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Advice please

(13 Posts)
grannyactivist Wed 13-Jul-11 02:34:58

It's well after 2 in the morning and I've just put the phone down after speaking to my distraught daughter. Her 18 month old son is screaming and isn't pacified by anything she does. He's been screaming, crying and sobbing for almost an hour and my daughter was at her wits end and very distressed when she phoned me. I'm guessing it's night terrors and it's heartbreaking to listen to him - he spent last night at my house and woke up sobbing this morning so I know how gut-wrenching it is to hear him so upset.
My daughter is a widow and is really struggling to know how to manage the situation as this waking up and crying is happening quite frequently now. I did offer to get dressed and drive over to spend the night with them, but she declined on the basis that I won't always be in a position to do that and she needs to learn to cope by herself. (She's also thinking of my health I'm sure.)
Are there any wise grannies/health visitors/GP's out there who can offer advice for her?
I'm off back to bed now, but feeling pretty sad for my lovely girl. sad Not sure either of us will get much sleep tonight.

Baggy Wed 13-Jul-11 06:23:11

Has she spoken to the health visitor? GP?

helshea Wed 13-Jul-11 06:47:54

This must be awful, but one of my sons had the same problem. I was advised to let him sleep in my room for a while until it subsided, also to actually try and get him to sleep more, apparently loss of sleep can make the problem worse. I'd also advise to make sure he doesnt have any caffeine drinks or stimulants during the day..

JessM Wed 13-Jul-11 07:04:56

Does sound like night terrors. DS1 had this when about 3-4. He would appear to be awake, eyes open, yelling, frightened of something. But he was not awake. It would last maybe 20mins. He grew out of it. Not nice at the time. It was clear that he was not aware of our presence - he was dreaming but appearing to be awake.

harrigran Wed 13-Jul-11 13:42:47

I can not remember night terrors causing crying for in excess of 1 hour. I would tend to think this is teething as the molars are quite painful when just erupting from the gum. Is one cheek red ? clue to which side the tooth is on. Children can pick up on mother's fear or worries and this can perpetuate the problem. Good luck with this distressing situation.

janthea Wed 13-Jul-11 14:20:11

He does seem rather young for night terrors. Does this only happen at night? Does he appear in pain? I agree with harrigran and wonder whether it's teeth or maybe a tummy ache. Children do seem to get very upset over something which turns out to be nothing. Maybe he's picking up on the fact that his mother is stressed and tired and this makes things worse.

crimson Wed 13-Jul-11 20:07:04

My youngest grandson has had a terrible time teething, but my daughter said that, one night, when he'd been awake and inconsolable for ages they realised that he was actually just thirsty; gave him some water and he fell asleep. Perhaps might be an idea to see a GP just to eliminate any medical problem, though. My son had night terrors for what seemed like forever. Soon after he'd fallen asleep he would sit bolt upright in bed, staring into space and shaking. Once he'd gone back to sleep it wouldn't happen again and he would remember nothing of it the next day. He must have been beyond babyhood or toddling as my main concern was him falling down the stairs, and we'd always had a stair gate when they were young. When you're on your own with a small child, it's the middle of the night, you're desperate for sleep and they're screaming it must be awful. I think your daughter needs to realise that, by needing help she's not 'failing as a mother'. As someone once said to me, to look after your children properly you have to look after yourself; sometimes as a mother you need to be given permission to do so.

HildaW Wed 13-Jul-11 21:46:17

Just a thought Grannya....a few years ago I was a volunteer with a wonderful charity called Homestart, its name is a bit confusing but they do wonderful work supporting and befriending parents with children under 5 who are, for whatever reason, having a tough time. They are non judgemental and act as unofficial 'big sisters' and are good at offering support. Each 'case' is treated individually. From what I remember families can get referals through health visitors and doctors. Let your daughter know that she must not feel she has to cope with things on her own. We all need people when times are hard, and there are some wonderful people out there, you just need to ask.

Baggy Wed 13-Jul-11 21:56:45

When I wasn't coping very well in the middle of the night, or just was so tired that I hardly knew what I was doing, I would wake up DH tell him to take over. Your DD does not have that help to hand, GA, and I expect she is still grieving. Please tell her we wish she would ask for help via her GP or some other channel. It cannot do any harm and it may well do some good. It must be so hard for her on her own. Now the letters have gone blurry. sad

jackyann Wed 13-Jul-11 22:29:39

Retired HV here.
I think that there are lots of things this could be, from thirst, to ear infection, to night terrors, even picking up on grief.
I think your daughter should find someone she trusts (HV preferably, but someone else if she would prefer) to talk about it and get sensible, practical advice, and who can suggest further referral if needed.

I would also say that you should tell your daughter that it is OK sometimes for you to come over - as she gets stronger she will manage without you.
You could say that it is easier for you to go over and help thsn desal with distress over the phone!
However, she may be refusing for other reasons.

Grief is difficult work to do at any time, it is harder to do when you have to engage with an infant. 18 month - 2 is often a significant developmental stage. Where I worked we had a specialist service for young families who had a death.

grannyactivist Wed 13-Jul-11 23:51:18

Thanks one and all for your observations and advice. My daughter has left a message for her HV (who is very supportive) asking her to get in touch.
HildaWI do agree about Homestart - I was a consultant to them many years ago.
Baby has had lots of illness and infections (had three hospital visits already) and has been treated with antibiotics about twelve times now! He gives a very obvious 'pain' cry which we're well used to and therefore recognise. It doesn't seem to be pain. Water is always offered, so it's not thirst.
Baggy Daughter's lovely warm (older, female) GP recently retired and her new (young, male) GP has already indicated that he thinks she's over anxious because she's a widow! Last month, I was convinced that following a prolonged bout of diarrhoea the baby had a urinary infection. My daughter took him to the GP and at my urging insisted the GP do a urine test. He finally and very reluctantly agreed after my daughter made a fuss. Sure enough a few days later he phoned to say the results were back and yes, baby did have a UTI.
I often have baby overnight to give my daughter a bit of a break and at least once a week I spend a day with them both. At times of particular stress (anniversaries/birthdays/memorial services) I stay overnight with them. I try to be very careful not to undermine my daughter as I actually taught parenting classes for many years (how daunting is that to a new mum?!) and being a very experienced mum and granny it would be the easiest thing in the world to take over or give the impression that I know best.
I must admit I'm wondering if baby's problem is that, at least in part, he's picking up on his mother's unexpressed grief. He cries as though his little heart is breaking. sad

jackyann Thu 14-Jul-11 11:48:04

Have PM'd you, I hope that's OK

grannyactivist Thu 14-Jul-11 23:53:47

jackyann Thank you. smile