A shriek and hysterical crying, followed by howling. To my right, Andrew has also shot up in bed. Our eyes meet and we in unison we jump from the bed and hurry down the hallway.
Paige is sitting up in bed sobbing and gasping. Her arms are stiff like the precursor to a withdrawal tremor. Vacant eyes full of tears stare at something on the wall behind us.
Payton kneels in her bed, stiff and wailing. She rubs her eyes with her fists.
Andrew picks up Paige and shhhhhh’s her.
I sit down next to Payton’s bed. I whisper her name but her cries persist. “It’s okay. Paige is having a nightmare.” And so am I! This is the fifth night in a row that Paige has had a night terror and woken up Payton. I hand her Big Dog and ease her down, careful not to bump her head on the wall. She doesn’t resist, I cover her up.
Paige begins wailing again. Payton shoots up, crocodile tears dripping down her face. I’m exasperated and exhausted. “Payton, calm down, it’s just Paige!” It isn’t fair to be impatient with her but I don’t care. The last week has been a challenge with the lack of sleep and the stress of another child
Payton’s crying piggybacks off Paige’s. I groan and lie down on the floor. Desperate to soothe Payton, I rub her leg. A few minutes later Paige stops but Payton does mot. Andrew lays Paige down in her crib and tells me he’s going back to bed.
“I’ll stay with Payton until she calms down.”
“Good luck.” Andrew yawns, and leaves.
Desperate, I plead with Payton to be quiet. I’m still rubbing her leg but it has gone from slow and soothing to rapid and impatient. Over the next half hour Payton calms down. I leave when I’m sure she’s asleep.
This happens every night for another week. My empathy cup runs out. I yell at Payton. “Why are you crying? You’re fine! There’s nothing wrong!” She to cry and my irritation is again mixed with guilt. Each night I’m up with Payton long after Paige has calmed down and fallen asleep.