With dry diapers. What? In our world, this is God showing up big time. This is big and beautiful and evidence of His grace. This is an answered prayer. This is a boy getting a very big boost in his confidence and this is 2 parents looking a little less zombie-like. Five mornings of turning up "Say Hey" while we brush our teeth and dance around with praise.
I blog about our lack of sleep a lot. I consider myself to be somewhat of an expert at sleep depravity. After all, most babies prefer sometime after 3 AM but before AM to be born. Between living with my entourage and catching babies, it's a topic I don't escape often. This weekend, I was reminiscing (not fondly) with family about the days that Blake didn't sleep. For years, he could function pleasantly on only 4 or 5 hours a night! He was like the energizer bunny. Ryan once set him in front of Sports Center, as a 2 year old, at 11 PM. He called it an "experiment," and at 4 AM, Ryan returned to Blake, tiny toddler with his eyes still glued to Sports Center (which just repeats itself every half hour all night). I laugh to think it was like God was warming us up for our sleep deprivation in years to come.
Etienne and Ezekiel came from the Home of Hope, in Kigali, Rwanda. At the time of their adoption, there were just under 150 children in the orphanage and each our sons was in a room lined with rows and rows of tiny cribs. Lying in one, a child was surrounded on 3 sides by other children. They spent many, many hours in those cribs irregardless to whether they were tired or not.
We took them home and our first mistake was forgetting those rows of "friends." We tried to have Etienne share a room with Blake and we set a crib in our room, near our bed for Zeke. Weeks and weeks went by with neither little man or parent sleeping. As soon as we put ourselves in their shoes, we remembered that a bed or a big spacious crib would be lonely. So our "3 year old" and our 18 month old shared a crib next to our bed, each swaddled with their feet touching end-to-end. And it worked. For a bit.
Zeke now sleeps fabulous. We are still fumbling our way through new theories and tactics with Etienne. One thing that we have always noticed with him is that he moves a lot in his sleep, he often sleeps with his hands clenched in fists and his large muscles contracted. What's heartbreaking about this is that a lot of people-parents and professionals alike-see these same traits. It is thought that children from an institutional background often don't learn self regulation, do not regularly get their needs met and are often in an over stimulated state of alert (think "I don't know if that noise is bad so I am gonna sit up here, ready to scream and run if I need to,"). It's awful what the world does to it's children. Along with this, he wakes up a lot and then has difficulty falling back asleep. Not fair, right? Poor buddy.
Here are some good resources for sleep issues:
- The Center for Adoptive Medicine- http://adoptmed.org/topics/sleep-and-adoption.html
- "The Connected Child," Karyn Purvis
The good news is that God has got this. As with most parenting, whether a "home grown" kid or not, a lot of what we do is trial and error. I am thankful that E almost daily reminds me that His grace is sufficient because I am not. Ultimately, our rest comes from God and not from sleep. Even though sleep feels amazing.
So many kiddos have sleep struggles along the way. "Crying it out" isn't encouraged with children that our newly adopted, but I know some parents have had success with that. Ryan and I totally jumped on the "Ferber" method train with Molly (mostly because she refused to snuggle and she was so loud when she slept!) while with Blake we honestly found that he liked a dresser drawer. Desperate times, people, don't judge.
Does "crying it out" seem harsh? Can your child sleep better with you or without you? What about co-sleeping (and how do you ever have another child?!). I would love to hear how many parents have their adopted children in the room with them...or with another sibling.