Friday, July 1, 2011

Help me!!!

I wish there was a magical drug that social workers could keep in their carpet bags for when they drop off the little cherubs. Ya know - something wonderful and marvelous like Mary Poppins had. Something that kids who were just removed after suffering Lord knows what could be given to help them sleep at night.

But there isn't.

So, bear with me as I complain a little here. I'll try to capture all that I've done to help the little bugger sleep. I'm hoping someone with prior experience with this can see between the lines and offer up a possible solution that I haven't tried yet.

I promise I won't be a brat and say that it won't work without trying it first.

Here goes....

Dude has been here for 16 nights now. Every single night there have been tears. These tears have ranged from violent upset to typical snot-nosed two year old "I don't wanna". I would say the actual going to bed process is working just fine now. For the past couple nights Dude simply fusses a little but then lets me tuck him in without issue. Routine is a beautiful thing and usually works wonders.

The bedtime routine is the same every night. The only variable is whether or not they get a bath. I turn on fun music in their room while I get all three of the little ones ready for bed. After all three are in PJs I read stories. Then we tuck in. I pray. I sing a couple songs. I turn on the lullaby music and I say goodnight. And like I said, this process has been working quite well now that Dude has recovered from his nasty virus that had him so sick. Even Dolly has decreased her level of distress and gets in bed without getting horribly upset.

There is a nightlight in the room. After trial and error it seems that Dude sleeps better with a considerable amount of light in the room. He seems to get much more scared when he wakes up when it's dark. (There has always been at least one nightlight. He just seems to need it brighter. I'm now using a small tap light that utilizes a nightlight bulb. It sheds quite a bit of ambient light across the room without being too bright to sleep in.)

Dude likes lots of blankets on him. I would think this would help if he's used to sleeping next to his mom in the same bed (which is a strong possibility). He even leaves these blankets on all night long.

He has a couple stuffed animals that came with him. I also bought him a baby doll that he seems to like a lot. He goes to bed with all of these.

I have tried running a fan in the room for white noise. I've tried turning the fan off. Neither seems to make a difference.

I put a gate up in the hallway outside their room. This is to discourage Dude and Dolly from wandering the house when they wake up. It seems to work. Dude gets up in the middle of the night and just stands at the gate calling out, "Mommy". (I'm unsure if he's calling for me or his mom. During the day I'm just "hey" LOL.)

Here is the sleep schedule that would work well for a 2.5 year old that I am trying to implement:
afternoon nap from approximately 1:00 to 2:30
bedtime between 7:30 and 8:00
wake in the morning around 7:00

All of my other children have kept schedules similar to this. And Dude seems to respond well to the actual schedule. He's tired at nap time and has been going to sleep well. He's tired at bedtime and goes to sleep quickly.

The problem is that Dude wakes up about every 1.5 to 2 hours ALL NIGHT LONG!

We're past the horrible few nights where he screamed for hours and wanted to be held. But he's still waking up and needing me to tuck him back into bed. And did I mention he's doing this every 1.5 to 2 hours?!

I'm so exhausted I can barely see straight. I've got no pregnancy hormones surging through my body to help me out with this kind of a sleep schedule. I've got too many kids to be able to "sleep when the baby sleeps" in the afternoon. I can't swat the little bugger's butt and tell him to stay in bed. (Not that a swat would be effective! But I can say that the thought has crossed my mind.) I can't lock him in a padded room and let him cry all night. (But oh how I've thought about modifying the guest room downstairs to do just that!)

What am I missing? Is there anything else I can try? Even if it sounds simple or silly I'm game at this point. I need a little bit more uninterrupted sleep. Last night Dude was up at least 5 or 6 times and Dolly was up once. I'm going to struggle to get through the day. Thankfully Mr. Amazing gets out of work early. He's planning on being home by 2:30 and I'm planning on taking a nap. I welcome any and all thoughts on the subject.

2 comments:

C Dawn's bucket said...

I had a couple of thoughts while reading this. I have no experience with foster children, I do however have a 4 year old with Sensory Processing Disorder and some of this sounds really familiar to me.

My guy sleeps better with a weighted blanket. Do you have a heavy levi quilt or something to try?

Also have you tried giving a massage to arms, legs etc with lotion and moderate pressure? gently massaging his scalp as part of the bedtime routine?

Another thought that occurred to me was that I wonder if you could get a recording of a soothing voice in Spanish telling him that he was safe and Dolly was safe etc. and playing it on a loop at a low volume would help? Has anyone been able to explain to them in Spanish what is going on?

I'd also try cutting out his afternoon nap. I know it will result in a grumpy day...but for me the nighttime sleep (if it happens) would be worth the trade off.

jendoop said...

I've read that bedtimes and bathtimes can be the most traumatic times for foster children because those times were often associated with sexual abuse. You don't know all of what he's been through, sexual abuse or otherwise, that could contribute to his night discomfort.

I hate to say this, but there may not be a quick fix or an "answer". If a child has a behavior instilled in them for years (like sleeping in mom's bed) it will take more than a few days or weeks to break the habit. Especially when combined with the trauma of being placed in foster care.

Good luck, sorry I couldn't be of more help.