Thursday, January 22, 2009

Night Terrors

Last night, around 3:30, we woke up to Claire screaming. It's something that occasionally happens, but this time it sounded different. Dani held her for a minute, and brought her into the hall. She had this far-off look in her eyes, then would get a look of absolute horror, have a slight shake, and scream for 10-15 seconds. Then she would calm down for a 10-15 seconds, and repeat. The ceiling and her blanket, which she was holding in her hand, both seemed especially scarey for her. We turned on a light, hugged her, let her be free, and finally, she seemed to snap out of it after 10 minutes or so. With the light on, we noticed that each time she screamed, her eyes dialated. She was so shaken by it all, that she was trembling for 30-40 minutes after, and one eye was more dialated than the other. I think it was 4:30 by the time we went back to sleep.

She woke up again just before 6:30 doing the same thing. This time, we turned on the hall light to try to get her to snap out of it. She would look both Dani and I in the eye, then get that look of horror, shake, and scream. She would then calm, sometimes asking for a drink of water, and then repeat her episode. I gave her a blessing, and prepared myself to take her to the hospital. When I took her downstairs to get our coats on, she finally calmed. Again, it was around 10 minutes (Dani says 5, but I think it was 10, so it was probably some where closer to Dani's number!)

As a side note, I want to express my gratitude for the Priesthood. After the second episode, we were all sitting on our bed, and Claire wanted both Dani and I to say a prayer. She knew she had received a blessing and seemed grateful for it.

Dani tells me Claire had a short episode after her nap today. She remembers being scared and screaming. If we ask what she was scared of, the answers are: mama, blanket, cheek, and vacuum (though that one was not as consistent of an answer and may have been because she IS actually scared of vacuums)

We've experienced what our pediatrician determined to be night terrors with Jacob when he was younger. His would typically come between 11:30 and 12:00, and I remember being afraid of the look in his eyes, which I remember thinking looked very empty and detatched. Jacob's were pretty scary, but Claire's are absolutely terrifying for a parent. These are very different than bad dreams. I know my kids have experienced bad dreams (like your sister biting your ball!), but these are far more traumatizing for all involved! Words cannot adequately describe the feelings Dani and I were having as we watched Claire go through this.

Has anyone else ever experience these? I sympathize with anyone else who has.

I've been reading up on them today, and I found out that 3-6% of kids have them, and adults can have them, too! How is it that our kids get some of the weirdest things? Milk allergies, which they had when they were infants, occur in 2-3% of kids. So, the chance that both kids get both symptoms: about 1 in 300,000! (I thought this post needed some numbers)


Miss Scarlet in the Conservatory said...

My brother has had night terrors for the longest time--he might even still have them once in awhile and he's almost twelve. His seem to be influenced by the amount of video games he plays, because they happen more frequently when he's been playing a lot, and he's running away from "bosses". The best way my parents found to wake him up (because he seriously wouldn't snap out of it, even though he was carrying on conversations) was to make him use the bathroom. Good luck, I bet these are so hard to go through as parents!

Julie said...

Oh poor Claire!! I don't have any words of wisdom for you, but hopefully someone here will! That would freak me out too!

Streeters said...

Breckin has done that a couple of Times and it scares the CRAP out of me!!! I am sorry but I have no Words of Wisdom For you...Just Hold her Close and let her know you love her...and CRY (Silently)..I have found that if I act scared it makes him worse. It has Taken him about a half hour to completely calm down. He never says what is wrong though. Just acts terrified and we don't know what he is scared of. It makes it Extra Hard for me when I have taken a sleeping pill because i am a little disoriented and irritable whe I get suddenly woken up after a pill. It Hasn't happened for a couple of months. Good Luck and tell her Her Uncle Heath Loves her.
Heath (Your Favorite Brother)

Streeters said...

PS...The Look on His Face is always a Scary Blank Look...Like he doesn't even know who I am.

Matt, Rachel, and Madden said...

Wow, poor Claire. I can't imagine watching my child go through that. I don't really have any advice for you but it sounds like you are doing the right thing.

Ryan and Susie said...

Ethan suffered from night terrors from about the age of 2-3. We noticed that he would have them when he went to bed exhausted or stayed up too late. He's grown out of them, at least I think. I'm sorry to hear that Claire has had them, they are really sad to see. I hope she gets over that soon.

Christina said...

Danica had night terrors from the time she was 6 months old until she was over three. It's the worst thing in the world for a parent. Danica never could tell us what she was afraid of because she would be so wiped out after the 30 minutes of screaming she would fall asleep almost instantly. It was aweful and I hope none of my other children have them. I compeletly feel your pain.

Christina said...

ps - I would sing Primary songs to her and tell her that she was so brave and that she was going to be okay and that seemed to help.

Elisa said...

I actually just experienced this over Christmas break with Kayla too. We were down in Arizona visiting family and Doug was away for training for work so I was all by myself. She woke up and was crying, jerking away from me and holding her legs in the air because the "animals were trying to get her." This lasted for about 30 minutes so I called her doctor and they told me to take her to the ER because she had a low-grade fever as well. Luckily after we got her all ready to go she started acting normal again so they told me to just watch her. But she completely remembered why she was upset and was explaining how the elephants were mad at her and the monkeys were jumping on her. It completely freaked me out...I wished Doug had been there to give her a blessing. I feel for you guys (and for Claire)'s scary.

Rebecca said...

SO scary!

Sydney has had some before but not as bad. One time, probably the worst of them, I had even put her in the bath because she had requested that and all the sudden it was if she was hallucinating and saw something in the water and she stood up and started screaming.

I think the best advice I got was to wake her up as much as possible as fast as possible.