Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19: Nightmares?

I wasn't sure what I was going to post about today until about a half hour ago, heh.

Carter is usually pretty easy to get to sleep these days. Our bedtime routine starts between 6:30-7:00, whenever he starts to seem a little sleepy. We go upstairs, have a nice long bath, and spend some extra time playing in the water. Then dry off, get in PJs, lie down in bed, and nurse. He usually drops off within five minutes.

He will then wake up once within an hour of going to sleep. I watch for it on the monitor, and when he starts to stir I go back up, lie down with him again, and nurse or cuddle him back to sleep. It's usually pretty quick, and after that he's almost always good for the night.

But sometimes, it's not so easy. Some nights he's overtired and has a really hard time settling down. He will thrash his arms and kick his legs and make lots of noise, almost as if he's trying to keep himself awake. I've learned that I just have to wait him out on those nights. He'll eventually fall asleep; I just have to be quiet and patient.

And then there are nights like tonight. He went to sleep quickly, as usual, and then woke up, as usual. I nursed him back to sleep, and was just about to slip away when he started to cry. He was asleep one moment and then crying the next, a full-out wailing sobbing cry. He was inconsolable too; no amount of hugging or cuddling seemed to help. I'm not sure, but I think he's having a nightmare when that happens. I finally got up and walked around with him, thinking that if he just woke up enough to realize whatever he dreamed about wasn't real, that he was here with Mommy and safe, he'd be fine. And he was. He even smiled at me when we got back in bed, and went to sleep quickly.

It must be weird for a baby to have nightmares, though. Even as an adult, I sometimes have a hard time shaking off a nightmare, particularly when they're vivid. But a baby would have no concept of reality vs. dreams, right? Does he even understand what a dream is, and that it isn't real? It could very well seem real to him. And Carter has stuff to have nightmares about, sadly. I'm sure some part of his brain remembers his time in the NICU, and all the times he got stuck with needles and poked and prodded, IVs put in, and so on.

I can see him on the monitor now, and he's sleeping peacefully. I can't help but wonder what he dreams about.

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