Genetics Strike Again: The Sleep Talking Toddler

Before deciding to have kids I thought about a lot of the usual parenting concerns: will I have enough money to give them a stable life? Am I at a place where I am willing to give the emotional support that a child requires? etc.

I also thought of some of the less common parental concerns: do I want to bring a child into this world when I am still unsure if I want to be living in it? Will I be stable enough to provide care for another being? What will happen if, someday, I am unable to meet my responsibilities as an adult any longer?

What I didn’t think about is whether or not Peatuk will suffer from sleep disorders. I should have, I guess, but there was too much to weigh in and, honestly, I did not think that sleep disorders kick in until later in life.

My father sleep walks, sleep talks, and has night terrors. My two older brothers also sleep talk. I remember laying in my bed as a little girl, terrified, as my brothers and father called back and forth to each other in their sleep.

Throughout high school I had relatively bad insomnia. I couldn’t sleep at night. Exhausted, I would wait for the sun to rise and then get a few hours of sleep. I thought it was a normal teen thing, and maybe it was. My first year of university, I started having night terrors. I would wake up in my boyfriend’s dorm, screaming, my heart pounding, sweating, unable to understand where I was or what was happening. As I became more stressed, they got worse. My boyfriend at the time told me I would shake and tremble in my sleep and he couldn’t wake me.

After I attempted suicide, the night terrors stopped. I still have nightmares. I am still afraid to sleep sometimes. I still stay awake until the sun comes up on some nights, but I have not had another night terror since then.

I never thought about passing that on to my son. I never thought to ask my genetic partner if he had sleep disorders. Apparently, he used to sleep walk as a kid, but he outgrew it. You would never guess now, he sleeps like a baby and never remembers his dreams.

But perhaps I should have thought about it. I should have asked. I should have prepared myself.

Peatuk has started talking in his sleep. Most nights, it is adorable. The other day he mumbled, “Yes, I want to go on the train,” and cuddled deeper into me. Last night, apparently he shouted, “Yes!” excitedly.

Some nights it is not so cute. A few days ago, he woke up screaming and crying and I could not comfort him. For a full minute he screamed, unable to tell me what he had been dreaming about.

I didn’t expect to have to deal with this so soon. It hadn’t even crossed my mind. Sometimes, as a parent, there are just too many things that can go wrong.

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