The toddler recently had a bad night.
We’ve gotten spoiled, I suppose, with him sleeping peacefully from 8:30 p.m. until 7:30 or 8 a.m. Granted, it did take THIRTEEN MONTHS of horrible sleeping (and the end of breastfeeding) to get to that point. But now that we’re here? It’s really, really as awesome as it sounds.
Randomly, he will have a bad night. And that happened to fall on the evening of Feb. 13 (and into the morning of Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day). Riiiiiight as Darling Husband and I were drifting off to sleep.
The toddler screamed — SHRIEKED bloody murder — from 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. Nonstop. No breaks. And no real reason for crying.
Once he started, Darling Husband went in and tried to soothe him. He was fine, as long as he was in his arms, and then started screaming the second he was put back in his bed.
When he left the room, I immediately asked if he had checked the toddler’s diaper. That’s really the only reason that he’ll shriek like that in the middle of the night — a rare middle-of-the-night poo explosion.
He hadn’t checked.
I sent him back in.
It turned out? The diaper was clean. That wasn’t the issue, as Darling Husband so smugly reported.
So we waited.
I went in once, and had the same results as Darling Husband. Nothing was wrong. He just wanted someone in there with him. So I held him for a minute, then tucked him back into bed and left. And he screamed.
Here’s the thing: Darling Husband kept FALLING ASLEEP! The toddler was screeching through a thin sheet of drywall or whatever the hell walls are made from, and he just fell asleep! Repeatedly!
Me? I was lying there, incredibly tense, saying things like, “He never does this. I wonder what’s wrong? I wonder if he had a bad dream. He sounds terrified. Do you think it’s a night terror? Why does he sound so terrified?”
There was no way I could sleep through his screams! He honestly sounded like he was being tortured in there. I kept thinking of how scared I used to get at night, seeing shapes and imagining they were horrible creatures.
Hell, I was terrified of the dark after watching The Blair Witch Project at 16, and then again when I watched The Ring at age 19. Is that what my sweet baby was feeling? Was he scared to go in the woods, or be near a television or a phone?
(Crap, now you’ve got me thinking about The Ring again. I’m not going to sleep easily tonight. Damn, that movie is scary.)
I felt kind of horrified that Darling Husband could tune out our baby’s screams so easily. So, of course, I woke up him whenever he fell asleep.
“Wake up! Distract me! Keep me from going in there!” I kept whining. Yes, whining. Keep in mind it was after midnight at this point.
“He’s fine! He just has to tire himself out,” was Darling Husband’s sleep reply. “Just ignore it and go to sleep.”
As I lay there thinking of it, I decided that it wasn’t that Darling Husband was a creep for being able to ignore our baby’s blood-curdling screams. He just wasn’t wired to feel them the way I was.
To him, it was just an annoyance that he could tune out if he tried, and easily fall asleep.
To me, it was like every nerve of my body was willing me to rush in there and comfort him.
The clock flipped over to 1 a.m., and I swear, he stopped screaming suddenly and went to sleep. Finally I was able to fall asleep. Darling Husband had been asleep for ages, of course.
Do other mothers find themselves in this crying connundrum, where Dad can easily ignore it and Mom feels like she’s going to jump out of her skin? Please share!
I’m Heather Laura Clarke. I’m journalist and blogger in beautiful Nova Scotia, I have a 10-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, I married my high school sweetheart, and this is the story of my handmade life.
I have depression and anxiety, and I fight like hell every day to keep it from taking over my life. Making things isn’t just a hobby — it’s part of what keeps me alive.
Whether I’m working on my novel, decorating a room, busting out my power tools to build furniture, getting muddy in the pottery studio, sewing clothes for my kids, or cross-stitching a swear word, I’m all about using my creativity to craft a life I love.
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