It’s not unusual to get a visit from Garrett in the middle of the night. We’re still going through the crib-to-bed transition and he’s getting used to it. However, sometimes we will wake up at 3am to the sounds of “Mommy? Daddy? I need you.” And then one of us draws straws to see who it will be. (Conveniently, I fall asleep in the middle of our debate, so GWE ends up going into his room.)
Tuesday night was different. After putting the kids to bed, GWE and I crashed early knowing that we were in for a crazy few days with the kids due to the holidays. At 3:00am, Garrett began calling for us. Well….not exactly calling for us…more like screaming bloody murder with a “mommy” and “daddy” mixed in for effect. I was the first one down the hall, but GWE somehow slipped past me and got there first. I figured one parent was enough, so I turned around and headed back to bed.
As I got back to my room, I could continue to hear Garrett screaming. I heard, “NO!” and “I WANT TO LEAVE” and finally, “I WANT TO GET OUT OF MY ROOM!!” With that, GWE hauled ass back into our bedroom with Garrett in tow. He was really rattled by something.
We got him into our bed and he was burning up with a fever. He was crying and screaming about something and it took a few minutes for us to calm him down to the point where he could tell us what was wrong.
In between the sobs, we saw him repeatedly try to push something away (that wasn’t there) and finally heard him say, “There are wormies on me!! Get the wormies off!!! I don’t want the wormies to get me!!!!” GWE and I tried to calm him with “There are no wormies buddy. You’re ok,” but the truth was we were looking at each other and trying not to panic. GWE said, “I think he’s so hot that he’s hallucinating.” It seemed like a logical assessment.
Every few minutes he would fall back asleep only to jolt awake again screaming about the “wormies” that were trying to get him. I attempted to calm him while GWE looked online for any information as to what was going on. What she found was “Night Terrors” (or as we’ve renamed it “Scare the Living Shit Out of Parents Syndrome.”)
Garrett had all of the signs of Night Terrors:
1) Occurs during the first part of sleep
2) Typically, occurs in children 3-6, but only in 1-6% of the population. (Hey – he’s an elitist!)
3) Patients tend to “bold upright” with their eyes wide open in a panic
4) Patients appear confused, disoriented, elevated heart rate, sweating, etc.
5) Patient appears to be awake, but they are still “technically” asleep. (Garrett was calling for us while we were right in front of him, but he never saw us. His pupils were wide open. He was there, but “no one was home.”)
6) Patient will not remember the event in the morning. (Although it will clearly haunt the parents for the rest of their lives!)
For the rest of the evening, Garrett stayed in our bed cradled between us. Every once in awhile he would thrash or kick in the middle of the night, but nothing was so startling as when the Night Terror began.
As things began to calm down, GWE made a very funny observation: “Leave it to Garrett to be afraid of the cutest, least harmful thing out there. Wormies!”