We were weeks into the not sleeping. And we had a newborn. So no one was sleeping. The grown ups were getting testy, irritable. We were desperate for rest and an answer to what was causing Bea’s sleep disturbance. Our worries for her increased on a daily basis. I talked to other moms, even ones who worked with kids for a living:
“It’s a big transition,” they said.
“Give her a few more weeks,” they said.
“Developmentally if she’s still struggling with adjusting to school after thirty days, that’s out of normative ranges,” they said.
Thirty days came and went. She turned three. “Is this just three?” I thought. I had heard that three was worse than two behaviorally. Maybe this was just three, I reasoned. Maybe, but most three year olds sleep. I remained confused, concerned and completely exhausted. And my gut continued to signal me. Something was really wrong.
Reports were coming of behavioral issues at school. She was struggling. To suggest she was severely exhausted really doesn’t begin to describe it. We reached out to her doctor and OT, who were both deeply concerned. Everyone was an investigator. We asked so many questions. Conversations stretching across weeks. Do we need a sleep study? Is this night terrors? Fear of the dark? Is the sleep disturbance physiological or psychological?
Bea’s dysregulated behavior at home was escalating. If and when she ever fell asleep for a short spurt, she woke in a fit or tantrum. Mornings were becoming a battle. She began having meltdowns while we tried to get ready for work and school; they were increasing in length and scale. It became more and more difficult to transition her home from school. Over the summer months, we implemented time-outs for behavior correction. As these sleepless weeks wore on, the time-outs grew in intensity, until we were faced with a potential physical altercation to get her to stay in time-out. It wasn’t working like it was meant to. We weren’t prepared to risk hurting her physically to get a behavioral payoff. We felt powerless. So. Very. Powerless.
Beatrice has always been a bright light. Loving, funny, sensitive, curious, and observant. A truly remarkable child, she is full of life and joy and spirit and gifted with high verbal and cognitive skills off the charts. I’m probably not supposed to say those things about my own kid cause I’m completely biased. But oops, I guess I just did that anyway.
By early October we were at a point of utter crisis. Over the course of 6 weeks, our daughter had all but disappeared into a shell of her former self. She had lost her spark. Her joy was gone. She didn't laugh anymore. I remember saying over and over: "This is not my child. I don't understand what's happening. But it like she's a different child."