Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Would you ...

... please just pray for our little Elijah?

Could you pray that he ... and we ... could you just pray that we will all have sweet sleep?

I'll summarize by saying that for about two months (since we got back from our Germany trip with JB's parents), we have been facing very frustrating sleep issues with Elijah. The issue is two-fold.

The first is sleep onset. He freaks out when he goes to bed. He sobs hysterically. He refuses to stay in his bed as he tells us he has to go potty, poopy, needs a tissue, etc. etc. for up to three hours. During this time he is nearly impossible to calm down. He is beside himself.

We have tried everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Reward. Punishment. Crying it out. Trapping him in the room with a gate. Nothing seems to work for more than one night.

The second part of the issue is that once he does fall asleep, he has to get up and go to the bathroom dozens of time throughout the night. He really does have to go (albeit not very much.) Each time he gets up, he is on the edge of a cliff (and sometimes falls off) which travels down a deep path of hysterics. If we leave him in the middle of the night and don't let him pee, he can cry for hours begging to go which is a miserable series of events. He cries. He screams. He gets confused. He begs. He pleads. For something or nothing.

JB and I have recently resorted to putting him in his crib and letting him just cry until he falls asleep. This is working but is miserable for all of us. And, it doesn't stop the middle-of-the-night issues. He wakes up repeatedly begging for us to get him out so he can use the bathroom which he does have to do, just not very much.

When I was a young child, I remember having to use the bathroom frequently. Elijah probably goes five times for every one time Isaac goes, even during the day. During church the other day he had to go six times in one hour. We are working on having him hold it longer and longer during the day.

But in the meantime, neither JB nor myself are sleeping very well. We've moved Abigail back into our room in a pack-n-play so her brother can have the crib. Between her periodic stirrings and dozens of wake-ups for Elijah, we are plum exhausted. Isaac is not sleeping that great either as he sits idly by reading books in his bed while he waits each night for his brother to calm down.

In addition, I can't usually get all three down at the same time in the afternoon anymore and Veronica is gone which means napping during the day for me is a rare event. We can usually get the boys and Abigail in bed by 7:30pm but are up until 10 or 11 waiting for Elijah to stop crying. Then he gets up multiple times in the night. And someone is usually up by six a.m. Even when JB and I take turns with ear plugs, our sleep is just ... bad.

I am open to suggestions, but please offer them in a constructive way as I am so tired that I could easily begin crying. (Just being honest here.) But more than anything, I could really just use prayers for our boy. We are not sure if this is a stage, nightmares, manipulation, or what, but it all started when he stopped wearing diapers to bed. It started a bad chain of events.

This is the first time in my three years of parenting that we have come against an obstacle that we can't seem to get around. In the past, things have come up. And in a day or a week we figure out a strategy. This time all our brainstorming and praying has left us no more improved. I know it is a stage. I know it will pass. But until then, we all need more sleep. And I am taking all the kids to Florida by myself in a few weeks.

I know this is the stage many parents throw the kid in bed with them, but we just don't want to do that as we know it will only be a temporary fix and will not improve our sleep.

Pray please. Thanks everyone!


Jennifer said...

This may seem counter-productive but not sleeping is a serious issue. My daughter was potty trained young (at 2) but was a bear when she woke up. She would wake up at night to potty and scream for hours trying to go back to sleep in a not quite awake and not quite sleeping state. He bit the bullet and put her in pull ups at night (the actual nightime ones that pull the urine away from the body). We explained to her that she would still go to the potty with a pull up there, but that sleep was important too and we would understand if she went inside the pullup. For the first couple days she would still wake up and do her thing, until one day she went in the pull up and slept through it. We then waited until she was 3 1/2 and took the pull up away (we had some accidents) but within a week she was back to her old self. I know it seems odd to tell your kid to pee himself, but not having sleep can create mental, behavior, and cognition problems in a toddler. To me its worth it. He seems really smart and I just wonder if its the fear of having an accident that is stressing him out, if you give him the permission to he might calm down and be able to relax to sleep.

Allison Boman said...

I'm sure you've tried to think of everything, so I hate to give you more advice. However, we have used Melatonin with our daughter for a long time and it works great at helping her relax and feel sleepy at night. You can find it in liquid form, but if not the pill dissolves very quickly in apple juice. We just put it in a syringe, add a little juice and then give it to her once is dissolves about 15 minutes before bedtime. I hope you find some things that work. I know you must be exhausted!

Mie said...

I know this issue very well, albeit ours had nothing to do with the potty training. It may very well be that there is fear that he'll we the bed or he's just in a phase where he doesn't want to sleep. You know as well as I do that it can be caused by all sorts of things from not wanting to be without mommy or daddy to having had Veronica leave. It's really impossible to tell.

So I don't have THE answer. I will pray for him and for all of you as you go through this phase. I also will remind you that you are a GREAT mom and you will make good choices for your children - do what works for you all and don't let anything make you feel guilty for it! Then, also remember that he will be sleeping through the night at some point, so just keeping moving forward and pretty soon you'll look back and find that he's sleeping just fine (and so are you!).

Emily said...

No advice, as my kids are all still in diapers, but I'm praying hard for you all! That sounds absolutely exhausting.

MtnGirl said...

Put him back in diapers! Put a little potty chair in his room so he can get up and go potty right there. Is there another bedroom he could sleep in? No more drinks 2 hours before bedtime. Does he have a medical potty issue i.e. kidney or bladder infection? How about keeping him up later? I realize that it's nice to have all three kids in bed by 7:30, but if they (Elijah) aren't going to sleep - maybe they aren't tired enough. If Elijah is napping, is he getting too much rest during the day so he isn't tired at night. Ask him during the day why he gets so upset at bedtime - he might not be able to explain, but it might be worth asking him. Not that I would recommend this, but if it helped everyone sleep - putting a video on in his bedroom or something else that might calm him down. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I third the other commenters that suggested putting him in a pull-up and letting him know it's OK to use it so he can get his rest might be something to try. I'm pregnant right now and I get up to pee almost every time I wake up to roll over or hear a noise even if I don't have to go that badly- basically because I think, "I might as well go now, because I'll surely have to go later." Perhaps Elijah is having the same thoughts?

Another idea- which you have probably considered- is it a medical issue? Does he have a urinary tract infection or some bladder issue that makes him have the urge to urinate frequently? In Turkey you might not have the resources to fully investigate this avenue, but it might be worth considering if he pees often but only a little during the day and night.

Some other brain storming ideas- do you have books that talk about bedtime and how relaxing and peaceful it is to fall asleep? Books on potty training that say accidents are OK? Books on particular topics seem to really help my 2yo grasp some new behaviors or ideas. Maybe books that put bedtime in a positive light will help?

Odd idea- does Isaac have any opinions on what is going on with Elijah? Any suggestions on how to help Elijah fall asleep and stay asleep? He seems an insightful boy, and perhaps has a unique perspective.

Another tact you've probably already tried- but my mother, a school nurse at an elementary school uses all the time- is to straight up ask Elijah, "Do you really need to pee/a tissue/etc. or is something bothering you? Are you afraid to fall asleep? What do you think will happen that there is to be afraid of? Do you remember when you used to fall asleep with no problems? What's different now?" I know he's still little and articulating things might be a hurdle, but perhaps he can express some of what is going on in his mind that gets him to upset.

I'm so sorry you're struggling with this.

Gabbs said...

So sorry Elijah's having so much trouble. I hope you all get some sleep soon!! I was going to suggest the same thing as Jennifer. Nate, unfortunately, still wears nighttime pull ups. His reason is that is because he is a rock when he sleeps and never wakes up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. At any rate, I think its worth a shot. We use Good Nites by Huggies. There are others, too, but these go up to bigger kid sizes for kids like Nate.

Gabbs said...

Oops...when I originally wrote my post, Jennifer was the only one suggesting pull ups, but after I posted I see others did, too!

Jennifer said...

I am so sorry. I have always struggled with bedtime with my daughter, while my son is a piece of cake at night. It could be that he is stressing about wetting the bed. Or it could be that he is trying to give up his nap too. My daughter quit taking naps at about the age of 3 because otherwise she was up until 11pm every night. Also, I have a friend that uses Melatonin with her little one and it really helps her settle down. Will definitely be praying for you and Elijah!

Anonymous said...

First of all, Elijah was potty trained very young. And he's way, way ahead of the curve if he's out of diapers at night. Most kids that age wear diapers to bed so that avoids the second part of your sleeping problem. Not sure if you want to back track at this point, tho.
As for getting him to bed, have you considered a later bedtime for him? Maybe he'd like some alone time with you for an extra 1/2 hr. Or a different transition-to-sleep pattern. (Books, stories, prayers, etc) Or....have you considered just letting him stay up and see what time he finally "drops?" I'm not suggesting a kid sets his own agenda but it might give you a sense of his real sleep needs/body clock.
As for the frequent daytime urination, I had a daughter that had to go and go. We'd have her go potty before a car trip but before we were out the door, she had to go again. We didn't know if she was just hyper-vigilant or what. Was it mental or physical? We finally brought her to a dr and he prescribed medication (not sure what) but it did the trick. No more urgency.

Good luck with all this. I know that sleep deprivation is the greatest trial of motherhood. Good rest can help you cope with most everything.

Joia said...

Wow, Wendi. This is awful! Sleep stuff is the Worst! Praying for you all!!

Anonymous said...

I agree about the pull-ups but Elijah may not have anything to do with them.

Any time my boys went through a developmental change their sleep was affected. Is he hitting some kind of milestone (growth/language spurt?) The boys at that age went through trouble falling asleep. I remember sitting in the bedroom with them until the fell asleep. I would bring in a book, ipod or my DS and keep myself busy. I wouldn't talk to them or make eye contact. It makes for a long night but not as long if you're having to go into his room every 5 min for something. However, me being in the room was a "reward." So if the boys asked to go potty the answer was no and I left the room. So if Elijah would like you to sit with him until he falls asleep then you could fashion your consequences around him not complying to whatever rules you set up.

Something else we also started is to cuddle with them to help them calm down. So we would turn on soft music and rub their backs for one song (and then switch to the other boys). They are now 7 and still like to cuddle before bed.

In my opinion, rewards and consequences work best if they're immediate at that age. And that makes sleep issues more difficult to deal with because what can you reward your child with immediately for staying in bed and falling asleep? That's why sitting in the room worked for us.

I'll be praying for you. I think bed times and sleep are one of the most frustrating issues of little ones.


AW said...

One question:

Do you let your boys take bubble baths? We had issues with JK doing the same thing...peeing a lot, having a lot of accidents (AFTER he'd been potty-trained for a LONG time), and fussing at night. I read somewhere that some bubble baths can irritate urinary tracts, so we went bubble-LESS for a week. ALL OF IT STOPPED. Serious. No peeing a lot, no more accidents, and no tantrums to pee at night.

Just had to ask...

OTHERWISE, I'm SO sorry about the sleeplessness. B has been having a hard time since we returned from vacation as well and it's just upset the whole household's sleep routine. Hard to overcome. :-(

Wendi Kitsteiner said...

Wow -- these comments and suggestions are awesome. I plan to discuss them all with JB.

A few quick notes:

1. We cut off water at 5pm

2. We have tried later bedtimes / skipping naps with no apparent improvement.

3. He will NOT go in a pull-up. I think I am going to try it again but he refuses. We tell him it's okay but he doesn't agree.

4. I agree that he trained young. That could be part of the issue.

5. JB says it is not a medical issue in this case. The kid does drink a lot -- even now that I am only allowing one half glass of juice and the rest is water. He is still chugging.

6. Melatonin seems highly recommended. Gonna check on this.

7. Currently, he cannot articulate why he is upset. We ask him and talk to him even during the day when he is happy. He tells us "I don't know." or he will say, "I wanted my mommy." The best we can guess right now is some sort of fear.

So many good ideas. Thank you for your kind words!!!

Anonymous said...

There seems to have been alot of changes in your lives in such a short amount of time. New sister, Veronica leaving, being away from home, visitors coming and going, etc..., His little body may not have caught up with is all yet. He may not be able to proccess all of what is going on and I am thinking that he is trying to control the one thing that he can because he has no control over the larger issues, such as the one mentioned above.
I also saw mentioned that he could be going through a growth spurt or a learning spurt, I read sonwehere that a child or infant is going through a growth spurt or learning spurt, their brain works 7 times harder than normal.

Anonymous said...

It could be night terrors.

denise said...

You are doing FANTASTIC as a mother!!! I am praying for you and this difficult time. Sleep is something so NEEDED for everyone, I totally understand your frustration. However, you are doing a WONDERFUL job trying all different things and asking for help! I wish I was there to help take them for the afternoon so you could get a nap!

I don't know if these will help, a few items were already mentioned so I'll skip those:

You may already do this:
-have a specific bedtime routine, doesn't have to be long. (we do pjs, brush teeth, a short show/book, singing, praying, bed). You could add all his quirks into it so it's part of the "routine". After prayer you get a tissue to use and put one under his pillow, have him squeak out a little more pee-pee, and a sip of water. Then you are being proactive and taking away his "reasons" to get up. Then if you need to punish him after that, you know he already did all those extra things and doesn't really "need" them.

- don't put him to bed too late. As weird as it sounds, it causes major sleep problems with my kids if they go to bed too late!

- leave the hallway light on and his door partially open. Then if he is getting loud, remind him you'll have to shut the door if he can't stay quiet.

- don't let him nap past 4.

- after nap, tell him something fun you will be doing the next day. This way he is in a clear state of mind to process it. It can be going to the park, playing with play doh, getting a fun snack - something simple. But remind him that you get to do those things if he sleeps really good. Then before bedtime routine remind him again. Maybe that will help motivate him.

- a noisemaker. We use a humidifier in winter, and an air purifier during the rest of the year. It helps give a white noise and muffle what could be "scary" sounds.

- would Scrubby sleep in his room to help "protect" Elijah and make him feel better?

Again, I'm so sorry that you are dealing with this!!!

Anonymous said...

Just curious....How did he sleep in Germany when you were w/ the folks?
Praying God will reveal any hidden things and give you clear direction. Charleigh seems to have some issues too.....maybe it's the age?

Anonymous said...

Oh my...not fun! The Melatonin works good for my son as well - give about an hour before bedtime. Another thought is to use DDAVP (manufactured anti-diuretic) which JB would know about. It comes in a nasal spray and is used for people with ineuresis or diabetes insipidus (which my son has). It has been prescribed for bed wetters but might be a nightime consideration for a short run with Elijah? In my experience, you would want to give him a dose 30-60 minutes before bedtime for it to take affect by bedtime. Be careful not to give him a lot to drink once he's had the medicine as it will slow his body's ability to excrete fluids. Good luck! You're in my prayers! Lynda

Faith said...

Wow, this sounds absolutely exhausting! Worse than a newborn even, yikes! That said, I have no advice - all the ideas on here seem awesome! I am thinking of you all and wish you well...please keep us updated!

Anonymous said...

Put him back in pullups for bedtime - the problems started when you removed diapers, so get him back to the familiar. Keep bedtime routine the same every night, bath, book, bed, etc. Let him cry, but go in every 5 minutes and tell him it is ok, then move it to every 10 and so forth. When worse came to worse with my kids, mom or dad would lay with them until they fell asleep or we would let them fall asleep on our bed/floor and move them back to their own room....desperate times call for desperate measures!

Anonymous said...

There have been a lot of changes in your family. The boys have grown up with a lot of changes, but within the last year between travel, people coming and going, etc it may just be a lot for his little mind to wrap around. Could he possible be afriad that you and John will leave without him? I take it that he is well aware of your next move? Some 'social stories' may help with this to not only prepare him, as I am sure you are, for the move, but reassure him that you, John, and/or some else who loves him will be there when he wakes up. Does he have a picture/picture book/picture pillow? Or maybe something of yours or John's? If anxiety of you not being with him is part of it this may help. I also recommend Melatonin. It helps DJ greatly with his sleep issues due to his Aspergers and meds. You are all in our prayers!

Anonymous said...

One of the reasons I love reading your blog so much is that my daughter sounds very similar to Elijah, only in the female form. Very strong willed with a passionate personality that is very hard to bend when she is upset. We are just on the tail end of going through this very same thing. I could not believe it when I read your post. Here is what worked for us, though this is always a work in progress and may or may not work for you!

About 1/2 hour before everyone else is going to bed we turn all of the lights out in house except for a select few. As the other kids are put to bed our daughter is allowed to read books quietly in the living room. After they are in bed she is allowed to pick 1 show - she loves mickey mouse - that she is able to watch in a dark room while snuggling with either parent. I hate using tv but it is one of the few things that really calms her at night and she doesn't really watch much other TV. Before watching her show every night she has to recite to me the routine that follows after the show out loud - we brush our teeth, read 2 books and then it is lights out and in bed. Making her actually say this out loud to us has really helped with the process.

We have found that our daughter is extremely sensitive to the lights and our movements at night so that is why we keep the lights as low as possible. Also we have found that us making a show of "shutting" everything down for the night like we are going to the bed at the same time as her has also helped. She does not want to miss out and when she thinks we are still up it upsets her.

Finally we have found if we put a special project, toy or breakfast food out on the counter at the end of the night that she has picked out, it gives her something to focus on for the next day and is another signal to end the day.

Unfortunately I can't help on the night potty issues as my daughter still wears a diaper at night. Though I am sure we will face those same issues when we get to your point. I will be curious to see what works for you. Best of luck and many prayers. People have left great advice on here!

Anonymous said...

Has he been tested for a UTI? Thats how I feel when I have one, like I really have to go but I really dont.