Treading Water

The boys are back in school and even though we are still not in our house — instead in a furnished apartment down the road from the old hotel — we are managing. I guess the great lesson from this whole summer is that we survive. It may look impossible at the outset, like we will drop to our knees and beg to be beamed away, but we will adjust. Two boys who have issues with change and disruption will adapt.

The adaptation ain’t always pretty. I should have completely omitted from my last post the part where they are sleeping through the night because that must have been someone else’s children. While Sam has had an easier time of it, John has started some vicious manic awakenings. Every night, usually from about 1:30 to 5:30 a.m., he is laughing, singing, yelling. When brought to our bed, he does all that plus kicking and poking and jumping.

Desperate, we’ve started giving him melatonin before bed, a remedy I’ve read has worked wonders for many of you other sleep-deprived families. I was pretty skeptical, but as far as helping him fall sleep? Amazing. Normally it could take up to 90 minutes while one of us lies with them. Now: 5 minutes. I am slowly reclaiming huge chunks of my evenings. The only caveat is that it may help him fall asleep, but not stay asleep, which is why I’ve been up today since 3:20 a.m.

I’m afraid that the lack of sleep is not only interfering with John’s school day (he’s pretty low-energy mid-morning), but it is also making me less patient, more irritable and very frustrated. I watch Twins Dad’s reservoir of patience at 4 a.m. and am simultaneously grateful and dismayed that I can’t match it. I’m done and the day has barely started.

John has always had this sleep issue, but it used to occur much less frequently. I remember when he was barely two and I would go to him in his crib and his legs would be hyperextended and he’d be so tense, so wide awake, that I worried about how stressful it was on his tiny body. I don’t know how to help him when he’s like this or if I even should.

Do I get earplugs, double-bolt the doors and make sure he’s in a safe place? Is there something I haven’t tried yet? This morning, John could not tolerate covers of any kind, not even a sheet. And yet, he sought out Twins Dad with his feet and legs and arms, reaching out for him with an urgency I’m not used to seeing. Then as soon as he’d make contact, he’d jerk his legs, almost involuntarily, and push away. Over and over and over.

In the dark I rage at the fact we are still not in our home, as if that might make all this bearable, that the familiar would make these night-time awakenings cease. I guess the great lesson from this whole summer is that we survive. It may look impossible at the outset, like we will drop to our knees and beg to be beamed away, but we will adjust. Two boys who have issues with change and disruption will adapt.

And hopefully that means Mommy too.


Leave a comment
  • Oh, yes, I hear you on this one! Haven’t tried melatonin yet, but definitely see it in our future.

    I hope you aren’t in the apartment for too long. Is there any way the twins can have there own rooms when they get back home? That’s what we’ll have to do, or else use crib tents til they move out!

  • Oh G-d do I hear you. I could have written this post myself word for word. It’s so hard. We started melatonin two weeks ago with the exact same results ….. falling asleep was never T’s issue; it was always the nighttime waking …. “vicious manic waking” as you called it …. yes, the perfect term ….. let’s just say I had more patience months/years ago ….. but who can keep this up?

    I really feel for you. It’s so hard running on empty all the time. And not being in your home must make it so much worse.

  • You know we have struggled with sleep issues with L. for YEARS and it just doesn’t seem to change. We used melatonin for about a year and then this summer it stopped working. Not only that, but it was giving him such vivid dreams that we think he began having real deep-set anxieties that were REALLY interfering with his sleep and well-being. It also didn’t stop him from waking up, which he still did and does.

    Rest assured though that as they grow older they will (hopefully) develop the skills to stay in their rooms. For the most part L. stays in his room and reads for hours; when he is anxious or has a bad dream he brings his sleeping bag into our room and sleeps on the floor.

    Good luck–sending sleep vibes your way!

  • Hi. We used to have a difficult time with our son at night. He too would be up for hours – many nights screaming as if in pain. What we use now (I won’t go without) is Melatonin in combination with Gaba. I give 2 melatonin and 2 gaba (or 1,000 mg). I get the gaba powder from our compounding pharmacist (used to use Solgar). This works for us now and has for maybe the past two years (my son is 5). I hope you get some sleep soon!

  • The gluten and dairy free diet improved my daughters sleep dramatically. She went from night waking at 2 AM grunting the tune to happy b-day and laughing or screaming maniacally to peaceful full nights sleep within the week if not sooner.Unfortunately, that was the only dramatic improvement we saw with the diet. However, the promise of a good night sleep for all in our family has made the gf/cf diet a very worthwhile endeavor.


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