ever so slowly

Sleep.  Such a precious commodity.

I never realized how much I appreciated it until it became an uncertainty...

Our little man couldn't propel himself into my arms fast enough on the morning we met.  After meeting two of my other children at age two, I was prepared for him to be timid, scared, shy, crying, bawling even.  What I was not expecting was for this little toddler to wrap his chubby arms around my legs and refuse to let go until I picked him up.

It was love at first sight.

Or so it seemed.

But that first night was an entirely different story.  When it became apparent to him that we were more than "fun, field trip escorts," and that Mama Anna and Baba Joseph were nowhere to be found, his countenance totally changed.

This was when those tears I had anticipated began.  What I had not quite predicted would be just how long they would last and the intensity at which they would come.  Knowing that the next day's official adoption filing process would begin early and last for quite some time, we began the bedtime ritual around 8:45 pm.

Daniel though was having no part of that.  He was so distraught by my presence at bedtime that kicking, hitting and pushing away were his defenses, anything he could think of to get away from me.

Nearly three emotionally exhausting hours later ~ after trying everything we could think of ~ he finally wore out and collapsed in Ian's arms.

When it was clear he was sound asleep, we took a deep breath and thought it was over for the night.

We were wrong.  Two more times that night his mournful cries would rouse us from sleep.  The awakenings lasted somewhere between 1 1/2 to 2 hours each.  Both times he was calling over and over for Mama, but it was painfully obvious that I was not the Mama he sought.

Thankfully the next morning all seemed to be forgiven with the first streaks of sunlight and he was in love with me again.

This cycle of love by day/rejection by night would repeat itself for the remainder of the trip and well into the beginning of our time at home.

By the end of the first month, going to sleep at nap time and bed time started to get easier.  But the wee hour of the morning awakenings would continue.  (which I documented here)

Around that time we were at our pediatrician's office for Daniel's "catch up vaccinations."  (Turns out that he was up to date because he had been living at New Day, but we got the first dose of flu mist).  When the doctor asked how everything was going I broke down and asked for suggestions on sleep issues.

He asked where Daniel was sleeping and I truthfully answered that he was still in our room.  Then he asked if I comforted Daniel every time he stirred and again I truthfully answered that I did.  Next he said that since it had been a little over a month that it was time for us to move Daniel to his own room and to let him work it out himself through the night when he awakened.

I think my eyes must have been getting a little glossy at that moment, because he asked me if I thought that I could do that.

**time out**
What?  Take a child that had moved from birth family to orphanage to foster home critical care room to hospital room (he was at the hospital for a month surrounding his surgery) to foster home to a foster family's home to two different hotels to our house in a new country (with new language, faces, foods, and customs) and then move him across the house to an unfamiliar room and let him cry out through the night?

Um.  I think not.  While I wasn't positive exactly how to move toward peaceful sleep, I was pretty sure this was not that was going to move us in the right direction.  I wanted to build trust with my child, not make him feel isolated and afraid.
**time back in**

So I nodded my head and said that I thought I could, knowing full well that there was no way I would.

In our room he stayed.  Weeks went by with me comforting my little man each time he called out through the night.  Ever so slowly the level of intensity scaled back. While I initially had to cradle him in my arms and pace the upstairs of the house, gradually just my hand on his chest and then simply my voice could lull him back into sleep.  He started to trust that I'd be there when he called.

Then the frequency of his awakenings began to reduce.  Little by little he began to lower his guard and allow himself to relax and sleep more peacefully By the beginning of the year he indicated that he was ready to move to his room ~ with his big brother of course.

In the time that we've known Daniel, his sleep patterns have changed monumentally, but seemingly at a glacier's pace.  Tonight, exactly nine months since that first night, he still fought sleep, but instead of fear and grief, I saw a little boy holding out, afraid he'd miss out on some of the action in the house.  And I also strongly suspect that I'll be headed over to soothe him at least once.   After all, since January I've nearly worn grooves in the hallway between my room and his.  In his new territory he still seems to need to know that I'm near.

But that's okay.  At this point I head to his room with as much of a smile that I can muster at "o dark thirty."

Because now when he calls Mama through the night, I know it's me that he's looking for.


anything but LoKEY said...

Such a great post. So anxious to see what it will be like when we get Judah. What little battles we will face? What he will want and not want? How he will bond? Thank you for sharing. I find it good to help prepare me for what may come with a little boy versus a little girl. :)

Nancy said...

He's come so far, mama! What a precious little boy!

Kristen said...

So glad you followed your instincts! I love to read your posts on sleep; we've struggled for a long time with our girls. Just last week, our baby moved into her big girl room; she's been home 2.5 years! Maybe it could have been sooner, but I wasn't going to push it. Your Daniel is just beautiful, as well as your other kiddos. Keep blogging; it helps us not to feel alone in some of the tougher areas:)

Cindy M said...

And you are EXACTLY the mama God designed for his life! You are just an amazing mother and friend.

Isn't it funny, the advice we get from "professionals"? I remember when our pediatrician told me at our first visit that I needed to get Caroline off the bottle right away because she was 13 months old. And how she just nodded in agreement when I said that we indeed would NOT be weaning her from the bottle and that we would be using it to bond for the next year. Sometimes...okay, MANY times, a mom's instincts are so much better than an educated opinion, eh?

Heather said...

Great post. A much needed read for me. We've been praying together every night asking that Jakes nightmares would subside and I'm reminded that in his first 4 years he never slept alone. It's so hard to see him go through tough times with sleeping!

Amy Murphy said...

So glad you didn't listen to that doctor. Not sure he knew what he was talkin' about there!
We didn't co-sleep with Ewen. (I'm absolutely no good to anyone with out my sleep!) Jon got up with him when he did wake, which wasn't too often at first. About a year and a half after he came home, though, he started having terrible sleep issues. Just awful! So, Ewen started sleeping in our room on the floor. At least that way, we got some sleep! He did that for about 6 months, then finally was able to sleep through the night in his own room. Boy am I glad that stage of life is over! I wonder if it would have been different if we had done that from the beginning...
You are such an awesome mom! I'm so glad you're getting more sleep now. :)

Traci said...

He sure has come a long way hasn't he. If it makes you feel any better I still get up several times a week to comfort Maylin even after two years! :) Here's to cherishing these days and dreading the teenage days when they want nothing to do with us!

Lisa said...

What sweet assurance Daniel has, knowing that his forever Mama will always come when he calls. You're an inspirational mama, Kristi!

Glenda said...

He has come so far in so little time. It's always amazing to watch as they settle in to forever family life. You're a great mommy!

Sharon said...

It will be our fourth gotcha day Friday...Hudson STILL has sleep issues. He loves to go to school, asks to go to friends houses and in every other way is adjusted and trusting of us and our love for him..but nighttime....he tells us how he hates to be alone and the dark isn't a good place. He almost nightly climbs into our bed and has to have himself tangled up with me.....most nights I don't even wake anymore...
We know he shared a crib with our travel buddy Abby Grace until the day they met us and he is content to sleep with one of his sisters or brother but alone....still so hard. And I'm with you...if he still needs "time in" I'll give it. None of my other three needed this at night and I am beyond positive it has everything to do with long, alone, dark nights at an orphanage for 2 1/2 years where needs were not met....the only comfort coming ffom a little girl four months younger....and so we continue to pray for sweet sleep each night and one day we will get there :)

Our Journey to China said...

Oh, you know we know all about sleep as a commodity. God's grace is so good to see Daniel love and trust his mama with all his heart more and more each day.

Julie said...

Seeing your light at the end of your tunnel gives me hope for the light at the end of our tunnel! And we've only been home 3 months. I hope next month we can transition to her own bed, in our room. Baby steps, right? :)