Desperately seeking reasons
It’s just gone 5:00 AM and I have just spent the best part of an hour trying to get the Troll back to sleep. He still hadn’t completely settled by the time I left his room, but he was at least calm, and it had gotten to the stage where my presence was perhaps becoming more of a distraction than a comfort – though it’s impossible to tell and always a gamble leaving the room too soon.
I think one of the hardest things when it comes to the Troll’s sleep is just how unpredictable it is. We can go days with him sleeping through the night and then suddenly we’ll have a night like tonight, where he’ll go down without too much of a fuss but then wake up at 04:00 screaming and inconsolable. Then there are other nights where he wakes up screaming, has a sip of water (or some boob, if it’s my wife’s shift) and then rolls over and is fast asleep before I even start the ninja dance out of the room.
Each time he wakes up we cycle through the usual list of explanations/guesses:
- His dummy fell out
- Tooth eruption
- The nebulous 'growth spurt'
The last few weeks or so, the Troll has been eating insane amounts of food, so after an hour of him being up I caved and gave him some porridge. It’s always a bit of a risk because if he’s not hungry I’ve just done him (and by extension myself) a massive disservice by, at the very least, over-stimulating him, but there hasn’t been a time when we’ve tried it that he hasn’t wolfed down everything we’ve given him. Today it had the immediate effect it usually does. A few nights ago, I took a chance on hunger again and it just seemed to make him more angry and we were up another hour before he calmed down.
Once we’ve run through all the things on the list and nothing seems to work then it’s just a matter of taking a deep breath and riding it out. The only thing we can be relatively certain of is that he’s not in any significant physical pain as it wouldn’t suddenly and very magically disappear if he gets picked up.
As frustrating as it is for us, it must be really hard for him. At least when I wake up in the middle of the night, I know it’s because I need a wee or I’m stressed about one thing or the other; I am able to think about and rationalize what is happening. I must be really annoying for him to have a bottle of water or porridge shoved in his gob if what he’s trying to tell us is that he just needs a good fart.
Perhaps it will get easier when he is able to articulate what’s keeping him awake and say I am hungry, thirsty, scared after a nightmare, gassy. But then I read in one of the parenting groups I belong to on Facebook about a parent dealing with a 3-year-old who has been waking up in the middle of the night in *rage* and refusing to go back to sleep unless she gets some bread with jam. Now the problem is easier to identify but the solution isn’t any clearer.
One of my friend's comments on my post about going through the 10-month regression hit the nail on the head:
I think the need for reasons and explanations and to looks for causal patterns is as strong and as innate as the need for water, food and the affection of others; the desire to know why things are the way they are is what, for example, drives science, but shoehorning in explanations where they don't belong is also what’s given us religion and a whole host of pseudoscience.
Trying to find an explanation is important because it means being able to identify a problem and therefore a solution. It’s easier to cope if you have a reason because it helps provide some semblance of predictability, control or finality, even if there’s nothing to be done.
Accepting that it something isn’t science doesn’t sit well with me, but in this case, I think she’s right.