You know how I recently said that I’m not a warrior mama? Perhaps I just wasn’t a good one. I’ve spent the last three years battling a lack of sleep, and losing every time. Regular readers know that Pudding, like many children with autism and/or ADHD, has trouble sleeping through the night. Or going to sleep by herself. Or staying asleep beyond 5am.
I like my sleep. Some would say that I’m a better person when I get it, but only those who have met me. With sleep I have energy and confidence, patience and determination. All the things that might make you a good fighter, if that was what you chose to be. Without it? Let’s just say every day could be a battle, and nightfall brought no respite.
If there was a method, or tactic, or intervention that claimed to help with sleep, we tried it. Dietary, sensory, homeopathic, behavioural, pharmaceutical…nothing worked.
Gradually- and this may have come around sooner if I’d had enough sleep to ever think straight- I realized we needed to stop fighting. For the last few months, we went with a plan that looked a lot like surrender.
When Pudding woke up in the night, she would come in our room, Daddy would vacate the bed, and she would crawl in beside me. Or one of us would lead her back to her room. She wouldn’t go back to sleep unless we were also there with her, and when she woke again, she would repeat the same process. If we didn’t, lets just say we’d be dealing with four people who were awake all night.
It was still a fight though. A fight to reassure her before her crying and screaming woke up her brother. A fight to rouse myself before Spectrummy Daddy took another night duty before having to go to work the next day. A fight to keep going the next day after endless nights of disturbed sleep. A fight to keep trying to find the magic trick, the cure-all, the answer to our years of insomnia.
A couple of nights ago, I decided to offer a compromise. I asked Spectrummy Daddy to bring in the mattress from Pudding’s old bed, and we made her a little bed on the floor next to ours. We’d unsuccessfully tried this before, but this time I explained that if she needed us in the night she could just come and get in the bed next to us. We wouldn’t make her leave if she didn’t disturb us, or wake up her brother. A negotiation.
And it works! I found her there this morning, and I hadn’t heard her come in during the night. Sure, one day, I’d like her to be able to sleep in her own bed, but right now she is too anxious, and she can’t conquer that enemy by herself yet. After years of fighting a losing battle, this negotiation feels like a win. And for once there are no casualties.