Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sleep and Adoption

I've spent over an hour trying to put Ellie to sleep -- again. Kevin had her asleep once already, but we knew it wouldn't last more than 30-45 minutes the first time. Kevin is now on hour two of trying to get her to sleep. This is a regular occurrence and while we continue to tell our pediatrician, it seems to not be as big a deal to him as it is to us. Tonight, I decided we would try co-sleeping with her. We did it with Josh, but were convinced we weren't going to do this again. After a few months of no sleep, you'll try anything. And, not only that, I truly want Ellie to get good sleep as well. I don't think she is. She sleeps great during the day, both in her crib and in the car seat. She just has such a hard time at night. I've spent a lot of time online reading about sleep and adoption and have concluded that I'm just up against a wall that I don't know how to knock down -- for me or for Ellie. There are so many theories on what's right, but most experts will even agree that you have to find what works for you and then just stick to it. That's the problem: we can't find anything that works.

We've tried: lights on, lights off, night light; music, white noise, singing, quiet, fans; bed propped up, lots of blankets and different kinds, sleeping with lots of clothing on and little clothing on; we try baths every night before bed along with a massage; we try reading and no reading; we try rocking, walking, bouncing, laying in the crib, sitting in the room, leaving the room; eating before, bottles before, filling her up. Tonight during our attempt at co-sleeping, she flipped, flopped, got up, crawled off, kicked, slapped, pulled hair, cried, pulled the blanket and generally just could not be still enough to rest. I'm just at a loss.

The experts do make sense when they note that all the anxieties surrounding their early years from the orphanage and their fears of night and being alone typically all surface at night. But, what do I do to help with that. Yes, I know patience and time. But, in the mean time, we continue to start trying to get her to sleep at 7:00 and finally get her down sometimes as late as 11:00. Then she will want a bottle sometime in the night and will wake up crying/screaming sometimes as many as four times a night. Then, she's up, for good, usually by 5:30 in the morning. She cannot be getting enough sleep. I'm not -- but it shouldn't be about me. But ultimately, the better/more sleep I'm able to get, the better I'm able to parent and function.

I continue to read and am thinking of calling our homestudy agency (local) and talking to the attachment specialist there to see if she can provide some practical tips. And, of course, I'm WIDE OPEN for tips from other adoptive parents who've experienced this and have things that worked for them.


Betsy said...

Oh Maria, I'm sorry to hear you guys are having such a hard time. You must be exhausted and that sure does make it hard to be the best parent you can. I am definitely not a 'been there done that' adoption friend... but I do think you are wise to talk to someone who knows more about attachment than your pediatrician might. I'll be sending many prayers your way!

Hilary Marquis said...

Have you tried using a "lovey"? Small blanket that you carry around in your shirt, or sleep with yourself for a couple days and then leave with Ellie at night so she can smell mommy? It was helpful with Toby and Mia...they also had a specific CD that they rocked to every night and then I left it on repeat until they were OUT. I don't know why, but James Taylor's greatest hits worked wonders for my kids! I had friends that tried it when they saw how it instantly calmed them down, and it worked on their kids too :) Hang in there!

Julie W said...

Have you tried having her sleep in the swing? Or a bouncy seat in the crib?

Julie W said...

Also, what if you did not try to start getting her down at 7? What if you did your normal stuff and not even attempt until much later, like 10? I found when I started too early, I wasted too much time and got way overly frustrated. Then when I didn't even try bedtime til later, it worked out so much better.

Elizabeth and Bill said...

No advice from me unfortunately. I would have long ago turned to drugs for myself, and my kid, if I was as sleep deprived as you! Hope you get some sleep soon! - elizabeth

Lindsey Carney said...

Hey Maria, we've had a few rough nights but nothing like you are experiencing. I do know the frustration you are feeling, it's just in a different area, eating! Hudson has texture issues and it's so frustrating because I want him to eat and realize he can try foods that he can't just swallow. So since we're both having a big frustrating adoption problem I'm going to pray for you every time I get frustrated with Hudson's texture issue. So just know you're going to really be prayed for!

Also, we went to the Vanderbilt International Adoption Clinic and LOVED it. They were very helpful and informative. They only see internationally adopted children so I'm sure they have dealth with many children who have sleep problems. E-mail me if you want me to get their info. for you.