Friday, January 7, 2011


I recently wrote about how Melkamu's been through a lot, and how we sometimes forget it.  Actually, I wrote about it twice in different ways.  He's generally such a sweet, happy, fun-loving kid that it's easy to just see that and not think about how much he's been through.  And that's as it should be.  We don't ever forget that he has a firstfamily, that his Aachie is back in Ethiopia, that they love him also; but we don't focus on it every day.  In fact, we rarely do--although I think about his Aachie almost every day and we do look at her picture or watch the video of Kamu with her or look at his "Aachie book" fairly frequently, we do it to remember his first family's role in his life, not to be sad.  We don't focus on the losses that he's had as a routine matter because the reality is that regardless of what's happened in the past, we are a family now and we just go on about our lives as they are. 

I put dreams into four basic different categories: good dreams, bad dreams, nightmares, and night terrors.  Good dreams are lovely or indifferent or even weird, but not bothersome.  Bad dreams are slightly disturbing but not too bad--maybe they wake you up a little but you can go back to sleep.  Nightmares are bad--they wake you up and then you have trouble falling back to sleep, because you're afraid they'll come back.  Night terrors are the ones that you can't get out of, that seem never-ending.

Kamu had a night terror tonight.

He wasn't feeling great earlier, so I let him fall asleep in my bed as I read in there.  About 2 hours after he fell asleep, he started to get anxious in his sleep--squirming around, fretting.  Then he started to cry and shake.  Then he sobbed for his mama, even though I was already holding him and trying to soothe him.  Then he wet the bed.  That's when I knew that he was having a night terror, not just a bad dream or even a nightmare.  I can't even tell you the last time he wet the bed.  It has to have been close to a year ago, if not longer.

Thankfully Jason came up right at that moment and helped me get him out of bed, sobbing and anxious and terrified, so that we could get cleaned up.  I brought him into the shower with me.  His eyes were open but he kept sobbing "I want my mama.  I want my mommy."  I kept hugging him and saying "I'm right here and I won't ever leave you," but it didn't make any difference.  I don't think he was even awake yet--he could not pull out of this night terror.  At one point I even said "Look at me, baby, who am I?"  He said, "My mama...I want my mama."  I got him cleaned off and handed him out to Jason so that he could get him dry and clothed while I finished washing off. 

I went into his room after my shower.  Jason had gotten him settled and he was finally calm and asked me to cuddle him.  When I laid down, he said "I had a bad dream in the shower."  I said I knew he did.  He said "You were there?"  He genuinely wasn't sure.  I said I was and promised yet again not to leave him, that I would always be his mama.

Finally he'd pulled out of it.  He was OK with my going downstairs a few minutes later as he was on the verge of sleep, and gave me a kiss and said "I love you."  Now he's sound asleep.

Seeing him like that makes me want to sob and cry.  His bad dreams and nightmares are about being lonely.  His night terrors are always about me leaving him in particular.  He hasn't had one in a long time but they're always just awful and generally, I'm not the one who can calm him down--Jason can do it but I can't.  It almost feels like his brain is so locked into the idea that I've left him that he can't comprehend that I really am still there.  I can't even say what might have triggered it today, as I kept him home from school since my sister is here visiting and we were together all day.  Maybe it was nothing in particular, maybe it's that he wasn't feeling well, maybe I just don't know what it was.

It makes me feel so helpless to see him so utterly terrified that I will leave him, and I can't even bring him out of it to tell him I'll always be there.  To watch him on a daily basis, you'd never, ever know.  But it's always there in him.


trmills said...

Precious boy. I'm sorry you and Kamu had such a hard night, Erin. Praying the new day has brought peace for both of you.

by us said...

Since this is our first child we don't have any comparison...but Seth has gotten hysterical at times and said I thought u left me. Even though he was much younger than Kamu...I wonder what memories he has? Do birth children have this sort of anxiety?

Ms. Fricknfrack said...

We had a recent one, too. Your title says it all - heartbreaking. Hugs to you and your beautiful and amazing son.