From the day Milly Moo was born she was a dreadful sleeper, for the first year she would wake up every 15 minutes throughout the night, screaming and nothing would settle her. I have no idea how I functioned, especially as I had 2 toddlers to deal with too. By the time she was 8 months I was a walking zombie and very close to a complete and utter break down so decided to ring my Health Visitor. Unfortunately she was really unhelpful and told me she could make time to see me in 3 weeks – not what a very tired, emotional mum wants to here when you’ve swallowed your pride and admitted defeat to a stranger (I should have really known how ‘helpful’ she was going to be as I’d already had issues with her over Danny’s autism!).
Luckily for me Danny’s Occupational Therapist rang me later that day to see how Danny was getting on with his sensory issues and had the misfortune of me breaking down over the phone to her. Now anybody who knows me knows I’m one to carry on regardless with a smile plastered on my face but I had reached breaking point. She offered to take Milly on for me even though she wasn’t diagnosed with anything and arranged to come out later that week to try and put some techniques into our routine to encourage Milly to sleep.
6 months later and we had tried EVERYTHING, I’d even spent the day walking around with a blanket down my top so that my scent would be on it to comfort Milly at night but still nothing was working. I couldn’t complain too much as she had started to sleep for 2 hours a night (mainly broken sleep) but had dropped her short daytime nap 😦 The fact she had never eaten food due to sensory issues didn’t help either as I couldn’t even fill her tummy to make her tired.
I eventually spoke to Danny’s consultant who arranged for us to go and see her after Milly’s 2nd birthday. So as soon as she turned 2 off we trotted to the Childrens Development Unit (CDU) where Milly was prescribed melatonin. Normally I don’t do medication, but for both mine and Milly’s health we thought we’d give it a try, knowing that it helped my niece (who also has autism) sleep better.
The melatonin took a while to work but after a few weeks Milly was starting to sleep for longer periods of time. As you can imagine it was heaven, being able to sleep for more than 2 hours a night meant I wasn’t as grumpy and run down (my other half had a lot to put up with as sleep deprivation is one of the factors which can affect my bipolar quite badly).
By the time Milly turned 3 and had been on melatonin for a year she was sleeping through the night and still having a daytime nap after playgroup. The sleep was also affecting her personality, she was no longer grumpy all of the time but happy and confident. About 3 months ago we decided that it was time to start weaning her off the melatonin as we didn’t want her to be dependent on it, so we took her dose down to 1 mg rather than 2mg. Some nights when she was stressed she still needed 2 mg but mostly 1mg was working.
Last nights bedtime came and I accidently forgot to give her a bedtime drink containing her melatonin (I know, bad mummy award for me again!) but after about 15 minutes of reading her book to herself she drifted off to sleep. I decided after last night being such a successful accident that it might be worth trying her without melatonin again tonight – although I did remember her bedtime drink tonight 😀
So I’m sitting here, with everything crossed, waiting for her to drop off to sleep on her own like a big girl and hopefully still sleep for the entire night. Here’s hoping this is a start of a brand new chapter!