January 8 – Ana climbed in bed with me

This is hilarious!

For most children climbing in bed with mom or dad is a natural thing to do whenever they are sad, scared or hurt. For kids with RAD, it is not. Ana has never shown an interest in sleeping in bed with us unless she needs to throw up on  me at 3:00am.

As part of attachment parenting we practice co-sleeping. Currently, we have Baby Grace and Baby Gabe in our bed.  Drew co-slept with my ex-husband and I (and then with me after the divorce) until he was about five. Hannah slept with us until about three and a half and now we are more than ready to kick Grace out – her time has come!

But Ana never wanted to sleep with us. Ever.

Last night she woke up at around midnight crying. I knew her arm had to be hurting her so I gave her pain meds and helped her back to bed. She didn’t want her bed; she wanted in ours (with the two other babies). I told her that was fine fully expecting her to last all of five minutes. Surprisingly she stayed the rest of the night.And as a bonus, she wanted to be next to me.

I didn’t get much sleep but everyone else did and Ana and I got some exquisite bonding time making it all worthwhile. That’s what coffee is for anyway.

December 22 – Over the river and through the woods

What I like to imagine going to Grandma's house for Christmas looks like...

What I like to imagine going to Grandma’s house for Christmas looks like…

A weekend at Grandma’s house. Ahhhh, how relaxing and comfy. Unless you’re Ana.

Weekends anywhere are super stress inducing and quite often end in trips to the ER for sedatives. Thankfully, this weekend no hospital was necessary.

When we go anywhere Ana has to have some semblance of normalcy or she loses it immediately. At my parents’ house that is relatively easy since they live in a house, the same house they have been in since before I was born, making it the only Grandma house Ana has ever known. That is a great start to a survivable weekend.

Hotel rooms do not work for Ana. They are too small. There are too many people in them (seven in our family) and there are no clear definable spaces (i.e. kitchen, bedroom, living room). She needs all these things. So, whenever we travel we have to have a house or apartment. Or Grandma’s house.

The drive to and from Grandma’s is daunting. It is four hours not counting traffic which isn’t too awfully bad compared to Florida or some far away vacation hotspot. This time in an last minute spark of pure genius I stopped at the library to get some books on CD to listen to in the car. The other kids have a variety of devices to play but Ana is not into any of those which makes her a very bored girl (our mantra is ‘a bored Ana is a bad Ana’). The books on CD were a hit with all the kids so we travelled in relative peace. Even Ana was chuckling at a few parts in the story.

At Grandma’s house things got hoppin’ fast so Ana went along for the ride. We had lunch with extended family which kept everyone entertained and Ana enjoyed the attention. After lunch there were presents which are always a great way to keep Ana happy.

Later that evening we did Grandma and Grampa Christmas which was over the top, as usual, and Ana racked up some impressive gifts. To say the least Justice was well represented.

All during the day Saturday Ana was chilled out about seeing daddy (same city as Grandma and Grampa), but as Sunday night came around and no visit to daddy was in the works she began to talk about it. This combined with limited sleep (always a problem in a different bed than her own), junk food out the wazoo, and a lot of sensory overloading over the course of the weekend caused Ana to lose it.

Thankfully, my husband was with me for this trip so I wasn’t stuck with a meltdown-mode Ana and four other children (in similar states for similar reasons) all alone. We managed without her emergency sedative, but she will definitely need a few days recovery to get back to normal.

December 15 – An “Aha!” moment

A playpen inside a Russian orphanage

A playpen inside a Russian orphanage

This morning at church I decided to give Ana’s helper a break so I kept her with me during Sunday school. Anticipating some problems, I put the baby in the nursery so I could focus all my attention on Ana. She got bored very quickly and started making some noises and talking to me while others were talking. I was able to shush her effectively; so effectively, she fell asleep.

So there I was with a ten year old asleep in my lap. I thought to myself this isn’t much different than having Gabe with me (four months old) except Ana is bigger and snores. Then I had my Aha! moment. It ISN’T much different at all!

I’ll go ahead and admit it. I spent most of Sunday school thinking about this and not paying attention to the teacher. At all.

I started with my newborn. I have observed with all three of my biological children that when I hold them for any length of time they fall asleep. When I hand them over to someone else they wake up. Why is that? Well, for starters, they know my smell. They also know my voice, and recently, scientists discovered they even recognize my heartbeat. Amazing!

Those are all interesting facts about babies and their mothers but it still doesn’t explain why the sleep on me almost instantly to be instantly awoken should I pass them around. I am no expert in human development, biology or any other science, but I believe they behave this way because, evolutionarily speaking, they sleep when they are safe. All those things that tell them that I am mommy also tells them that I will protect them, so they sleep.

If that is the case, that explains a lot of Ana’s weird sleeping patterns. She has trouble sleeping in new places. She falls asleep almost instantly on me or my husband only to awaken should we get up, and she requires a long time to fall asleep at night – even if she is exhausted.

So, my Aha! moment was that her falling asleep on my lap is a sign that we are becoming more attached. Instead of focusing on her acting her age and paying attention instead of sleeping, I need to encourage her sleeping on me just like I do my baby. Not only will I be eliminating a battle, I will be strengthening our bond.

Yeah! Score one for mommy.