I HATE naptime. Seriously. That is probably not something most moms say, but every single day I dread it. Unlike other parents, naptime is not a time for me to get stuff done or enjoy some time to myself. Instead, every day it's a struggle and a fight.
Grace has always been a horrible napper. I've written posts about it before but it's gotten way worse in the past couple of months. At night, we do her bedtime routine, she says "bye bye, goodnight" and lays down and goes straight to sleep. During the day, the only way she will nap at all is if I sit right next to her crib holding her hand until she goes to sleep. This can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour depending on the day. If I only had one child, this wouldn't be an issue. But of course, Connor needs my attention too and when she needs me to sit there for an hour, it is extremely difficult to keep him happy. I can often put him in the exercauser and we are fine, but other days I end up with him screaming and her crying because I'm not holding her hand. I've tried letting her cry it out, I've tried all sorts of methods to get her to sleep, but nothing else works. If that was the only problem, I'd be okay.
Grace has never napped more than 30-45 minutes at a time. I can count on one hand the number of times she's napped for longer than an hour since she was about Connor's age. Let me add that she does definitely still need her nap. She is horribly grumpy by about 5 PM if she doesn't get one. Well, until she was about 2 years old, she would wake up after about 30-45 minutes and would simply fall back to sleep on me after I went and got her while sucking on my finger (yes, it was a disgusting habit but it was the only thing that worked.) But since we broke that habit shortly before her 2nd birthday, nap times have been getting harder and harder.
Now, about half of the time when I hear her start to scream (she has never happily played in her crib, she always starts to cry the moment she wakes up) I go in and she doesn't recognize me. She refuses to let me touch her. She screams, thrashes, hits, kicks, throws her stuffed animals, and arches her back. If we try to touch her she screams harder and she doesn't make eye contact at all. She acts like she's possessed. If we do grab her and take her out of the crib, she thrashes around until we finally just lay her on the ground where she continues the hitting, kicking, and screaming. It is honestly terrifying to watch. Then after 10-15 minutes of that, she snaps out of it, reaches out to me and either falls back to sleep on me or asks to play or eat. It's like it never happened.
After doing a lot of research, I'm thinking it's sleep terrors or confusional arousals. Basically she's waking up in the middle of a deep sleep and is not fully awake. Most experts say not to touch or move them during these episodes, so lately I've just been leaving her in her crib and simply sitting in the room so that I will be there when she snaps out of it. It is so hard to watch.
Most things I've read say that the normal cause of sleep terrors is lack of sleep and being over tired. Almost everything I can find talks about night terrors, not about episodes during the day. The normal treatment is a longer naptime (ha!) or an earlier nap time. She sleeps normally from about 7:45 PM to 7 AM every night and has no trouble sleeping all night. When she started having the terror episodes, it was normally when she took a nap around noon. So I tried putting her down earlier, around 10 AM. Most every activity for toddlers starts around 10 AM here so it's
extremely difficult to have a 10 AM nap time. But I was willing to try it
if it would help. It did work for a bit, but anytime I would have to put her down later due to playdates or errands,
she would have extreme episodes that went on for around 20 minutes. The past few days have been bad even with the earlier nap time.
I'm at my wit's end with nap time. I have an appointment with her pediatrician next week and I will be talking to him about it then. I don't know what we can do about it, but at this point I'm open to trying about anything. I am thankful that we are only having this problem at nap time and not at night. Eventually she will outgrow her naps and won't have to worry about this anymore. But I dread nap time every day. It is by far the worst part of our day.