a week. She stops as soon as I find her blankey for her. Petite Clown started the night terrors shortly after the first summer after Angel Girl left from her first stay with us in France. She is still having them about two nights a week. If she sleeps with me she is ok. But, my husband refuses to let her sleep with us. And, I understand that he is right about that not really being the best for her either. So, I just hold her tight and put her head on my shoulder rocking and her. Sometimes, it works. If not, I lay her in her bed and stay with her talking to her and kissing her when she will let me.

When I decided to make the move to France, I knew my children would be sad to be apart. I knew it wouldn’t be easy for them. However, I never guessed how deeply it would hurt them.

I think that Sweet Bear is beginning to understand why Angel Girl isn’t here during most of the year. I think that is why she doesn’t scream at night. However, my biggest fear is that she just hides it better. I do have problems with her temper and sometimes she is down right mean to her little sister. But, I know I was mean to my little brother, too. I worry that I worry too much.

I, as their mother, love my children and it’s hard to see them screaming like they are being murdered for no physical reason. I feel helpless and responsible. I feel like a bad mother. Mama just wants to kiss all the bad things away but sometimes no amount of Mama kisses will make it better. The worst is knowing it is really my fault that my kids are not all together. Sometimes, I wonder if I made the right decision. I wish I could rewind time and play it over differently to see if it would have been better another way.

Here is a wonderful website on night terror.

It can run in the family. I and my brother have always had “nightmares” and would often sleep with each other because we were terrified after these dreams. I have had them since at least six. Maybe, sooner and I just don’t remember. Sometimes, I would remember the dreams and other times not. I always remembered the deep undescribable fear after the dreams. I won’t tell you the details of my dreams because some are disturbing. Steven King like dreams keep me restless at night for months at a time.

Even as an adult I will fight sleep after a bad dream because I’m too afraid to close my eyes. I will wake up in the morning with the light on my face and I feel safe again. In high school, I didn’t like to sleep because I was afraid of having a nightmare. I would stay up for hours until sleep overtook me. My parents were always yelling at me for not sleeping. I just was too afraid to sleep.

So, I do think that it runs in the family. However, I understand that being away from their sister triggers it and causes the night terrors to be more accute.

In a matter of days, my girls and son will be together again. >However, my biggest worry now is that Boy Blue will begin to have night terrors after his sister goes back to America at the end of the summer.

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  • kim May 25, 2006, 2:07 pm

    I hear so many people talking about night terrors, both of my boys had them and there was nothing I could pinpoint. I heard someone once say that the dreams are so real, that they cannot differentiate the difference between real or dream and are so shocked and scared.
    Pickles had one when he was like 3, and it lasted 2 hours, it was about snakes, as he kept repeating and screaming, the snakes, the snakes…and to this day, he is deathly, hyperventilating, panic attack afraid of snakes.
    Poor little girls, they will outgrow it!
    If you hadn’t of moved to france, it would have been something else that they got night terrors from, you can’t make your childrens lives perfect, we do the best we can!! Unfortunately we do not have hindsight, so what happens is how it is supposed to happen!


  • Pumpkin May 25, 2006, 7:16 pm

    Thank you, Kim. I have been feeling bad lately because Petite Clown is still having them and it is painful to watch her screaming. I read the website I linked to today and it made me feel better. The website stated that night terrors have nothing to do with pschological problems. I wish I had found this website sooner.

    I am glad your boys don’t have them anymore. Sweet Bear hasn’t for several months so I pray Petite Clown stops soon as well.

    I had no idea about night terror and was afraid to talk about it before because I didn’t want people to think something was wrong with my girls.

  • Hexe May 25, 2006, 7:43 pm

    My daughter has also had them on occassion. As a child, my mother said I would wake up screaming. During adolescence, I had periods of “black dreams.” I would wake up scared, gasping for air, and I couldn’t remeber anything. I had no childhood trama – lived in the same home and same town until I left for college. For your children, it may be the move but it may also just be the way it would have been even with if their sister was there year round.

    As mothers, we are much harder on ourselves then we would be with anyone else. We sympathize and support our mother friends but we refuse to give ourselves the same support. Last week was my bad mother week – I resented the tantrums and the fighting and the mess. I resented having to continually give more of my time, more of my energy, just more when already they take so much. I write this and I feel selfish. Am I bad mother? My husband and children would tell you No.

    Our children will never be perfect but their imperfections and struggles are not necessarily our failures. They are just what every human carries – the inability to be perfect, the struggle of life. I have no advice – just try not to be so hard on yourself. Hopefully, the sleepless nights will soon end.

  • roland May 25, 2006, 9:08 pm

    visit this link
    Maybe some homeopathie could help?
    My wife remembre some “dream with eyes wild over” may be it’s the same for your baby?

  • Pumpkin May 25, 2006, 9:28 pm

    Thank you, Hexe. I have been hard on myself lately. I think it is because my oldest daughter is coming soon and I am very emotional during this final waiting period. I had no idea other people had knowledge of this. That makes me feel better…knowing I am not alone.

    Roland, Merci bien pour le lien. The article said that waking the child (which I do often) is not good because it prolongs the night terrors. I am going to read it again because I had trouble with some words but I think I understood most of it.
    Yes, my babies have same as your wife remembers…exactly.

  • kim May 26, 2006, 6:19 am

    YOU are a wonderful mother! Take it easy on yourself!! Don’t be sooo hard on yourself, you are doing more than any mother I know, you are so conscious of mothering, and I only can see that in your blogging, I imagine in the real world you are 100x the mommy:)

    I can’t wait for you to get your girl back in your arms, that will be great, maybe she’ll want to stay, it would be sooo easy for her to learn french, and honest to God after going through this crappy US educational system and fighting them all week, I would give anything to be able to give my kids other options!!!


  • Pumpkin May 26, 2006, 10:47 am

    Thank you Kim. I am the hardest on myself. I know I am a good mother but sometimes I second guess some of my decisions. But, you are right when you said what happens is supposed to happen.

    I really had never heard of night terror before and my mother says my brother and I never cried like that. She said it was not normal for them to scream for no reason. And, she had never heard of it before. So, I assumed my kids were unique. This is why blogging is good because now I know my kids are not the only kids that have night terror. And, I don’t have to be afraid to talk about it for fear someone will think they are not “normal”.

  • carra May 26, 2006, 12:22 pm

    Dear Pumpkin, I have had Night Terrors since I was three. My mother would put it down to scary cartoons I would see or something like that. My biggest scream used to be lions, I would cry in bed scream lions and then start jumping! I would never remember anything in the morning and during Night Terrors it is impossible to wake me up and if someone managed to wake me up the trauma would be 100 times worse because I wouldn’t know what is going on and get scared even more… Do not wake your girls up, you could scare them even more (My personam advise and not an order).
    I still have them to this day, my husband is a very sensitive sleeper so he notices and get’s worried, he told the only thing that helps is talking nicely, no touching neccessary as sometimes I find it uncomfortable. I hope your children will grow out of this, myself I can get rid or it only with valium and I do not like taking any kind of medication unless it is neccessary. Your children are normal and it got nothing to do with their sister being away, because it is hereditory thing. It actually shows that you are good mother because apart from their sister being away there is nothing scary in their life, can you see my point of view? I am not a mother and even though I try I can not fully understand what you feel, but Night Terrors will go away, and Angel girl will be with you soon. Think positive.

  • Pumpkin May 26, 2006, 12:44 pm

    Carra, Thank you and I am sorry that you are still going through night terror even today.

  • carra May 26, 2006, 12:56 pm

    Pumkin, you are very welcome, you are a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother. I 100% sure of it. If it stopped for Sweet Bear it will stop for Petit Clwon one as well. Me I got used to it.

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