Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sleep of Tears

On those nights she sleeps between us, a warm soft bundle of love. She's such a tiny little girl she shares my pillow. I'm not sure when it happens but early on she'll gently worm her way inside my arms and snuggle. This pleases me.

It's difficult for me, sleep. It takes forever for my mind to allow the peace of rest to approach and shut out the demons of life. So I'm alert to her sleep patterns. As I wake, through out the night, I give gentle butterfly kisses and place my cheek to hers and listen and wait.

It always begins with her throwing out her arms, a jerk, a soft soul searing moan. Sometimes, a very very barely audible, "Oh, Papa." or "Nana." Then she'll begin to cry. This, does not please me. It rips out my heart.

I speak as soft as possible directly into her ear, "It's okay, Sweetheart, Papa's here, you're safe." And I use that 'shushing' sound in an attempt to lull her back to sleep. I kiss her and stroke her little arms. And, all the while asking God, why...why....why.

Most of the time my efforts work. She'll let out a gentle, 'ah' and return to dream land. Sometimes she takes my hand in hers and whispers, 'Papa.' I hold her tight and ask the Almighty to give this child, this angel, peace.

Many nights after these sessions I glance over and see her Nana wide awake with a look of sorrow in her eyes. We'll both stroke her, apply those butterfly kisses she so enjoys...."Papa, butterfly kisses are the way I know you love me."

She sleeps alone when she's away from us. Even now I hear her cries of nightly terror.

They haunt me.



  1. Oh my. .she seeks comfort in your arms and it feels safe. I'm not the expert, but it sounds like separation anxiety. It is very real and can be common occurence in certain times of their lives. . She loves her Papa & Nana very much, gets the attention she needs desparately, and Always --Always feels Safe. The Butterflies Kisses are something she cherishes with all her heart. My question, and no matter what, I would definitely ask it. . DOES She have nightmares,Wake up during the night, or wake up every morning crying. If so shes just getting the attention she doesn't get from them. If not I would ask other questions? Email me. .

  2. i agree with TeresaK...i think it is separation anxiety. and it is easily fixable as long as she displays no additional behaviours, like nightmares and waking up screaming, etc. - then this really is fixable Stephen!!!

    get her a special, cuddly stuffed animal. make sure it is soft and a little large-ish. now here comes the fun part - you need to sleep with the stuffed animal every night pressed up to your chest and neck when she is not there for the next few days/week.

    the next time she is there, right before bed, you bring out the new toy/baby and you and your wife make a big deal about the new toy - how special it is - how you knew that she would love it. it would be awesome if you could find a big, soft butterfly but any soft, cuddly thing will do. and then when you take her to bed put the stuffed animal between you and her, you both want to cuddle "the baby". and then give her the regular butterfly kisses all night.

    and in the morning you give it to her to take home. but before taking her home, during breakfast or on the ride home, say very nonchalantly - Little Bit, were you giving me Butterfly kisses last night. she will either say yes or no. if she says no - then act all excited and say - then it must have been (insert new baby's name) here. and have a big long conversation about how the baby/toy kept stroking you and kissing you all night and how happy it made you feel. and that even though you are a big tough granddad - it made you feel safe.

    if she says yes - it was her giving you the kisses - then say something like: that's really strange. because i woke up a few times and i am sure that the baby was stroking me and kissing me. it made me feel safe, etc.

    you get the point.

    regardless of what she answers talk about how the baby can keep her safe and warm when she is sleeping at home but that you want her to share the baby with you when she comes to sleep at your house. and, of course, so does your wife.

    my dear friend - be sure to sleep with it curled in your neck and up against your chest wearing no shirt before giving it to her. and turn it around regularly throughout the night. you may not be able to smell "you" on it - but she instinctively will.

    and when she sleeps at home with the baby - it will feel like she is all curled up with granddaddy. and the baby will give her the butterfly kisses she needs.

    try this Stephen. please try this. i helped several friends with different versions of this and it worked every time. i learned a lot about separation anxiety as i was trying to figure out my own screwed up head in my early 20's, and because i have always loved and wanted children, i learned about different approaches to taking care of separation anxiety.

    she has recently gotten a new baby brother, and as you have mentioned, they have been ignoring her, consciously or unconsciously. regardless, she is not the centre of their world anymore. but she still is in yours. and you can fix this!

    i hope that this helps, my dear friend.


  3. In the morning, is she aware of what happened during the night? Have her parents confirmed that this happens at their home?

    I've had a re-occurring dream now for almost two years and I usually feel depressed the next day for a short while. I usually have this dream about once a week.

    They're not fun, but not nightmares either.

  4. Kymber, I don't even know you--but I feel as if I've known you for years. I believe you have the most extensive yet effective way to handle this. I hope Stephen and Sweet Wife get some resolve from helping Little Bit. I agree, they are the only ones in her life that can fix this! I think them Butterfly kisses are always going to be very special to this beautiful Little Bit all of her life. When times are tough, she can take comfort knowing she is never forgotten by 2 very special people in her life!

  5. Teresak and kymber, her parents deny she has nightmares. I don't think they know as they don't sleep with her. I'll think about your suggestions. This bugs me very much indeed.

    Max, she said she doesn't remember her dreams.

    Thank you all very much. I must give this some serious thought.

  6. You already have been given the best suggestion. Monkey loves sleeping in my shirts. They are huge on her but she loves it. On the nights I let her dig one out she sleeps better even if they have been washed. Bad dreams suck. I have them often. You are so good for her.

  7. Lila, thank you for the kind comment. I'll try the shirt suggestion too.

  8. I wish I could say more than I grew up with intense dreams and talking/having to retuck sheets each night(just because people survive something doesn't make it less pleasant when it happens to those you love).

    We already have to put one of my wife's t-shirts in the crib(tied in a knot) with our 10 month old daughter. At least the boy still sleeps 11 hours without stir 99 nights of a hundred.

  9. Odysseus - you are so right! and i am glad that you are doing the t-shirt thing. am heading over to your blog now as i have not visited before!

    TeresaK - i feel like i have known you for years too! and am always glad to read a comment of yours on Stephen's blog.

    Lila - a ginormous Kudos to you for giving her your t-shirts!

    Stephen, my friend - man, i love the awesome people that comment on your blog! thank you for letting me find them!

    your friend,