It was a night just like any other. The baby went down without any fuss around 8:00. Then just a little after 9:00, I heard him crying. I went to his room and expected to see his little head pop up when I opened the door, but it didn't. He continued to cry. When I picked him up, his whole body went limp and his head bobbed backwards. I completely freaked out. I thought he was paralyzed. I was just about to take him to the emergency room when I realized his eyes were closed. He was asleep! He continued to cry, so I just hugged him close and shushed him until he settled down. The whole episode lasted about 5 minutes total, but by the time it was over I was completely drained. It was terrifying.
A few weeks later, it happened again. That time it was about 10 minutes before he settled back down. Then two weeks ago when we were on vacation, it happened once again. This time, however, his body wasn't limp. He was screaming and flailing and could not be soothed no matter how hard I tried. His eyes were wide open, but they were vacant, as if he was staring straight through me. The episode lasted about 45 minutes. Then as quickly as it had started, it stopped and he was fast asleep.
When he wakes up in the morning after one of these episodes, it's like it never happened. He's his usual happy self, smiley and alert. My first instinct was that he was having nightmares. Can a baby have nightmares? I've done some research about night terrors, but the symptoms don't fit exactly. Then I stumbled upon something called "partial awakenings." It usually happens about an hour after first falling asleep. Basically, the brain is fighting to be awake and also asleep at the same time. So it's kind of like being trapped in your own body. You're awake, but you can't move. Then as quickly as it begins, it ends.
Has anyone had similar experiences with their child? If you have, I feel for you. It's terrifying. What do you do when it happens? Have you found that there is any way to prevent it?