You'll often hear expecting couples joking that once their child is born they'll never get a good night's rest again. It's true that some babies have a hard time adjusting to sleeping routines, waking up exhausted parents continuously through the night. But what would you do if your baby literally never slept more than two hours each night?
When sweet baby Ever was born, everything seemed fine at first. But then Ever began to suffer from gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), which happens when the stomach acids rise to the throat and make eating difficult.
Her parents, Robin Audette and Kirk Hisko, thought this was the reason why their little girl slept so little at night. However, when the medication began to take effect and baby Ever still did not sleep all night, they began to fear that something more serious was going on.
Even though Ever barely slept, she was an energetic and happy child. But her parents couldn't brush away their concern when they noticed there were nights when their baby slept only an hour. Her worried parents were also concerned because their baby was missing milestones. They wondered if it was caused by her GERD or "if something else was going on", Audette said in a video interview.
The two brought their daughter from specialist to specialist before finally getting a proper diagnosis.
By the time Ever's parents had an accurate diagnosis of her illness, she was already 2 years old. The medical condition that Ever suffers is called Angelman Syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic disorder that occurs in one in 12,000 to 20,000 live births. Characteristics of the disorder include developmental delay, lack of speech, sleep disorders, seizures, as well as walking and balance disorders.
Audette and Hisko were happy to finally get the whole truth about Ever, but they still find it very challenging to care for a daughter with such an irregular sleep schedule. They take turns staying up with her in shifts throughout the night.
"If we can get anywhere from four to six hours out of her in a night, we feel like we've done good," the parents said.
Even though both parents can get pretty sleepy during the day, Audette and Hisko assert that they feel happy to have their happy daughter in their lives.
Like Ever's parents, you can help diagnose your child if you feel something is wrong. Noticing certain symptoms may hint at this genetic disorder:
Developmental delays, including no crawling or babbling at 6 to 12 months
No speech or minimal speech
Difficulty walking, moving or balancing well
Frequent smiling and laughter
Happy, excitable personality
Irregular sleeping patterns
There is no cure for Angelman syndrome, but there are certain treatments to alleviate the disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The next time you wake up at night because your baby is crying, think of parents whose children only sleep an hour at a time. Are you grateful your child sleeps more than a few hours?