Well, it looks like we’ve reached another questionable kid milestone, one guaranteed to make us nervous wrecks, one poised to be more heartbreaking than anything since the introduction of night terrors.
This time, it’s nightmares.
And let me say, I thought night terrors were bad–they’ve got nothing on nightmares. Because here’s the thing–with night terrors, the kid has no idea what’s going on. Once he’s back in full deep sleep, it’s like it never happened.
Nightmares? Nightmares are the horrific gift that keeps on giving. He remembers the fear, and holy crap is that heartbreaking. Screaming and screaming and screaming, out of fear. It’s…horrible. And heartbreaking. And exhausting.
The other day, we had a night where he woke up 5 times with nightmares. The next night he had a night terror in the beginning of the night followed by 3 nightmares in the early hours of the morning.
With the nightmares, all he seems to want to do is cling to us, to be cuddled. Heaven help you if you put him back down to in bed before he feels safe, then the screams start all over again. I feel like this probably isn’t the best way to handle them in the long-term, but it’s so hard to listen to him scream out in fear.
I know, on the one hand, that this is a developmentally appropriate thing. His imagination is kicking in, he’s started to make up stories and activities in his head, it’s bound to carry over into the night when he’s sick, tired, overwhelmed (of which he was all of those things last week).
But knowing that intellectually and handling it emotionally are two different things. Because those sad, scared cries are really enough to give ME nightmares.