Dori fights sleep at night. She does her absolute best to stay awake as long as she possibly can. She will not relax. The slightest sound, gentle rub, any distraction is questioned, examined, queried on with the dedication of a palace guard. Who, what, when, where, why? Bedtime becomes a philosophical discussion and a pity party. Mom why does everyone else get to stay up? And my new favorite – Mom I waited all day for you to come home, can’t I just have a cuddle?(in the most pitiful of voices – AT 9:30 AT NIGHT). Every night painful ailments suppressed in the fun of the day come to light. My arm hurts when I lay on it, my leg has a scratch, I need a Band-Aid for this tiny, tiny, tiny – really I mean get out the microscope sized cut..
I have tried everything.
Tough love a.k.a. crying it out- people she will lie in bed quiet for hours. I will leave her alone to go to sleep. Hours later I will tip toe in the room knowing she must be fast asleep only to see those bright almond eyes watching in the dark. Those are the worst nights, when I know she has waited quietly for hours for me to come to bed and sleep with her. On those nights once I lay down with her, ready to sleep myself she is out in minutes. She was simply keeping watch until I came back, then she was able to let down her guard.
Massage-once I warmed some almond oil and massaged her back until she drifted off to sleep. That worked the first time. Now it is – Mom let me help. I want some. Rub my feet. Anything but relax.
Just letting her stay up. This works for a few days but she need more than eight hours of sleep at night. And she does not sleep in. And I get no down time. And we just start getting ugly.
Lay down with her until she falls asleep. This is what happens most nights. On good nights it takes an hour and on bad it takes four. Sometimes I fall asleep before her and get poked to “stop making that noise” (apparently I snore). Many times I get frustrated and angry. She cries. I cry. Other things get left undone. I go weeks with only g rated television. (Sometimes I try to sneak television that I think will bore her so she’ll fall asleep. But then she starts identifying the cast of the Office and I am polluting her little mind – bad mom.)
Dori has never been a good sleeper. At four months in Addis she was on a round the clock, every-three-hour, feeding schedule. I think she finally slept through the night about six month later. She slept in her own bed for a while but would still wake in the night. I learned after a while that having her with me to provide a quick pat was a lot easier that getting up with her multiple times in a week. Just this Tuesday night she cried out in the night four times. Each time I touch and tell her I am right here and she quiets instantly.
This leads to the question -have I created the monster? In my fears about attachment problems have I left her unable to self sooth at night? Is that a problem I need to address? Do I need to just leave her alone to sleep? Is there an underlying issue? A fear of abandonment buried in her mind? Is this related to the abandonment/malnourishment/ect she experienced as an infant? This has gotten much worse since we moved. Do I just need to give it more time? And finally, how on earth can I parent another child if this keeps going on?