Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Another commonly asked question of the newly home adoptive parent is, "Is she sleeping?"  I thought I'd write a post to let you know about how that is going for us.

When God blessed me with the gift of motherhood, nothing prepared me for the sleep deprivation aspect of it.  I struggled.  I mean struggled, tears and the whole bit.  With Jacob it wasn't as bad because he was our first and our only child, so I managed.  I had down time as he napped and our family was still small with just three of us, so managing the home wasn't quite as challenging either.  When the twins came along, it was a different story.  I struggled (no battled) the sleep deprivation portion of mothering them.  Two babies up in the night took twice as long to feed and on top of that I have this horrible disease.  It is called "I-can't-go-back-to-sleep-itis."  It is a terrible, horrible disease that should never ever plague a new mom who is up frequently in the night.  I have it.  Bad.  If I wake up in the night and do anything--talk, move around, sit up, etc. I am done.  My body thinks it is time to wake up and it will literally take me hours to go back to sleep.  Hours, people.  I'm not talking a long twenty minutes.  I'm talking hours.  Truly, hours.  Look at the clock and fight to go to sleep, knowing each minute awake is a minute lost before the twins would wake up for the next feeding.  You can ask Chris about this season in my life.  It was hard. He will tell you that once they started sleeping through the night (thus I started sleeping again), it was like a light switch went off and just like that, he had his normal, sane wife back.  Sleep is a glorious thing.  I need it.  Lots of it.

Going into this adoption we knew that sleep was definitely on the list of "potential hurdles" to be overcome.  I did not look forward to it, but as with the other kids, I knew I could battle through it.  Then we got Hannah.

God knows me so well.  He created me and wove me together.  He knows just what I can handle and what I cannot.  He knew I could not face the day time issues with Hannah if I was not sleeping.  Just like when you give birth, you have no idea what you might get.  Our kids, once sleeping through the night, are great sleepers and have been since they got through those initial couple months of infancy.  You never know what you're going to get.  I also knew, going into this adoption, that my past methods of Baby Wise and cry it out were going to be lost on Hannah and completely not appropriate.  She would need me to respond immediately, every time, to  build bonds and trust.

So, to answer the question.  Does she sleep?  Yes.  And no.  It is not nearly the sleep disturbance I had with an infant and it doesn't happen every night.  I find that hard days often correspond with hard nights, with more night time waking.  At the most she has been up three or four times in the night, but is almost always easily comforted.  Currently she still sleeps in our room, where she can see me.  This is convenient for me when she does wake.  She is just a few steps from the bed and prevents me from getting too fully awake with walking to her bedroom.  Sometimes she just needs  a shush and pat with adjusting blankets.  Other times she needs holding and snuggling.  Always she will fall back asleep in my arms and I have always been able to transfer her back to her bed.  She needs the night time routine to settle in and I definitely have to rock and bounce her to just about complete sleep prior to nap and bed, but she usually drifts off quickly.  I am thankful she enjoys the closeness of rocking and holding, as this is a great way for the two of us to bond.  Sometimes her sleep is fitful.  She has night terrors (only during nap time so far).  She will scream and not be able to be consoled.  She also has vivid dreams (or nightmares) that will cause her to have tantrums, hit, and cuss in her sleep.  Again, I notice these behaviors increase based on how her day went.  Fitful days lead to fitful nights.  Her night time waking was a non-issue until just recently, where she is now waking usually at least two times per night, almost daily now.  So far I have been thankfully able to go back to sleep quickly (I attribute this to having her in our room and not having to travel as far, thus not getting so fully awake I cannot go back to sleep--plus I don't have to be alert enough to make a bottle, change a diaper, etc.). 

Will we transition her to her own bed in her room with Grace?  Yes.  When?  I don't know.  As long as she is waking in the night, to be honest, it will just be simpler to keep her in our room.  She finds a great deal of security in her ability to look over from her bed and see us right there, near her and ready to console her if she needs it.

Will we use the cry-it-out method on her?  No, not right now.  Crying it out works on a child who is securely bonded and attached to a caregiver.  Hannah is not completely trusting of us yet and we need to respond to her needs as though she is a newborn infant right now, in order to ensure she understands we will always be there for her.  It is easy to get frustrated with this sometimes (she's two after all, my mind screams!).  The best thing to do is remind myself that while the calendar does indicate she is a two year old, we basically brought home a brand new infant (her needs and demands are like that of an infant right now) trapped inside the body of a two year old.  As her trust grows, restful sleep should in turn follow.

So, for now, sleep for me is decent.  Interrupted some, but still good enough that I don't feel the grip of deprivation setting in.  She has a rough night followed by some good ones, which gives me the chance to get a full night without interruption.  Overall the disturbance has seemed minor.

So, are we sleeping?  Yes.  And no.  There is pain and sorrow in the night for her at times, but in the morning, the joy returns.

"Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning."
Psalm 30:5

 Cleft babies suck their thumbs too!  She sucks both the thumb and index finger of her right hand.  This will be a major source of prayer once we schedule her repair.  Sucking brings comfort, which in turn, brings sleep.  Once the repair is complete, she will not be permitted to put anything in her mouth for a period of time.

   Sleep routine must stay the same.  Sleep sack on, DeeDee (special blanket made by Great Grandmama) over the sleep sack, lovie in crook of left arm and stroked by left hand, right hand sucking, bounce and rock from mama and off to sleep she goes.

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