I'm still alive...

The last 10 days are kind of a blur: having had to work during the few "off" moments of the day, that doesn't leave much time for blogging! Especially when the little one can't resist coming over and touching the keys as soon a she sees the laptop open, having desperate and angry fits if I take it away from her...

She's napping now (YAY!), and I'm happy to report that we have a new record: 4 good nights in a row! Oh, a few wakings here and there, a few typical crisis at naptime or bedtime, but no 2-hour rave in the middle of the night. Bye-bye guest bed by her room, helloooo bedroom monitor! And after 4 months, helloooo sleeping in the same bed as my husband again! :o)

What did we do to get there? Not so much, really. Or maybe enough, I don't know. The one big change has been the lullabies softly playing non-stop in her room during sleep, a real effort at trying to keep a nap and sleep schedule, and lots and lots of floor time with her during the day (hence no blogging...).

I can now see myself soon finally able to think and talk about something else than sleep! It had gotten so bad for me, I was anxious right from the morning when I knew it was my turn to do the night. Anxious and inadequate and tired and depressed... and boring. After a particularly bad night last week, when I ended crying more than Yummy, S took over the night watch and gave me several nights of rest in a row. Oh, the healing power of sleep! And the healing power of a great husband... I seriously don't know how single women do it. And I can't believe I was naive enough to briefly consider doing this on my own some time before I met S!

We know we're not our of the woods yet, but hope is back in our lives! I can very well live with 1-2 short wakings a night.

Oh, and somebody has been having too much fun in the staircase, and earned herself a nice fence this week. She's obviously not too thrilled about the prize... ;o)



Up until tonight, I had never quite realized what a joy it is to talk with adults! After the week we've just had, and the last 3 months of my world revolving around the most amazing little girl, it was like a breath of fresh air to go out tonight, and have dinner with some good friends! S understood how much I needed the change of scenery, how much I craved that kind of conversation, and he took care of Yummy during the whole dinner. I was free to talk, laugh, and drink, knowing The Best Husband was taking care of me by taking care of our daughter. And would drive both of us home safely.

I'm going to sleep tonight a happy, thankful (and slightly drunk) woman.


Yanked off my island...

I've left my little denial island. It seems like the real freak accidents were the 2 full nights last week...

Yummy has been up from about 1 to 4 AM every single night this week. Oh, we can get her back to sleep, but as soon as we leave the room, bang! She's wide awake and screaming. Even if she has been sleeping for over 30 minutes: S tried last night. She has to feel a hand, or a very close proximity. And she basically refuses to nap unless she's about to collapse from exhaustion. Yesterday, at 1PM, she had only slept 3 hours since 1 AM the night before, and I finally got her to nap for a bit over an hour. Needless to say, we are dealing with a needy, clingy, cranky baby these days...

For three nights, we tried letting her cry, going in every 5-10 minutes (yeah, I know, weren't supposed to because she's adopted and all. But she had been crying without any tears whatsoever, the kind of cry that's hard to take too seriously). She never fell asleep in less than 1h30 during that "experiment". So two nights ago, we decided to go back to the "no cry" way, with the result that she's up for 3 hours instead. And the added bonus that she totally freaked out when S put her in the crib last night, and took 45 minutes to calm down. Some will say it serves us right...

After looking at our (limited) options, we decided to give co-sleeping a try last night, in the guest bed right outside her room: not good! S was doing the night shift, and he said that she got all excited and thought it was play time, as when we stay in her room during those hours, she'll simply let herself be picked up and rocked, and stays quiet in our arms, looking at us.

I did the count, we spend 5-6 hours a day trying to get her to sleep 8-9 hours a day... not good... We don't know what to do or how to do things better. When not in my arms, she's within 5 feet of me ALL DAY LONG! I can't leave the room without her crying anymore, unless she's with dad, when I used to be able to leave for a minute or two and she would be fine. If we leave the house, it's only for an hour or two in the afternoon, in the baby backpack or in the stroller facing me.

This is starting to take a big toll on everything, as we don't see the end of it, or even a glimmer of hope. There have been lots of tears, and not just baby ones. Let's just say that we couldn't quite be the poster parents for adoption these days...

BUT! We are not giving up! Oh no baby! There is now a mattress on the floor in her room, some lullaby music on repeat on the iPod, sent by a lovely member of my support crew, and a little glimmer of hope after two naps without fuss today!


Last year, in April, I went to Paris alone for a week, to visit, walk, rest, and hang out in cool cafes. I had found a fantastic little hotel, two-star-that-maybe-could-be-three, right in the middle of everything. Sunny skies and temperature in the upper 70's all week. It was one of my best vacation ever, and definitely the best alone! Let's just say I've been longing to be back really, really badly lately...

The view from my room

The view, but sadly, not from my room...


Back to square 1 (AM...)

So, it must have been a freak accident that she was up from 1h45 to 3h30 last night, right?*** That every time I thought I had gotten her back to sleep, she heard my head turn longingly towards the door (I swear!) and promptly woke up with a jolt and a scream?

I suspect that biological clock thing also has to do with the fact that it's much easier to skip a night's sleep early on in your life than in your 40's...

That whole sleeping thing has me more and more puzzled as time goes by. It seems like she NEEDS to cry to finally be able to fall asleep. For example, she was obviously tired this afternoon at nap time. I rocked her for over a half hour: she was NOT closing her eyes, even if she was quiet. I put her in the crib (oh, the insult!), left the room for a few minutes, came back and picked her up: she immediately stopped howling, settled in my arms and fell asleep in about 2 minutes. As if she understood I meant business... And if by exception she goes to sleep without a peep at night, she'll tend to wake up more often during the night.

For those of you who offered to exchange e-mail and ideas, I'll do it soon, I promise!

Daddy is on duty tonight. I'll be unconscious in about 25 minutes.

Being so cute is an essential survival skill at 2AM...
(The funny part is that the pigtails stayed up even after I took off the little clips! :o)

*** I'm quite happy in my little denial island here.
Please don't take me away from it.
Thank you.



I had to tell the world and my 7 readers: I didn't get up once last night!!!

Yummy woke up twice crying, and fell back asleep before I woke up enough to get out of bed. I've never been so thrilled to crash back into my pillow... :o)


Just a little smoke

So, I'm still fuming over that phone call from last week... Oh, it's just a little smoke now, but I still think that the way that person interacted with me doesn't deserve the word "professional". She might be one of the most knowledgeable people in adoption, but the way she talked and related to me was a (huge) bit too self-righteous for my taste . When you call someone because you're in need of help, you're exhausted and you're crying most nights, them blaming you for just about eveything you did or didn't do, without any kind of acceptable assessment, will NOT promote a good relationship, no matter how good the resource is. Knowledge without communication skills, and that includes real listening, is absolutely useless. It's not the client's responsibility to make sense of the blame. The social worker's Code of ethics is quite clear on that matter:
A social worker must do everything in his power to establish a relationship of trust between himself and his client. To this end, the social worker must, in particular a) refrain from practising his profession in an impersonal manner, b) respect, in all his interventions, the values and convictions of his client.

A social worker must not make an assessment of his client's situation and must not perform any acts involving him unless he has sufficient data to judge the situation clearly and to act with a minimum of efficiency in the interest of his client.

The only good thing that phone all did was to encourage us to be even more watchful of the effets of what we do or don't do with Yummy. Ove the last week, we've only had 2 nights with long wakings, and curiously, they both happened after days when Yummy didn't leave the hous. The other nights were more "normal", with 2-4 short wakings. The problem really seem to be that she is now so used to falling asleep with one of us touching her that she can't do it on her own on a regular basis. And last night, she was up for an hour and a half, wide awake. If Dad left the room, she would get up, scream and cry, but there was no tears, no sweating, and no distress whenever he came back in the room, as she would then stop. Now THAT looks more to me like a little manipulation than a reaction to a trauma!

So our baby turned 13 months yesterday. It's just amazing how far she has come since we first met her last October!

She is now crawling all over and taking a few wobbly steps on her own. Books are still her favorite toys, she now "reads" them with the right side up, and is pointing and "naming" images more and more. She's even doing the sounds of some animals she recognizes! She's using 5-6 signs, and saying 5-6 words, and babbling a whole lot of other ones we don't understand.

But most amazingly, she just started to really cuddle up to me. She was doing it before, but only for a few seconds at a time, mostly her own terms. And I recently noticed that she almost always used her arm to keep a distance whenever I picked her up facing me, even when she had just hurt herself, or was calling for me. So, we've been working on that, dancing to music around the living room, which she adores, and "accidentaly" pulling her close to me. And yesterday, she looked like she suddenly allowed herself to actually enjoy cuddling up to me, getting close and resting her head on my shoulder for much longer periods of time, patting my arm. That was worth many, many sleepless nights...


Well, THAT felt good...


This morning, I finally spoke to the person who was supposed to be our big help with the sleep issues. Now, I feel like everything we've been doing has been wrong.

The conversation went a bit like this:

Me: So, we've been having sleep problems with Yummy, and they seem to have gotten worse in the last month (then explaining the problems).
Her: Well, it's obvious she's having anxiety issues. Do you know if she was in the orphanage or with a foster family?
Me: No, despite a few attemps, we were never able to find out in China and her paperwork wasn't clear on that.
Her: Oh... (The kind of "oh" strategically followed by a silence that very clearly tells you you haven't tried enough...)

And then:

Her: Well, you need to create a routine, make her world almost boring, very predictable, stop going out with her, so that she comes to rely entirely on you for everything. Don't let her hold her bottle (she never has), make sure to feed her yourself (feeding a one year old when she wants to feed herself? Can you say "war"??? which is the very last thing that should happen with feeding...), make her become completely dependant on you. You have to create a symbiotic relationship.

(Those weren't her exact words, but it was close. And with more sentences.)

She then proceeded to tell me that:
  • We shouldn't really leave the house if possible (before asking me to go meet her with Yummy in a few weeks...).
  • A family she knows did the cocooning thing for 8 months before sleep was settled. And then started going out to dinner with their child, who totally freaked out, meaning it obviously wasn't long enough (huh??? couldn't it be that by then, she was terrorized of change and strangers?).
  • Since Yummy now takes 2 naps a day, one of them way too late in her opinion, we should cut it down to one, in the hope that tiredness would make her sleep better at night (OK, I'm buying the anxiety thing no problem, it even makes sense. I'm good. Won't let her cry anymore. But we are going to solve the sleep issues by making her tired??? Her answer was that we are in a trial and error period...).
  • When I told her how well her development is going, considering everything, she said great, but that we should absolutely not stimulate her to learn, as she has to regress first. I was basically told that she's doing too much in the development area. And I have the feeling that if there would have been a delay, I would have been refered to professional developmental help...
  • The one that puzzled me most: I talked about the fact that co-sleeping wasn't really an option, as Yummy tends to get worked up, and play with me, or the bed sheets, instead of fall asleep. Her answer? Well, it's obvious she is not ready for co-sleeping: the proximity makes her anxious. (It that why she's coming to us more and more for hugs during the daytime? Is that why being picked up is still one of her favorite things and way to travel (that we are quite happy to indulge)?...)
As a health care professional myself, I hope I never made any mom feel like that, as I was always trying to make them feel good about their child, looking for the positive. But I'm sure that at some point, without realizing it, I did make some feel like crappy moms. And I so wish I could apologize to all of them.

I have to give it to her, the poor lady was quite patient though, as I'm sure I've been put into the "annoying mom" category that health care workers tend to create. The moms who ask a lot of questions, and will pick up on the contradictions. The moms who don't agree with everything. I stayed patient, and polite, but if someone tell me I'm doing something wrong, I expect them to tell me how to make it right, not say "let's try different things and see" or support their argument by giving me "convincing" examples of horror stories from other families who might have had an entirely different situation.

A big question stays unanswered, and if anyone has an idea, please let me know. Why is it that for a bio kid showing all the same problems (I think 90% of our friends with kids told us they had gone through the exact same phases), it's a normal behavior, and for an adopted kid, it's interpreted entirely differently? I'm not saying I don't believe there's been a trauma, because there has certainly been more than one, which I unfortunately will never fully know or understand. And for whatever reason, that phone call really helped me believe that we can't let her cry yet. But are we "over-diagnosing" our adopted children? Is it really the right thing to keep my baby from learning, from being proud of herself, from showing her to communicate and lower her frustration in the hope that she'll bond quicker with us? I'm really not sure...

I still have 9 months off, and a new goal: research the research on all this! I really, really want to know, and do what's best for my baby. And if that means challenging what people say, so be it. Hey, the psychologist who did our homestudy basically had 2 advices: to take and hold her together when we first met her (yeah, right... when everything happens so fast!) and to remind her that she's chinese while we rock her, saying "my beautiful chinese baby"... Not a word on sleep problems. Or any other problem for that matter. Needless to say, we're thinking of asking for another one for the 6-month evaluation.

Back to my topic... Fortunately, I still have access to a medical library, and all the resources that come with it. I'll see what I can find, and I'll keep you posted...

In the meantime, I'll listen very carefully to what anyone with any knowledge and experience has to tell me. And try not to let them make me feel like a crappy mom. And then, I'll do what I think is best for my child, for her to grow into a happy, strong, skilled, confident woman.


Mea Culpa

I finished this post while Yummy happily ate her green beans ON HER OWN besides me. Bad mommy. But I redeemed myself by feeding her some food MYSELF from my plate. Do I break even?...