Saturday, June 26, 2010

Sleep, Baby, Sleep

The hardest issue that we've been having with Little Bear is sleep.  Over the past month we've gone from no problems, to some problems, to "oh my goodness what are we going to do?" 

Issue #1  Going to sleep -- Its no surprise that going to sleep is really hard for some one whose whole life has been turned inside out, but Little Bear has had a very hard time falling asleep.  Why?  Well since he can't tell me, I'll make several guesses.  Any one of these or a combination of all of them may be the case.
a. jet lag
b. fear- He like this new life and is scared that it might not be there in the morning.
c.  He is loathe to give up all that fun attention from his new mama and papa

Issue #2  Staying asleep--  Little Bear is waking up several times a night.  Then (see issue #1) it is hard to go to sleep.  Why?
a.  fear-  He wakes up and doesn't really know where he is.  On second thought, I don't buy that one for a minute.  He always wakes up calling for "Mama!" 
b.  bad dreams
c. fear- where are mama and papa?

We've tried everything in the past month
1. Co-sleeping-  I know it great for some people, but for us it was no one's sleeping.  The boy tosses, turned, kicks and thrashes.  Charlie also gets up pretty early and we don't want to wake Little Bear up too soon.  We also like to have some time with no kids.
2.  Close sleeping-- We moved Little Bear's bed into our room.  Same problem as above, minus the kicking
3. Staying close by until he fell asleep.  This was taking hours.  He was really enjoying the interaction with us.  It lead us to think that we had to:
4.  Put him in a crib and let him cry. This was ok, but not great.  Then he threw himself out of the crib and hurt himself.  So we:
5.  Put him in his room with a baby gate on the door.  At least this way if he fell it was only from a toddler bed.  This too caused much distress and resulted in Little Bear crying longer than we felt was acceptable.
(Note:  I am absolutely fine with a reasonable amount of crying.  With all of our other children we let them cry for a while.)

In desperation I called Dr. Ray, a radio host I love ( for suggestions.  This in combination with the book Health Sleep Habits, Happy Child  helped me figure out something would work for us. The plan has three parts.  A. Get him to stay in bed.  We either returned him to bed if we heard him up or blocked his way our of bed.  I went so far as to turn myself into another rail of his toddler bed and block his way so he couldn't get out of bed.  The first few times we probably had to put him back to bed well over 50 times.  B. Give Little Bear no attention or interaction at all.  I wouldn't speak to him, not even to tell him to go to sleep, or look at him.  In fact, I even kept my eyes closed some of the time.  C. Let him know I am close by.  I lay in the hall until he is asleep, buy I lay on a futon mattress (I am too old to lay on a hardwood floor.) in such a way that he can only see my feet.  That way I can't interact, but he knows that I am near.  Thing are working.  The past two days Bear has laid down and gone to sleep in about 30 minutes.  If you compare this to the 2 hours it was taking two weeks ago you can see what a huge accomplishment this is for him.

Staying asleep has been a whole different issue.  We tried a different approach for that.  We moved the older boys out of the room last weekend and Charlie or I slept in the room with Little  Bear.  We were able to move the boys back in a few nights later and I slept on the futon mattress in the hall.  The last few night Little Bear has only been waking up one a night, so I have been sleeping in my bed and going down on an as needed basis.  Of course, I keep falling asleep outside on the futon, but I think in a few weeks Little Bear will be sleeping through the night.

What did you say?

So Little Bear has very little English and we have very little Russian.  I think everyone learns a little bit more every day.  We have been speaking to one another in this bastardized mix of English and Russian.  When communication in those languages fails Charlie and I have reflexively slipped in to French (a language which I am reasonably fluent in), Spanish, with a smattering of German and Dutch . 

Actually each day we are better able to communicate and so the random language are spoken less.  Little Bear has mastered suck phrases as "Open the door" and "Mama, come here."  As well as "milk" "all done" and "apple."  His English vocabulary is rounded out with "Jophus, stop that!" and "Pookie naughty!"

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Yippee!  Little Bear was misdiagnosed while in Russia.

For all of you that may not know, Little Bear has pretty significant limb differences.  I didn't mention it in posts because I decided not to make a big deal about it.  He was diagnosed with "tibia anomalies, hip Dysplasia and club feet" while in Russia.  We weren't really certain what would hold up when he got home and what would prove to be a non-issue as Russian physicians diagnose very differently than American doctors.  (As a matter of fact I think our family doctor was terrified when he read the medical abstract.  "You were looking for a special needs child, weren't you?" he asked.)

In all the reports that we have, he is labeled as missing his tibias.  I was really worried because the tibias are the weight bearing bones and most of the children that I have heard about who are missing tibias have had to have their legs amputated.  Today was our first appointment with the orthopedist and we were told that this is not the case.  He is missing his fibulas, which is a much better bone to be missing. 

His right hip is out of its socket and that is much more serious and we will have to have surgery for that.  In fact it sounds as though the next year will be a series of surgeries.  At some point after the hip surgery Little Bear will also have to have his tibias straightened and possibly lengthened.  (I bet that is as much fun as it sounds.)  His feet will also have to be straightened out as they are clubbed. 

The doctor said that there is much more positive than negative going on and what Little Bear has is in good shape considering the complexity of the deformities in his lower limbs.  (I hate the word deformities, but we have to face facts.  His limbs were formed wrong.)  Overall, it was a very positive visit and I'm ready to start the process and get Little Bear's legs in the best shape possible.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Introducing Little Bear

It took me a little while to decide on a blog name, but from this point on we will be calling Little Bit "Little Bear."  It seems to fit his personality which can be grumpy or sweet and playful at a moments notice.  He is also not a skinny little thing and actually outweighs Pookie by several pounds.

We are all home and safe and transitioning well.  We had a bit of excitement  because we forgot a document and I decided to deliver it to Russia instead of sending it.  Charlie had such a tough trip and we just wanted to get everyone home.  In the end everything worked out well and I'm happy that I went. 

Our Little Bear is transitioning to his new life.  It has been bumpy.  I'm not going to lie.  He is a championship tantrum thrower and that wears on me.  Something as simple as you can't sit on the table (which I'm sure is not a shock to him.  I can't imagine that his caregivers let him pull things like that.) will send him to the floor screaming.  On the other hand he is funny and affectionate and sweet (but not indiscriminately so.)  All in all I am pleased with the attachment process and it is exciting to watch it grow everyday.