Friday, January 19, 2007


I have a medical mystery on my hands. Armchair physicians and advice-givers, get your pens out.

Every night for the past two weeks, Zac has woken up screaming. Trust me when I say that my child can scream! It starts out at as a low whine and increases in pitch and intensity until I go into his room. Once in his room, he stands up and holds his arms out: a clear sign that he wants me to pick him up and take him into my room where he can lay in Momma's bed.

If that were the end of the story, I would understand. The theory would be that he wakes up, realizes his alone, and calls out to me until I go and get him and allow him to sleep next to me.

Except, when I bring him into the "family bed", he doesn't stop screaming. In fact, he just gets more and more angry. He starts kicking furiously, pounding his heels against the mattress, throwing the covers off of him, refusing to hold his bear or take a drink of milk. The tantrums next to me can last anywhere between 20 - 45 minutes. By the end of the screaming, I'm willing to buy Zac a car if he wants it. I'll do anything to make him stop so we can go back to sleep. I try and hold him and he pushes me away with a look of disgust on his face.

Last night, I just let him cry it out in his crib for awhile to see if he would fall back asleep on his own. He cried in his crib from 12:30am - 1:30am until I couldn't stand it anymore. I brought him in with me and he cried for another 30 minutes. At 2am, he finally fell asleep, exhausted. We both were. Between crying and lack of sleep, I can barely keep my eyes open at work. They are swollen and bloodshot.

Does anyone know what in the hell is going on with my son?

Here are some theories that I've been playing with (in no particular order):

1) Night terrors
2) Gas cramps
3) Teething
4) Genetic predisposition of men to reject all forms of love and comfort that I have to offer
5) Allergies to....(?)

I'm open to any and all suggestions that don't involve letting him cry for more than an hour or stand out on a busy freeway during rush hour. I just need to sleep, dammit!


formertxmama said...

I have to say that I am only an armchair physician, but maybe it's an ear infection? Supposedly the pressure builds up when kids lie down and becomes more painful, which can cause them to wake up and yes, scream. This was the diagnosis for our son when this happened to us. But the fact that it's been happening for two weeks (most ear infections would clear up on their own in that time)...that's puzzling. I'd definitely call your pediatrician!

Pregnant In Texas said...

Hmm...that's a good one formertxmama, except that he has tubes in his ears and has only had one ear infection since he got them in. He also isn't showing any other symptoms of an infection beyond screaming his little guts out.

Anonymous said...

How old is he again NSPIT?


Pregnant In Texas said...

He's 19 months...sorry for not including that information in my post.

Anonymous said...

My daughter did this when she was teething.

Anonymous said...

Children's Motrin was my best friend.

Anonymous said...

My first guess was teething as well. If you're not sure, buy some Baby Anbesol and try it. It should work right away. If that does the trick, give a dose of Motrin, too.

My older son had night terrors once when he was probably a year older than your son. This doesn't sound like that at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go with teething too. 2 year molars could possibly be it. Have you felt around the back of his gums? Top and bottom?

If he does it another week I'd bring him to the pedi and have it checked. Of course, then you have to miss work, etc. I know, it's hard.


Anonymous said...

Oh, and I 2nd the children's motrin. Tylenol is like giving water to Em. Motrin is a godsend. Check with your pedi's office for the amount to give him if it is in fact teething.


Caroline said...

Wish I could help you more, but I have no idea what you should do. Sorry....:)

Anonymous said...

My son used to do the same thing, now it rarely happens (but he just did it night before last). Trust me when I say I know how awful it is. You shift between feeling really sad for him and really angry that he just won't STOP. My son is 28 months. What finally helped was seeing a chiropractor (all the usual suspects like gassy, teething, were not it. the ped was no help). In our case it was allergies. Its usually to something he has come in contact with (a lotion he's allergic to, or a new laundry soap). I started buying only natural things and the tantrums stopped. He recently had a flare up of eczema (my husband put hand soap in the bathtub!), so its not a shocker to me that the wild banshee middle of the night tantrum returned. They don't want any help you offer, and don't want to be alone. Its maddening. Oh yeah, sometimes I give him benedryl (and if he's in tantrum mode i have to force it, which is always interesting). His dr. prescribed it for my son when he was around your son's age, for some allergy itching at night that he was doing. It helps him sleep, and seems to calm whatever is going on.

Good luck, I didn't know other kids did this. My first born never did. Hang in there!


P.S. just thought of one more him chamomille before bed often would help pre-empt tantrums. You can find it at the health food store (little pellet form, he can chew, or they also have dissolve in your mouth kinds). I also sometimes added some chamomille tea to his bottles and that worked as well. You can email me if you have any questions

Pregnant In Texas said...

Is it reasonable to think he's teeething EVERY.SINGLE.NIGHT? I don't know. It seems like he's in some kind of habit or routine. He wakes up around the same time every night and just starts screaming.

Anonymous said...

Molars take a long time to break through, if that's in fact what it is. It can take 2 weeks or a month for them to finally break the surface. Problem is there isn't many sharp points so they really have to work to break through. Which causes pain for the kiddos.

And Em wakes up at the same time every night. 1 am. I can almost time her.

If it was me (take it with a grain of salt) I'd go ahead and give him a dose of tylenol/motrin/whatever and see what happens tonight. See what he does.

Em never was one of those go back to sleep by herself babies. She's 2 1/2 and still doesn't fall asleep by herself in her bed. Personally, I have to get her to bed so I can get some sleep and go to work in the morning. It's not one of those battles I choose to fight. But she would've screamed too. She never will fall back asleep without me.

Dee said...

My Zach went through a spell of this a while back and we never did figure out for sure what it was causing it. I started giving him a dose of Benadryl every night before bedtime (because he had some allergy issues at the time too) and it helped him sleep. After a few weeks he was sleeping fine so I backed off on the Benadryl.

He has also woken up a couple of times with gas pains during the night and will just scream and scream until I can force some Mylicon gas drops down him. He settles right down in about five minutes. The gas drops might be worth trying just in case that is what is bothering him. If that isn't the cause, at least it might help you rule it out. The gas drops won't hurt him at all if it isn't.

On the other hand, it may not be anything medical at all and just could be a phase he's going through. Regardless, I hope it ends soon so you can get some sleep.

EMC said...

Listen, get him allergy tested ASAP. I was allergic to both milk and corn as a child--- my parents tell horror stories about how I had night terrors every night, screamed hysterically without being able to wake up, etc.. My parents were actually concerned that I was a lunatic toddler, and that they had managed to really, really screw me up before I could even walk. Then they got me allergy tested. They took milk and corn (and all related products) out of my diet and the night-terrors stopped immediately. As did the scary and random tantrums. Allergies in children can do all sorts of weird things, from causing night-terrors to mimicking autism and bi-polar disorder. Allergy testing isn't necessarily fun for anyone, but it's got to be better than the night terrors, right?