10 June 2011

Friday, June 10, 2011 - 6 comments

Finding peace with sleep

I've not hidden the fact that we have had a very difficult time with sleep since our cricket was placed into our arms.  I've talked about it here, here, here and everywhere else!....yea I've talked about it a lot.  And those posts don't even count the number of times I've had conversations about sleep with people in our everyday lives.

We've gone from sleeping (well not really sleeping) in the most beautiful crib I ever did own...

One of the few pics (pre China) I have of the bed and not one with my girl in it.  She hated that crib.  :(
To sleeping in the famous pipe bed.

To sleeping on a twin mattress on the floor.

To sleeping on the crib mattress on the floor with mommy and daddy on the twin on the floor.

And with each nightly wake up, mommy or daddy would come in and rock, sing, cajole, lay with, stand and sleep, rest our head on her mattress, or sleep on the floor until our girl was snoring again then we'd sneak out and crawl back into our pillow-top heaven of a bed.  And then repeat the above actions every 45 to 90 minutes ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  Exhausting!

Our girl also sleeps as light as a feather.  Any and I mean ANY sound will wake her!  We walk on eggshells around the house after she's gone to bed at night.  I've only the video above of her sleeping and no pictures because every time I've tried she wakes instantly!  I used to love to go in and watch Big J sleeping when he was a baby.  I can't do that with my girl and believe me I've tried!  And if she wakes...she's up!

We started a sleeping arrangement last December (after six very long and traumatizing weeks the Ferber Method) where mommy or daddy started sleeping with our cricket in her room, and you know what??  We slept.  Like sleeping most nights through.  It's not the best plan for a married couple but we found ourselves rested in the morning for the first time in since January 2010.  We thought we'd try it for a few months to help her understand that sleep was a good thing.  Show her how we sleep.  Teach her that she is safe and nothing changes in the night and morning always comes with mommy and daddy near.

When the new sleeping set up started, for the first time we could see exactly what was happening when our girl woke up.  Seeing it is heartbreaking.  She would wake up wide eyed and scared outta her mind!  Most nights she'd wake up jumping up out of her bed and will refuse to go back in it.  She will also try to get "things" off of her.  She points to her bed looking for something.  She did not want anyone or anything to touch her.  Sometimes she will walk to the other side of the room and sit there and cry.  Again she is wide awake and did not seem like a night terror which she has also had as well.  She would do this every 45 to 90 minutes.  Slowly, with our co-sleeping arrangement she stopped that behavior although several nights a week she would wind up in bed with whom ever was sleeping in there.   While sleeping with her,  I could hear her stirring and I put my hand on her and talk to her and tell her she's okay and where she's at and that mommy is here with her and reassure her she was safe and it calmed her.  Being able to watch her sleep patterns from start to finish was a first and so incredible to watch.  We'd always catch the panicked screaming end to her episodes and she would fight tooth and nail to go back down or let us leave the room.

Then about a week into our new arrangement I read this.  I'll let you go read it, absorb it and take a breath, and wipe a tear.....

Our daughters are from the same SWI and both were in foster care.  While our cricket was not in the same foster home, you can only assume that foster homes have similar scenarios in the foster villages.  Reading this was like light pouring in for us.  I was also told that it is quite possible that small animals, bugs and other things could very well have been a part of that space our daughter lived in.  All of her behavior started to make more and more sense.   Her fear of the dark.  Her fear of being left alone.  Her fear when someone walks out of her room (she panics horribly!).  Her fear of things on her or in her bed, (she HATES having bugs anywhere near her when she is awake too...HATES!).  Her resolve to stay awake no matter what.  Her absolute terror of her crib when we came home or anything that is too confining that she can't get out of.   It all began to make sense and now we could focus on healing that part of our daughter's past.  Taking it away from her and showing her it's okay to love sleep.

Today I sit and write this and listen to the monitor across the room of a little girl who once slept for 45 minutes at a time but is now going on hour two of her nap.  Alone.  Mommy and daddy are now back in the comfort of the big pillow top heaven of a bed.  She has been sleeping on her own in her room for a little over a month now with little fear.  She also has "free reign" to come into our room in the night for comfort.  She does use that need most nights BUT she goes back to her room easily and willingly goes back to sleep as long as we stay with her until she falls back to sleep which can take up to an hour.  BUT...Gone are the panic attacks.  Gone is a large part of the fear.  No longer are there periods of terror in her bed.  If she goes all night without waking, it's a beautiful, beautiful thing!  We celebrate those nights!  :)
Hard to capture a jumping for joy little girl in a snapshot!  
A few weekends ago we put together her "big girl bed" and filled it with all of her dolls and stuffed animals.  We pulled out her 100 Wishes Quilt and together put it at the foot of her bed along with her favorite pillow.  We laid in her bed after and shared a few minutes of laughter at the fact that she was looking forward to going to sleep that night...."night, night mommy", she kept saying.  And yes she slept the night through until 5:30am and for her that's good.  We'll take it!  Since then it's been an off again on again struggle to stay asleep but still so much better than the early days.  This will not be something that goes away easily.  Our crickets sleep issues go back to her early days and I'm certain it will be years before the old is erased and the new is comforting.  For now she loves her bed.  She actually LURVES it!

As for the mommy and daddy.  It's been a trying time for us to be perfectly honest.  Sleeping in separate beds let alone separate rooms is no way to keep a marriage strong and healthy.  Just having that comfort of knowing your spouse is right there next to you is nothing to take for granted.  And yes, while the reason for our separation was for good and for the well being for our daughter and we are SO happy we did it, it was stressful but so worth the steps forward we've all made!  The joy in our daughters face is worth every minute of sleep we've lost.


I feel your pain. Linhsey has horrible night time issues and is in our bed every single night....crying, kicking, scratching, talking, you name it... We are going on 4 years now. I wish I could heal the pain from those early days.

I'm commenting again. I read the other post by the other mom and I can't get it out of my head now. I saw some messed up things at Linhsey's orphanage too. I know her issues are linked to this. This is all just so sad, and it's almost 4 years later and I don't know how to help her. My heart aches for her, your daughter, and all of the others. Just wanted you to know I'm still thinking of you : )

I couldn't even read that entire post you linked to. I was sickened and moved to tears. I wish there were a way to rescue those children. They are being abused. Lord, have mercy.

Praise God that Jennifer has been rescued from that excuse for an existence! I know with your continued love and patience, she will continue to blossom and overcome her fears.

Bless you all.

Oh my Kayce..... I cannot get past the posts you linked too....cannot get the thought out of my mind. It rips my heart out of my chest to think of those babies in that room in the dark.

I know it has been a long road for you guys, but it seems as though you have made some great progress. She is so cute and has come so very far. What a sweetie. Give that beautiful girl a big old hug for me....and sending one to you too!!

Lots of Love,


I hope it continues to get better for you. Sounds like she has come a long way. Keep up the great work mama!

Wow. I linked to the other post. I don't even know what to say. I feel physically ill as I sit here watching my daughter playing and think about those little girls. Lots of tears.

From what you described, it does sound like Jenny came from a similar situation. Oh how that breaks my heart. I'm so glad to hear you're finding ways to make sleep easier for her ...and for you.

I've been very lucky with Mia and sleep so far. But we've had a few rougher nights. I watch her sleep every night on a video camera... and I agree... actually watching HOW they sleep is so educating.

Good luck and give sweet Jenny a hug from me and Mia.