Sleep Adjustment

Finally having Mekonen home has the been the absolute best! It is better than I ever imagined it would be. Jon and I will often just walk into his room while he's sleeping and stare at him. I just can't believe he's OURS!!!

Before picking up Mekonen, I prepared for some of the worst by way of attachment and adjustment issues so as not to be surprised, but we have been very fortunate that Mekonen has not really had a hard time attaching and adjusting. We have only been home for almost 2 months so obviously, we are still working on the attachment (doesn't come in just 2 months), but we aren't experiencing any huge obstacles. We're still the only ones who feed, change, and do caretaker things, and we are trying to cut back on how much he is held by other people.

I was also worried about how Mekonen would adjust to new caretakers (his mommy and daddy), a new house, a new life, new sounds, new smells, etc. But, he has been doing very well.

The one area Mekonen had the most difficult time with when he came home was his sleeping. After consulting with our adoption group, and fellow adoptive friends, we quickly found that this was a common area that children struggled with when coming home. I will say however, that even Mekonen's adjustment in this issue was not as difficult as some of our friends are dealing with.

For the first month home, Mekonen had a really hard time going to sleep for his naps. Luckily for us, nighttime was his best time. He didn't usually fight going to sleep, and if he did, it didn't last too long, and he sleeps about 12 hours a night, straight through! But naptime was another story. It would sometimes take up to an hour to get him to sleep, and during that time I'd be holding a screaming and thrashing baby who was completely exhausted but would not let himself sleep. Then, once we finally did get him down, he'd be back up about 20 minutes later. This led to a very cranky baby for the rest of the day. Slowly, the morning nap was better and under control with the afternoon nap still being the death of us. After several weeks, we saw improvements and Mekonen was finally not thrashing and screaming, but still not sleeping long enough.

But now, I'm happy to say that he is finally getting into the napping groove, some days longer than others, but he almost never thrashes and screams anymore. As soon as his light is turned off, fan turned on, and he has his blue blanket and is rocking with mommy, his thumb (Mr. Sailfish) goes in his mouth, and he falls asleep. It is precious.

We also learned what is behind the sleep struggles and particularly the thrashing and screaming. The babies were loved and well cared for at the orphanage, but obviously there was not time or enough people to be always interacting and being personally engaged with each baby. So they spent most of their time without much one-on-one stimulation and physical contact outside of feeding time and diaper changes. Then, we arrive, and shower our baby with more attention and stimulation than he has ever had in his life and the synapsis' in his brain are going crazy!!! New connections are being made in their brains that were not there before and chemicals are released in their brains that feel so good to them- finally, someone is nurturing one-on-one the way they are supposed to be. Then comes naptime and they don't want all those feel good chemicals to stop and they thrash and scream to keep themselves awake. Part of it is a fear response too, as they are unsure when and if this is all going to end. It's so sad we just can't tell them and they understand. But rather we have to show them, day in and day out, that we are mommy and daddy, that you can trust us, that we are never going to leave you, that we are always going to take care of you.

Just for fun, here are some pictures of our little man sleeping. He is ALL-OVER his crib when he sleeps. His crib in Ethiopia was pretty small. There wasn't much room in it for him to really turn around. Then he comes home to this big bed and he pretty much covers every square inch of it in one night.

Here's how we found him one night when we checked on him, his arm hanging out the side. Haha.
We went back in before we went to bed to check on him and this time, found his feet hanging out. Haha.
Then after we took his feet out of the rails, he rolled over and Mr. Sailfish (his thumb) took over. Isn't he so sweet! :)


Charity Hildebrand said...

There's nothing more precious than a sleeping baby! I love to watch my kids sleep. He's such a cutie and with that thumb . . . ahhh! Both my kiddos are thumb-suckers too. We're working on trying to get Colson to stop (he's 2 1/2) because his thumb gets so sore and dry over the winter. Mekonen is adorable! I'm glad he's adjusting well and the naptimes are getting better :)

Anonymous said...

this is amy, but the computer won't let me log in!
You probably know this as I had mentioned it to you before.. but for your blog readers!

When we adopted our son at 11 mos, he has very similar problems, except with panic attacks. The best advice we got from our adoption doc (aside from assuring us how normal this is for adopted kids!), is that he would likely go through a version of the same thing every time he went through a big developmental milestone or went through a big transition possibly all the way through puberty.

He is five now, and that has been 100% true! With each new move, new classroom, new skill (like potty training) or in the early days a new sunday school teacher, it would show up in his sleep for awhile. Sometimes I am so used to him I forget this and then realize that is what is happening.

aamayna said...

Hello! I can't remember if I have commented on your blog before or not, but we are thinking of also adopting from ET.
Our daughter came home from an orphanage at 13.5 months old. She has had night "tantrums/ anger/ panic/ rage, whatever you want to call it" in the middle of the night on and off. I agree that it seems to be triggered by changes, development or "cycle of memory" which is anniversary dates of meeting us, changing daycares, etc. It has gotten much better and we are now more prepared with how to deal with it. Just a reminder about how these babies lives were less than optimal before coming home.

He is adorable!

Donovan and Julie said...

If you could market the sailfish, I would purchase one for Sosi to help her with her sleep...besides, "sailfishing " is tres chic!