When Aitch was around six months old – maybe nine – she woke in the middle in the night crying inconsolably. I remember going to her room and picking her up out of the crib and sitting down to rock with her until she calmed down. Except she didn’t. She seemed to cry harder. She arched away from me. The crying was so loud, I worried she’d wake her brother who slept down the hall. So I took her to the front room where I had been sleeping on the sleeper sofa (snoring if a motherfucker – that’s all I need to say).
By that time, Sparring Partner had heard her crying over the monitor and came to investigate. I was still holding her in my arms and trying to sooth, but was grateful when SP showed up so he could prepare a bottle. Surely once she had a bottle (I had finished breastfeeding the month prior), she’d calm. When the bottle did show up, she screamed in fury. We took turns trying to quiet her to no avail. Finally, we laid her on the bed between us and eventually she calmed.
Since then, she’s had more of these late-night fits. They are not night-terrors as those pass shortly after we talk to her and rub her back. She hasn’t had one in quite some time, so I was completely unnerved when after an hour into her nap (she usually naps at least 90 minutes, and many times for two hours), I could hear her whimpering, which quickly escalated into full-on tears. I gathered her to me and sat down in the rocking chair assuming she’d settle down as became more conscious. But she didn’t. Again she pushed away from me, but when I held her away from me, she’d reach for me.
I talked to her, hoping the sound of my voice would reassure her that I was there. She still wasn’t calming down so I laid her down on the floor on a blanket, covered her, and then laid down beside her, still talking. I asked if she was hurting (maybe her arm or leg fell asleep and the pins and needles were hurting); I asked if she was scared (daymare?); I asked if she wanted me to go away; I asked if she wanted me to stay. She would only sob, tears streaming down her face, but never opening her eyes.
After several minutes of this, she seemed to calm and settle back into a fitful nap. All the crying had caused her diaphragm to seize up and her breathing was really just gulps of air. As SP describes it, she had vapor-locked. But after only a couple of minutes of the calm, I could see her brows pull together and the tears squeeze from under her lashes again. It was nerve-wracking.
Up to this point she had said nothing. She’d pull away and cry harder if I tried to stroke her hair. I told her I would stay with her until she calmed down and waited. A few minutes later she whimpered, “I want you…”, but as soon as I’d touch her she’d say, “I don’t want you!”
Did I mention nerve-wracking??
This fit lasted for almost 45 minutes. We eventually moved into the living room once her eyes opened and stayed open and I rocked with her there where the change of scenery was somewhat of a distraction. Once she had completely settled down, she was up running around and playing with her brother and generally being silly. I asked her again why she was so sad and crying, but she would just smile at me and run off to play.
Yo-yo Mama, on the other hand, was totally stressed out and wondered if a good cry might do her some good as well.