Wednesday, January 6, 2010


We have struggled and struggled with getting a good nights sleep for some time. We have good stretches, and I actually feel human. Sophie has slept in our room since coming home from China. About a month and a half ago, I felt attachment wise and healthy sleeping wise it was time for her to move in to her own room. Things were going pretty good for awhile. I really thought we finally were going to sleep. Then Christmas break rolled around and towards the end of break she was waking up twice a night. I told her that if she stayed in her bed all night she would get one loves stickers the way Sophie loves stickers:) And that kind of helped. I also added that if it was dark out that she could not come in my room....well all that got me was her crying outside my door. *sigh* Since returning back to school she is a wreck and waking up 2-3 times a night crying wanting "mama" , before when she was waking up she wasn't crying. She is not having night terrors, I think she is waking up and I am not there ( I snuggle her until she is off to sleep....I know I know). I have tried to help her to go to sleep on her own....but she cries and just will not stay in her room. No matter what I do. Her cry has changed from a flat out freaking out panic cry, to a mild panicky cry for Mama. I have tried bringing her back to bed, kissing her and telling her good night, and leaving. Only to have her jump out of the bed as soon as I walk out of the room. Seriously I could bring her back and put her back in her bed until the sun comes up. I need help people. I need sleep. Sophie needs to sleep.

I should add that we have ALWAYS struggled with getting her down for a nap. Usually I throw her in the car and bring her home and put her in bed once she falls asleep. Over break I laid down with her a couple times and noticed that she was holding her breath and making a little noise when she let her breath out....she is holding her breath so she won't fall asleep!!! When I tell her to stop she usually does, but SHE IS HOLDING HER BREATH SO SHE WON"T FALL ASLEEP!! I asked her teacher about this today, and she said that she "makes a noise" when it is time to sleep....she usually stops when the teacher asks her to, then sleeps about 30 minutes.



Shari U said...

Oh my gosh, I know what you're going through. We adopted our little girl when she was 10 months old, she just turned 7. We had major sleep issues with her and we've tried everything we could possibly think of. I spent countless hours driving around waiting for her to fall asleep and then driving a little longer to make sure she was asleep enough for me to get her into bed. I'd hate to take over your blog with what we've tried, had success with, have settled with, etc. I'd be glad to share more, but I don't want to bore you with details if you're looking for something more specific. I will say, that last night, Abby went to bed in her own bed, because she wanted to, and this morning was the first time I've had to go wake her up!!! YAY! We've had some really rough periods and sometimes when I look back, I'm not sure how either of us survived it. If you want more info, please let me know. Best of luck.

A Beautiful Mess said...


For the love of a good night sleep please tell me what worked....your daughter is seven and she slept in her bed all night for the first time. OMG....sophie is only three!!

Allie, Jenn, Hadley, and Riley said...

Maryellen, I don't really have much to offer except sympathy. I know you have to be tired. I read the book Healthy sleep habits, happy child. It came highly recommended to me by several friends, but it isn't really helpful in the adoption and bonding aspect of things. If you want to borrow mine, let me know and I'll mail it to you. Hang in there!

Lindsay said...

I've had loads of sleep issues with Hannah (actually it was the closest thing to living in Hell!) She came home at 10 months. Lots of attachment issues, lots of issues especially associated with sleep - in fact the psychologist described her as being traumatised by sleep (often locked up alone in room in orphanage to sleep so it was all about reabandonment).

We still have lots of bad times when she can't sleep (hypervigilant) or can't stay asleep. Also very, very restless (lots of moaning, helicoptering around bed etc.) But she normally stays in her own bed (will be 3 in March) and sleeps well. Normally naps too.

If you want to email I can let you know what has helped us, though it isn't perfect (

Biggest thing I can recommend (the Godsend) for helping Hannah stay asleep has been the weighted blanket. Helps cut down sensory overstimulation, gives feeling of security etc. Does Sophie kick the blankets off a lot? I know a lot of orphanage children can't stand to be covered up due to the sensory stiumulation. Hannah loves her weighted blanket and has slept so badly all Christmas as I didn't take it with me on our break.

Seriously I really recommend the blanket. Let me know if you want the contact details for where I got ours. It was recommended to me by other BTDT moms with kids with sleep problems. It has been amazing.

Shari U said...

By the time Abby was 3 I think we had pretty much figured out the only way she was going to sleep well was if she was in bed with us. We have a king size bed, so there was enough room and the three of us were comfortable and we slept all night. I think the closeness was really good for her and I believe, that for our situation, it had a tremendous impact on her healing. In the past 2 years we've encouraged her to sleep in her room, but we've had to present it to her in a way that we're not making her do anything she's not comfortable with. She knows that she's welcome to come in our room anytime she wants and for her, I think it just cleared the space in her head enough that she was able to make the decision on her own. She told me this morning that she woke up during the night last night, I asked her why she stayed in bed and she said because she wanted to.

I could relate to what Lindsey said about her daughter being traumatized by sleep and I would think that's the same thing with my daughter. For the first few years she was so hyper vigilant and it was just heartbreaking to watch. Also, as mentioned by Lindsey, she didn't like to have covers over her at night. It sounds like the weighted blanket could be a Godsend.

If you have a situation where you can't sleep with Sophie in your bed or if you're really not wanting her there for another FOUR years, clearly our sleep plan won't work for you! About 2 years ago, we moved her to a twin size mattress on the floor right next to my side of the bed and she's slept there very well. After a period of time, I was able to move the mattress a little further away to a more reasonable spot in the room so I didn't trip over it when I got up during the night.

Our family is a bit older than yours....dh is 50, I'm 48 and we have 2 kids in college, 1 in high school and Abby in the 1st grade. And let me note that the older kids were never in bed with us except for an occasional treat or when they were sick. We were definitely not fans of the family bed before we became parents to Miss Abigail. Knowing this is our last child and needing our sleep and eventually seeing how well Abby was doing in all other aspects of her healing, we feel it was a good decision for us.

You need your sleep, though, and Sophie needs her sleep and I say whatever you can find that works for you, do it.

Sandra said...

Mare, you know I've been there with Tahlia. I SO get what you are saying about needing sleep; about Sophie needing sleep.

This holding her breath thing is new to me. Wow, that is something else!

I think I've told you before what eventually worked for us. If I didn't let me know and I'll share with you. For now, know I am feeling for you.

Yoli said...

Speak to her pediatrician, you want to make sure it is not sleep apnea. I am so sorry you are dealing with this, it is honestly one of the hardest things we go through with our little ones. We ended up using the Ferber method but that is not for every family or every child.

Lynn said...

I don't know of anything I can add, just wanted to send you some Hugs:)

The Gang's Momma! said...

Oh, Mare. I'm so sorry - I have no good advice, as our sleep issues aren't consistent or as intense as what you must be feeling. I have to tell you though, that I will commit to praying for you and hubby and Miss Sophie, as often as I see your name on my Reader or on FB. I will pray for peace and rest to come upon her little heart and mind, that the racing thoughts and panicky feelings be calmed by the God who loves her so much more than even you do.

Hang in there!!!

S said...

I did not find Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child helpful for either of my children...G - home at 5 months and J - home 10 at months. Both grieved for their FM and I just had to wait it out. I have been told (for a good situation, like foster care) that grieving and attachment takes a month for every month they were not with you and then a year to seal the deal. It has been true with both of my sons.
Let me know if you want to borrow the book. I can meet you at T*rget and we can chat too. Have a great weekend and hang in there.
Stephanie Your T*rget friend:)

Kris said...

Wow M... this is tough stuff. M-n-M sleeps in a toddler bed in our room and I still am unsure about leaving the room before she's asleep. But, we went from me laying with her (on a mattress) to just holding hands, to now her getting to sleep after hugs and kisses. I am so nervous about that time when we transition her to her own room.

Thinking of you and praying that with time and consistency, it gets better and better.

Kudo said...

This is a great post. I read every comment because you can add us in to the difficult to get to sleep club too. But for some reason she has decided to sleep in her tot bed in my room it has lasted all week and I am ecstatic. Maybe it is the heavy blanket she got for Christmas that she has been under. Makes great sense to me regarding sensory integration. I did have to scoot the bed up to mine for a few days and slowly move it back to the wall so it wasn’t in the middle of the room. I then took down all the bed rails so if she needs to get back in to my bed she can without me having to get up. So far so good I love having the whole bet to myself again. I think it’s important to follow their lead on this if they are not ready to sleep alone then I am going to honor this and hope by the time she is 18 she will be ready to move out.