November 13, 2008

National Adoption Awareness Month Part 6 (sleep issues)

My blogging support group knows that sleep has been a constant topic since we came home from China and I feel the need to put it out there AGAIN as I'm addressing adoption issues this month. Of all the things that I prepared for with this adoption, I never expected sleep to be such a huge problem. Prior to our adoption, we had close friends give us their crib and I was pleased to be able to pick out new crib bedding and get the special crib set up for our little girl. Honestly, the only night that Josie EVER slept in a crib was on her gotcha night March 16, 2008 in Nanchang, China. During the rest of our time in China, she slept with me in my bed and spent most of her nights thrashing and crying.

Picture taken in Nanchang, China. Notice Josie's blue skin color.

I assumed that her sleep issues in China would magically disappear once we came home. WRONG. She never EVER set foot in her crib. That beautiful lovely crib with the brand new bedding never ever got used. She screamed holy terror in her crib. I can't even describe the screaming that would go on in her crib. It was like nothing I had ever heard. It was horrifying. That crib was immediately dismantled and put in our basement. She took up immediate residence in my bed.

Prior to her heart surgery, she used to scream and thrash all night long. Chris used to refer to her as the clock. She would turn in my bed all night long like the hands of a clock. She literally slept for 20 minutes at a time and then would wake up screaming. I was exhausted, frustrated and unprepared for the sleep deprivation that came with our new daughter.

Josie slept with me from March until May because her night terrors were so bad. I kept praying that her heart surgery would fix the sleeping issues. It helped, but not like I had hoped for. Starting in June when I went back to work, we transitioned from my bed to a single mattress on the floor in her room. For nearly 3 months, Chris and I didn't sleep in the same room. We played musical beds between our master bedroom and and cosleeping with Josie on the mattress in her room.

It's now November and our bedtime routine still requires one of us (usually Chris) to lay down with her first, let her fall asleep, and then we sneak out when we think the coast is clear. It's not uncommon for Josie to be up at least 2, 3, 4 times a night crying. She still has night terrors but they aren't as bad as when were in China or before her heart surgery. Chris now holds the title of "baby whisperer" in our house. He can get her back to sleep during one of her episodes in 10-15 minutes. For me, it can take as long as an hour. I can't thank Chris enough for being such a hands-on Dad in the middle of the night. Both of us have never loved morning coffee as much as we do since Josie came into our lives.

I can't imagine what Josie's sleep issues must have looked like at the orphanage (probably lots of unanswered cries during the middle of the night). Having an untreated heart condition and laying flat must have felt pretty horrible. We love you, our sweet little girl. We just want you to sleep...yawn.

I'd love to know from my blogging friends, what are your experiences with your adopted child's sleep routines? Did you co-sleep? Did they experience night terrors? What techniques did you use to get them to stay sleeping?


Michelle said...

I'm glad that our daughter is not the only one that has a problem sleeping. She sleeps in a crib in her room she still wakes up at least four times every night sometimes more. It takes me picking her up and rocking her back to sleep. We have been home for almost three months and in China she slept for 12 hours straight every night. She even slept for 12 hours a night for the first week home. I just said to my husband tonight I wish for a full night of sleep. Also she will not let my husband rock or put her to bed. By the way I love your blog. Our daughter is also a heart baby.


Mike and Barb said...

Nina slept with us for about three months after we came home from China, and then another couple of months on a mattress in our room. This was really my choice, she may have been okay in her room with her sister, but I wanted that bonding time. After all, I had done it with my own babies as well (at least three of them), and I wanted her close. After 5 - 6 months, she transitioned well to her own bed, but still loves to come to bed with me (but then, they all do, even my big 11 year old, I think he would still sleep with us every night if we let him!)
Love, Barb

Kay Bratt said...

As usual, great post, Kim. I remember in China when Xiao Gou would stay over, she would totally freak out if I tried to sneak out of the room. She had to go to sleep holding my hand or touching me in some way. On the rare occasions I would be able to go to my own bed, she would wake up hysterical to find me gone. We eventually set up a queen-sized bed so I could just stay with her all night. I remember how exhausted I would be, but when little snips of irritation would slip in, I'd be disappointed in myself because I knew her life in the institution was so hard that night times were probably very traumatic.

Hugs to you and the baby whisperer...


Nikki said...

So sorry this is still going on, Kim.
As you know, Lili has never had any major sleep issues. She does freak out if we close her bedroom door all the way, but once she's asleep we close it and she doesn't even know it.
We never co-slept with Brett and are SO relieved we haven't had to do it with Lili. We've never been big proponents of it, but when faced with it, what can you do? We would've done it, we would've done ANYTHING to sleep!
She's never had any type of night terrors either.....
I feel for you guys. Sleep is a major, major deal for this mom and dad and if we didn't get it, we'd be intolerable. You guys seem to be taking it all in stride. God bless you :)

Robin Miller said...

Girl, I feel for you. As you know, Gracie did struggle with night terrors for the first 3 months, but then they just kind of went away. I don't know of anything we did to make them go away. Our doctor has suggested it was just that she got accustomed to all of the stimulus, and her brain was able to settle down for sleep. She usually wakes up once during the night, but goes back to sleep easily after I hold her for a few minutes. Gracie was in a foster home, so I think that helped a lot as well. She co-slept with another baby, and the crib was RIGHT beside (and I do mean right beside of it---an inch between if that) the foster parents' bed. So, those were issues for us, but now she does fine. Of course, a lot of prayer helped too. I would stand over her and pray that she would sleep through the night. One night it finally happened.....
Love and sweet dreams to you.