So last night was a bit rough for me. First, we only got the girls to bed around 10:00 (as opposed to their regular bedtime of 8:00) due to a Mother's Day celebration we had for my mom (more on that in a later post). So by the time I had a bit of down time it was 11:30 when I finally lay my head down on my pillow. Half an hour later -- before I even had the time to fall asleep -- it all began. The emotions I went through in the next 45 minutes or so went from concern to frustration to helplessness and desperation to gradually calming to gratefulness to filled with peace.
I bet you're wondering what happened that would've caused all of those emotions. Well, it had to do with Joelle. She has been waking up a lot at night lately (and it's always 1 1/2 - 2 hours after she's gone to bed) with nightmares. Usually it's been about bugs -- flies, spiders and...crabs? But occassionally we hear her crying and yelling out "No! Never! Never EVER!" We really wish we knew what was going on in her mind, torturing her so much. Anyway, this time I couldn't make anything out of what she was saying other than "Oww!!" I waited a few minutes thinking that she would soon stop. If it's nothing serious, it's best to let her just cry it out rather than going in her room. Often she's still half asleep and disrupting her usually makes things worse rather than better. But she wasn't calming down, so I was getting a bit concerned. So I got up to try to calm her down. Les often deals with outbursts like this, but he had to get up early for work in the morning, plus he wasn't feeling great so I figured I could handle it.
I walked in her room and it seemed like she was still partly sleeping. She was kicking her legs and saying "owie, owie" over and over. So I tried talking to her to ask her what was wrong, but she wouldn't answer me. I finally asked her if she wanted lotion, to which she managed to nod her head. She has issues with dry skin especially at the back of her legs and she scratches herself instead of coming to tell us so that we can put lotion on her. So I assumed that was what the problem was. But even getting her lotion didn't seem to calm her down. She was just screaming and I was starting to get really frustrated with her because now it seemed like she was awake but just not properly communicating with me. I tried everything -- talking to her gently, talking to her firmly, turning the light on, hugging her...nothing was working. In fact it was just getting worse. She was still kicking and screaming and she was thrashing around, her eyes closed most of the time. She was just inconsolable and this is where the helplessness and desperation came into play. I just did not know what was wrong with her. It almost seemed as if something had a hold on her and wasn't letting her go. I just kept whispering words of love to her as I held her. As she slowly started calming down I lay her back down on her pillow and got her all tucked in. She was still crying and was very restless, but I could tell that I was having a soothing effect on her, which helped me calm down gradually as well. Then I started praying out loud to her. I prayed that Jesus would help calm her down and fix what was bothering her so that she could rest. And the minute that I said "Amen" -- no, actually it was the exact same second -- she immediately stopped all crying and I could feel her body relaxing beside me. What a wonderful peaceful feeling.
I stayed there for awhile yet, rubbing her back and running my fingers through her hair just studying her face and continuing to pray for her in my mind. My heart was pounding with what we had just been through together and I couldn't believe how immediately God answered my prayers. Next time I'll pray immediately. Even if Joelle can't hear me over her screaming, God can.
After a few minutes of me rubbing her back, she inhaled a few times then opened her eyes just for split second; just long enough to see that I was there beside her. Then she quietly and calmly said to me, "What are you doing, Mama?" It was as if she was seeing me there with her for the first time. Something definitely snapped her out of it and she was back to her normal self again. I told her I was just rubbing her back. I asked her if she was having a good sleep and she said "Yes." I told her that I loved her and she whispered back, "I love you too" and within seconds she was snoring. What a change. I was in awe.
I stayed for a few more minutes to make sure she was really asleep and then I quietly snuck out of her room, telling God that I was leaving her in His hands for the rest of the night. A few minutes after I got back into bed, she cried out again -- but this time I just smiled and thanked God. She was crying "Daddy, can I have the purple one?" She was remembering right before bedtime when Les was giving the girls each a jelly bean and Joelle had chosen the purple one. Now those are the kinds of things that are supposed to be filling a little girl's mind when she's sleeping. Purple jelly beans.