Could It Be The Cause?


When we brought my daughter back from the NICU, every night she would wake up just screaming. Sometimes multiple times a night. When I was nursing, it was easy to get her to calm down. I would nurse her and she would fall back to sleep.

Ever since I weaned her, it has been going from bad to worse some days.

She would wake up absolutely terrified and wouldn’t go back to sleep for hours. And sometimes one thing would work, and the next time it wouldn’t.

When I was laid off in July, they started to become less frequent. In September, she had one at my grandma’s house, but hasn’t had any since…

Until yesterday.

She was taking a nap, and all the sudden we hear her screaming, “Mommy, don’t!” and then she would cry and call for me. Blake ran to get her and picked her up. We could tell she was still asleep and tried to wake her. She kept calling for me, so I held her close and rocked her.

Finally, she calmed down and went back to sleep.

She hasn’t had them in a few weeks and I thought we had finally defeated them.

I was thinking about them to myself yesterday, and one thing popped into my head. She has had them since birth.

Now, her birth wasn’t pretty. She was pushed and pulled, and then she was cut off her oxygen supply, and then finally she was suctioned out of an incision in my abdomen to bright lights and a cold room.

She didn’t eat for a few days, and she wasn’t held by her parents for an entire day.

The only time she didn’t struggle to get comfortable was when Blake or I was with her.

What if her traumatic birth is what she is dreaming about? What if she keeps thinking she is being taken away from us, just like she was the day she was born?

I have read some articles on Night Terrors and I know that is what she is getting. Most say they are caused by PTSD and a traumatic event.

But none of them say ways to make them go away without medication.

I am so worried she will have them forever. She is terrified to go to sleep, and I feel awful about it.

If anyone has any ideas for how to help with Night Terrors, please let me know. I hate not knowing what is going on to her.

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4 Responses

  1. Having lived with night terrors my whole life, I want you to know its less of the WHY and more of the HOW that's important. Meaning, I've found what's been most useful to me through my life is how to avoid getting them, how to feel better after having one, and how to explain & help others around me to help me through them… and far less useful to spend time wondering or worrying about why I have them. Even though mama guilt is strong, you really can't blame yourself… it doesn't help you & certainly doesn't help your daughter. C-section/traumatic birth or no, there is strong evidence that night terrors have a genetic component. Anecdotally, my father has them, as does one of my sisters. And I had two c-sections, and neither of my children have night terrors. There are several things which have helped me avoid night terrors, and help me through when I do have them. One is knowing my triggers. For me, the main cause is sleeping in an unfamiliar place. Another is noise/light while sleeping. Stress may play a part, as may not enough sleep (they do go hand in hand, don't they) if I look back through my life, though, since having children, my night terrors have actually decreased dramatically in frequency, duration, and severity, even though my sleep has reduced dramatically. I believe this is due to not sleeping as deeply, and not entering REM sleep as often. But back to the main cause, I've found that if I know I"m going to be sleeping in an unfamiliar place, I make sure to familiarize myself as much as possible with the room before bed – naming the objects in the room, noting their location, etc., right before bed. I also have found having complete darkenss helps – I believe this is better for sleep overall anyhow – nightlights, etc. can interfere with your melatonin production. Also reminding myself right before sleep that I am in a safe, comfortable place, and assuring myself that I will sleep well, and not have a night terror, has helped a lot. For the noise factor, I've found sleeping with an air purifier helps immensely by cutting down on any extraneous noises – white noise helps regulate the overall sound level in the room.If I DO have a night terror, I typically do not remember, though I have woken from several in the midst of them – the latter has happened more often as I have gotten older. My husband, if he goes to bed later than I, will "announce himself" before he comes in the room, as not to startle me (which can trigger the NT), and if I do have a night terror, he says he gently helps me back into bed, or back to sleep. No force or restraint is necessary. And trying to wake me up from the terror isn't beneficial either – typically I've had the night terror, gone through it, and right back into sleeping/dreaming. I imagine it can be very scary to see your child go through this. I wonder myself (though try not to worry) if my children will ever develop them, and I do hope not! They can be terrifying (hence the name), but are manageable. Have you discussed them with your daughter? Maybe helping her become aware of them, and talking to her right before bed, letting her know that you're always there, helping her examine her room, perhaps putting her to bed with some white noise, might all help. I think I will write a blog post about this! I hope you & your little one find some peace soon!

  2. That's sad Glade is having to go through this. This is actually a topic I know quite a bit about. I did a 20 page research paper on night terrors in high school. I have read tons on the subject. It's an interesting phenomenon. kblogger left wonderful suggestions and facts about Night Terrors. It's believed to have a genetic component like kblogger said. My mom had them, I had them and my brother Garrett had them. Luckily, most people grow out of them which was the case for everyone in my family. None of it was caused by PSTD for us at least. Avoiding them is the best by sleeping in a dark, quiet familiar place. People who are in their own homes have night terrors triggered just by falling asleep on the couch in front of the TV. The lights and noise from the TV can trigger them. Staying up too late was a major trigger for me. My brother always had them after he had a day where he played hard and was really exhausted when he went to bed.I believe it was Dateline or some major network news show that did a special on Night Terrors several years ago. I remember it being pretty informative and interesting. I would see if you can find it. Like I said, most kids grow out of them. Let;s hope that's the case. I was old enough to remember seeing Garrett's Night Terrors. It was crazy. There was no gently rocking him to sleep. If you talked to him or came near him at all, he thought he was experiencing something scary from his dream and he would freak out. We just had to follow him and make sure he was safe and didn't do anything dangerous.Good luck. I hope it doesn't continue too much longer.

  3. I am so sorry she is having these. My friends little girl had them for years then they just stopped. I hope Glade's do.

  4. OMG, I never even considered this. The younger of my twins has night terrors. She has had them since she was tiny. She (and her sister) had a somewhat similar entry into the world (pre-e, c-section 2 months too soon, month in the NICU, heart problems and breathing problems–I watched her stop breathing and saw the nurse jump up to rouse her when her alarm sounded). Only Girl2 has night terrors, but she's the one who had the most problems. She's the one we almost lost. Although, I will say that hers have lessened substantially as she has gotten older. She had them every night when she was about 9 months old and as a toddler/pre-schooler, she had them every so often during stressful situations (when dh deployed). Now, she has only had one episode in the past year or two. I never even considered her birth/early care played a part, but you have a good point. I wonder.

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