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?...


The new normal. Or is it?

Still slowly getting back into a rythm after the holidays...

Is it just me, or will caring for a baby, as cute as she can be, slowly lowers your IQ? I miss using my brain!!! After 3 months, it feels like the real adjustment to this new life as a stay-at-home mom is happening now. Right when Yummy decided that sleeping at night, especially between 2 and 5 AM is optional... Everything now revolves around her naps, and trying to maintain a schedule. Not easy. And cabin fever has set in.

Oh, we went away to Maine and New Hampshire last week-end, but since she was up from 2 AM to 6 AM the first night, and I ended up with about 2 hours of sleep, I couldn't enjoy my time away as much as I would have liked. I'm sooooo thankful we were with amazing, understanding friends... who had brought fantastic wine... S did the second night, as I passed out for 9 hours straight, amid the noise of the others staying up, without ever moving in my sleep. At least, the fever has somewhat gone down!

First time in ski boots! :o)))

Having fun during the prize draw during happy hour at the ski center
(picture taken by Daddy with his new toy... ;o)

So yeah... tired... brain dead... not feeling like writing... That's why I've been neglecting to come here lately: I feel like I have nothing to say. And yet, so much is happening, right in front of my eyes!

My baby, who couldn't sit on her own very well when we first met her 3 months ago, is now crawling all over, and walking holding on to furniture. She understands so much, and is starting to "talk" and say words, using 2 signs together ("more"+"eat"), pointing to body parts, doing animal sounds on demand, learning a new sign in a matter of minutes, learning to feed herself with a spoon. She loves books, and has started to turn them over when they are upside down, with specific sounds for specific images. She has started some pretend play, using all kinds of things as a telephone and babbling into it. And she has started to test limits, which is actually quite funny: if she does something and I say "no", shaking my head, she'll do it again, look at me, then shake her head. It's hard not to laugh!

I worked as an OT with developmentaly delayed kids for 18 years, and I find all of that to be quite fast. The charts we used might have been generous. Why am I so in awe? Isn't it just what normal kids do? Anyone?...

Oh, and the sweetest: she's coming to me more and more for a cuddle during the day, is laughing much more easily, and is showing more and more real attachment towards us.

So, she's doing unbelievably well. By daytime that is... Too bad the seleeping is getting worse with time, not better. I've tried co-sleeping again: that's now a definite no-no! She gets way too excited, scratches the sheets, kicks me... We've been told over and over again not to let her cry. Fine. But now, she can basically only fall asleep in our arms, or after we've patted her cute little butt for what seems like hours in her crib. She used to go right back to sleep when she woke up crying for her rag: for us, it was 10 seconds, in and out of her room, give it back to her, quickly go back to sleep, yay! Those were the good days, and we didn't know it. Even jetlag was easier! Now, getting out of her room when she seems to be sleeping is like crossing a minefield with giant shoes on. And one person who could help us is simply not returning my calls... So much for our great, free healthcare system. She won't even call to give me private resources I would be willing to pay for!

Interestingly, the only good nights we've had in the last month have been those rigth after a few nights away... Maybe we need a cottage...


What exactly do you mean, sleep?...

No way!

I'll just be cute instead...


Remember me?

So, I took a little holiday from blogging... Hello! I'm back! No excuses, just laziness. Or maybe exhaustion from lack of sleep. Or lack of mental exercise... Whatever.

We had a wonderful holiday, and it was great for Yummy and me to have Dad at home for two whole weeks! She looked like she was actually really enjoying having both of us with her. She did pretty good with all the changes in schedule that came with Christmas and New Year's, and we've discovered that as long as we are with her, she doesn't really get fussy even 2 hours past her bedtime. We went to Quebec City for 3 nights at Christmas, and that felt like a real vacation, even if she woke up a bit more often at night. We think it was partly due to the new environment, partly because she's a bit tight in her pack'n play. (Do they make these things in bigger sizes???) After that trip, we saw a glorious light of hope, and heard angels sing as she slept for 3 nights straight without really waking-up. Pure bliss!

And then it got bad. Really bad, even though I'm sure somehow it could be worse: waking-up every 30-60 minutes, and taking up to 3 hours to go back to sleep. Do the maths... Even taking her to bed with me didn't work, so that idea is now gone for good, at least at home. It's hard to figure out what she needs, as sometimes she'll fall asleep on her own, sometimes she needs one of us to touch and softly rock her in her crib, and sometimes she needs to be held. I've rocked her in the rocking chair for an hour in the middle of the night, until I was absolutely convinced she was asleep just to have her spring to life, pop her yes wide open and scream and cry when I so very delicately put her back to bed. The girl can get angry! But comes morning, she's all smiles, often waking up very calmly and happily babbling in her bed before calling for us.

Friends with bio kids tell us that it's all normal behavior, and go "oh yeah" when we tell them about the situation. I guess the only ones Yummy is impressing is poor us, naive first time parents... Still, I'm glad I don't have to go to work: I would have to buy Advil by the pound. At the same time, I kinda miss using my brain for something other than finding out what the dog does, where my nose is or meal planning for a baby who lives off meat. I had a meeting for a private contract this morning, and boy did it feel good to wear real clothes, boots with heels, carry a real purse, and analyze and problem-solve!

And then the squeals of delight from the high chair when I came home brought me right back to the really important stuff... :o)

What else is new? Let's see... Yummy is growing way too fast. She now crawls everywhere, goes up and down a step we have to the living room, stands up wherever she can, cruises holding on to furniture, babbles with the cutest and sweetest sounds, makes sounds that actually sound like words, including her own name,knows a few body parts and a few animal sounds, has started to test limits, blows kisses, waves bye-bye, cuddles up to us, does amazingly well in the car, has started to use 2 signs together ("more" and "food"), often believes vegetables are poisonous, absolutely loves looking at her books and makes the sounds of the animals she recognizes on the pictures, loves going outside and feel the wind on her face, and is in a "I love spitting" phase...

Since the Quebec City trip went well enough, we've decided to be bold again this week-end, and go visit friends in Maine, and attend a telemark (we'll be skiing, not phoning people...) festival in Wildcat, NH on Saturday. I have a severe case of cabin fever, and so does S, to a less extent. We figured that the nights are already short enough here, it won't make a huge difference elsewhere. And if need be, we can always try to take her to bed with us. So even if we never sleep again, I'm still going to call it a mental health week-end. We're going!

Here a few pictures from the holidays:

On a walk on Mont-Royal on New Year's Eve

New Year's morning, joining us in bed: it doesn't really get much better than that... :o)

Getting into the recycling: I sense some door locks coming up...

Being cute and silly at mealtime

My gorgeous baby...