Sleep has not been the kindness thing to our family. In fact we’ve all become terrible sleepers over the last 7 years. From as early as just before a year old, my son has had a serious issue with sleep. He stopped napping and would fight sleep with every last will he had. At 18 months we would still use the swing that he was way too big for but aided in helping him doze off, by laying on the couch or sitting next to him and manual pushing it back and forth. When that long awaited sleep did come, it never lasted long. We tried every sleep ritual you can imagine, including the infamous cry it out. Every SINGLE time that just ended in a lot of laundry, vomit and some carpet cleaning. At 14 nights of that in row I vowed to never do that again – it didn’t get better. I caved and tried it again, and again, tough love, but same results ensued. To make matters worse, he grew to hate sleep.
I still stuck to my ideals that he wasn’t going to sleep in my bed, and continued to wake with him 5-7 times a night and put him back down. We put him in a toddler bed at around 15 months to facilitate his waking – and he never once got out of it, but instead would call for us or awake crying or screaming. If you ignored those calls for him to put himself back to sleep, well again came the laundry, vomit and carpet cleaning. At 2 I gave up. I had already been back to work for 18 months and was now beyond sleep deficient. All of us were. When he awoke, the whole house awake. For the next 10 months he slept (well his version of sleep) in our bed and my husband most often occupied the den. Before 3 years of age he asked to sleep back in his room. I was so happy thinking that sleep must now be in the cards for us – he was ready!
Well the happiness didn’t materialize. He would continue to wake up but maybe 3-5 times as the new standard. There was definitely something amiss. At 4 he was diagnosed with a sleep disorder. He didn’t easily go into REM sleep and always was stirring. We even got him a double bed at this time to facilitate his activity in the night, so he wasn’t waking from hitting the sides of the bed/walls/rails, with his constant movement. That didn’t really get is anywhere other than the fact he still didn’t sleep. We knew there was something else.
Just a couple of weeks ago he had his tonsils and adenoids removed for severe sleep apnea. The difference – even with swelling – has been immediate. He is feeling amazing, even while healing, as he was in a great deal of pain before that became his norm. He was struggling to breathe every minute of every night, and even struggled in the day. It had got so bad he no longer could sleep on his back and things like swimming and back floats or riding the elevator were terrifying. He was claustrophobic in his own body.
Now, if he had been a child who frequently was sick, diagnosis would have likely come much sooner, but since he was tolerant, happy and developing, it was overlooked. We had mentioned it at every check up, but sometimes his annual checkup was his only visit to his family doctor. He was a healthy boy who had known anxieties and all the dots were not connected together to relate everything. He had fears, anxieties, gag reflux issues and obvious sleep issues. For the first few years we really thought it was us, we were doing something wrong. The last couple of years we knew something was amiss. The last year in particular sleep was just awful. We requested a new specialist from our family doctor to examine his issues. After that, almost everything about him made sense, including some oddities you would never think were related to your tonsils, adenoids or sleep apnea!
Prior to surgery several nights I just watched him sleep. In 15 minutes time he would move on average about 20 times, readjusting every time he stopped or struggling with breathing. In the last couple of years he didn’t always wake us up each time he stopped breathing, but the times he woke up scared and not realizing why was when he would appear. Often he just wanted one of us to assure him and put him back to bed. Many times he didn’t even remember as he was so sleep deprived himself. He maintained to not like sleep though, as it was never a pleasant and restful experience, and took forever to get to sleep.
The three weeks of him being home following his first hospital stay have been long (this put 24 hr parenting to a new level) but the forthcoming results already so very worth it. He can breathe!! He will sleep better, grow better, learn better. So many positives! Honestly for the first week he just moaned, pointed and cried. To sore to talk, and the main meds made him so nauseous he threw up shortly after each dose. He had a few days where he felt great just before his first post-op, only to be told he had not healed enough and needed to rest and extra week off. The total healing process actually takes about a year. However, this week he feels is he beyond ready to conquer the world and return to school Tuesday. Mom & Dad are beyond ready for him to wear himself out and for the whole family to get some good nights sleep.