Every time I sit down to write, one of the kids (figuratively) explodes, I develop a horrible headache, or something. So I’ll take this brief moment and give a quick rundown.
~ The doctor was so kind, understanding and took his time to answer all of our questions.
~ He told us that we have been doing everything right and doing it well. That our decision to give her melatonin at bedtime and naptime (including the amounts) was perfectly fine.
~ Her fundamental sleep pattern is normal. She goes through all the stages of sleep. This was huge to me. Her ability to sleep is not broken!
~ She has a very low ferritin iron count. Ferritin is the stored iron in your body. Normal ranges from 10 to 300 and her count is at 12. Low stored iron can cause the body to spasmodically jerk during sleep. The sleep study noted that she constantly jerked herself awake all night.
~ Solution 1: Put her on a large daily does of iron to raise her ferritin count. Go back in 3 months, discuss how things are going, do another blood draw and go from there.
~ Solution 2 (if 1 doesn’t work): If raising her stored iron doesn’t work, it indicates her nervous system is extremely immature, so we just have to wait it out until maturity. It’s basically the same thing newborns and infants do — jerking themselves awake to help prevent SIDS. To allow everyone to sleep and get the Ella the rest she needs to allow her system to mature, we would give her a medication that would dull the nerve receptors in her body during sleep. She’d be on it for 3 months, then we’d wean her to see how sleep goes. If it doesn’t happen, she’d go back on it for another three months, etc.
I can’t even begin to express my thankfulness for answers and solutions. Solutions that involved a doctor who actually listened and didn’t just give just give us sleeping pills for our toddler or tell us that it was normal.