When we first became the parents to Pickle there were countless posts about his sleep issues. Mainly those revolving around rocking. So many that I am sure you became bored and this is why our readership dropped.
Five months later... Pickle is still a rocker. Shocking? Not to me anymore. I have tried every trick in the book and he still rocks. In fact, I can currently hear him rocking if I turn up the baby monitor. I bet at this point you are asking, "if he is still rocking how does this count as strides in sleep?" I'll tell you.
On any given day I try to be as candid as possible about the issues we face with Pickle. The posts may come here or at Life of Elle. We do have our fair share of post institutionalization issues, but for the most part they are minor. Sleep has been our biggest battle.
We became parents to Pickle on September 5th. Our first attempt at putting him to sleep would prove to be more challenging than originally anticipated. At the time I didn't post much about it. We had limited internet access and I didn't have the energy to go into it. On the second attempt to put Pickle to sleep I tried to lay down with him, but he was so disturbed by all the changes he just couldn't lay there. What caused most of my crying is that he would sit up and make a figure 8 rocking motion with his head until he finally was so exhausted that he lay down and continued to rock. There was no way I could hold this child or comfort him to help him fall asleep. I just laid next to him holding his hand and sobbing. This particular behavior went on for about 3 days. We had enough of that so we both laid with him and one or the other held him down until he fell asleep. He was even more disturbed by this and he started screaming. The next morning Suzanne would tell us she knew when it was bed time in our house. It was that loud. Pickle was frightened by sleep. When it was bed time he would get anxious, breath rapidly and get generally freaked out by the whole thing. By the time we left Russia things were getting better.
When we arrived home Pickle slept with us in the bed the first night. We were all so tired that was just easiest. The second night we tried putting him in his bed, but he ended up with us by about 10. The third night he was in his bed the whole night. To put him to bed without rocking both of us had to stay in the room while one kept their hand on him the whole time. At times we would have to hold him down to keep him from rocking. Some afternoons it took me using both hands to hold him down, him screaming and me falling into a blithering puddle on the floor before he would sleep.
We have had countless arguments over the rocking. We have fought more about this than we have over anything the entire length of our marriage. It is disturbing. It makes you feel inadequate as a parent. To hear your child rock for self comfort, to know they are not calling out to you to soothe them. It breaks my heart a little more each night. The worst part is the not crying. Most say just let him cry it out and he'll be fine. That is all well and good, but Pickle has not once cried in his crib. Never. In 5 months. Never ever cried. Not even when he's been sick. I can't say that enough. It seems that no matter how many times I say it there is still someone who does not believe. He does not cry. Not even a whimper. Just rocks.
So to make the strides in sleeping that we have I thought I'd share a few tips that have gotten us to this point.
We started by holding him down and both of us were in the room. This lasted about 2 weeks. I would sit on the floor and CS would put a hand on him. As soon as he removed his had Pickle would rock. I would sob.
We tried putting him in the bed, staying with him until he was sleepy and then leaving the room. He would still rock. I would continue to cry.
We tried only one of us staying in the room until he was asleep. This takes somewhere around an hour once he's in the bed. Not as much rocking, but he eventually started laughing at me.
It was finally suggested to force him into the rocking chair. Up until that point he would refuse to be held and rocked. I did this and after about 3 days or so he was compliant. I rocked him to sleep, but he woke up upon the transfer and then rocked.
I continued the rock to sleep method and eventually this worked... for about a week.
The pediatrician suggested playing some soft music to distract him from the rocking. We bought an iCrib. I thought my problems were solved by this little gem. It worked for 2 weeks. He adapted and started rocking again.
We resorted to the rocking to sleep, but still this took upwards of an hour. My legs were getting a good workout, but it was frustrating.
Then we rocked him until he was sleepy, put him in the bed and sat or laid on the floor until he fell asleep. We were in his room for up to an hour.
The most recent was rocking him until he was mostly sleepy, putting him into the bed and leaving. We'd go down the hall and say, "no rocking" if we heard him doing so. This was the worst thing we could do. The rocking got worse. He started using it as an attention getting measure. He would grunt loudly, rock violently and make us even more frustrated.
This was the point that CS looks at me and says, "I think we need to take him to a specialist." I agreed, but seeing as it was a Friday night the call would have to wait until Monday. Over that weekend we made a trip to the bookstore. I had been told to go back and read the attachment parenting books and see what they said on this subject. I will finally admit that I don't own a single attachment parenting book. There I said it. You think I'm a bad parent now don't you? Anyway, I sat at the bookstore reading the attachment books and the so called "Bibles of adoption" had nothing on this subject. I mean nothing. They said to rock your child. That is the extent of the info they had on the entire subject of rocking. So we started looking at child sleep books. Here is where we found our answers.
Rocking and head banging is normal in children ages 6 months to 4 years. If this behavior progresses beyond the 4th year seek help. Pickle is 2. It also went on to say that these behaviors are common in children who exhibit neurological dysfunctions such as Cerebral Palsy or Autism. However, children with CP or Autism exhibit other symptoms of neurological dysfunction outside of the sleep time routine. Pickle does not. He only rocks. The books went on to reiterate that this behavior is totally normal. They did not indicate this is only a post institutionalization issue. This happens in biological
children too. The books say there is nothing we can really do for him at this point other than to just let him rock. Children do this for attention getting purposes in many cases.
For Pickle rocking has been two fold. Attention getting and habit. At this point it is more attention getting. We went through a phase were he jumped about in his bed, threw George, Steve and Elmo out of the bed and carried on. We ignored him and that stopped.
Today, the rocking is getting better. I have been spending a little bit of time each day just cuddling with Pickle. He's not so into this at first, but we play little attachment games and he loves it. Since doing this he only rocks for about 20 minutes each night. This opposed to the 60 or so he did before. The odd phenomenon is that he rocks less when it is just me at night. He rocks longer when CS is home. Odd.
Either way in the past 5 months we are making progress. The rocking is less violent, and sleep time is less disturbing for him. Hopefully we are moving to this stopping all together.