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The MIddle of the Night Blues

Why is it always the middle of the night when those words of self-doubt seem the loudest? Last night, as I was up with Ethan from 1:15 -2am, I was losing the battle of fighting back against those words.  Exhaustion sapped my strength.

Ethan has had a rough week. Behaviors we haven’t seen consistently in a while have been creeping back in. While not entirely surprising (we’ve had a slew of schedule changes the past couple of weeks, on top of dealing with the flu), it’s still defeating. Maybe we are choosing to fight too many battles right now. When it’s 1:30am, and I’m in his room for the third time – after listening to him kick and punch the wall for twenty minutes – all the doubts, the what-if’s, the should-haves are louder than any of the calm thoughts I was trying to convey to him.

He could not sleep. Normally, he just comes into our room and into our bed. While we were great with Ryley and Grace about putting them back in their rooms to sleep, we have been slack with  Ethan. So he’s in our bed almost every night. We have decided it’s time to break him of this habit. So two nights ago, we told him we would give him a quarter for every night he stays in his bed. Huge fail the first night. Last night, he was staying in his bed, but he was really unhappy about it, thus the wall punching/kicking.

He was completely unable to problem-solve by the time I got to him. He was thirsty, but there was a dead mosquito in his cup. I emptied the cup, cleaned it out, refilled it and gave it back to him. He was cold, but he was unable to process there were two other blankets at the foot of his bed. I pulled them up over him. I rubbed his back, kissed his cheek, told him I loved him, and went back to bed. Five minutes later, the wall kicking/punching started again.

He could not fall asleep he said. I went back through all the tools we’ve given him to use when he thinks he can’t sleep. Think of one calming word over and over, focus on your breathing, imagine in your mind (with your eyes closed) your favorite place. As I lay there with him for awhile listening to him breath, I couldn’t help but wonder what things I’d done, or not done, when he was a baby and toddler to make him the way he is. Logically, I *know* nothing I did or did not do made him this way, but I can’t help those thoughts in the middle of the night.

How did I fail my child? How am I still failing him? Why are we seeing the same behaviors return? Why do we have to deal with this at all? Did I eat the wrong thing? Did I have too much caffeine while I was pregnant with him and nursing him? Did I not spend enough time with him or did I spend too much time with him?

I finally got him settled and returned to my bed. But it took awhile to stop the swirling thoughts. It took some time to calm myself. Added to the thoughts of failing him somehow were the thoughts of how I’ve failed myself this week…..losing patience with my sick little girl, berating myself for not running the other day, beating myself up for having that second glass of wine last night, disappointment in myself for not finishing all the tasks I had set out for myself yesterday. Usually I am able to look around and realize what we deal with is so minimal when compared to the lives of others. But there are days (and/or nights) when I just wallow in how much this sucks. We are both tired today. We are supposed to be leaving tomorrow for a long weekend, but I am exhausted and drained. And I’m already dreading the night ahead, wondering what battles we might face, and what defeating words I will hear at 1:30am.

One thought on “The MIddle of the Night Blues

  1. You’re a beautiful friend, mother, wife, auntie, sister…. where do I end. You forget yourself to care for others. This is why I love you and admire you. Why I count myself lucky to have you as my deepest, dearest friend.
    I wish I knew the answer to why Ethan has this burden in life.. and therefore you have this burden. What I do know is that it’s no fault of your own. You did nothing.. nor did you do something to cause his autism.
    Deep breath. Take yourself to your calm place… even if in your mind. Know you are strong, able and loved. You’re not alone in this journey!

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