It’s half past midnight. Tears are rolling down my face because this adoptive mom has reached her breaking point! My baby girl slammed her forehead into my face when I announced bedtime. She thrashed, kicked and bit me as I hauled her up the stairs at 8:30. Twenty minutes ticked by as I rocked my Haddie girl to sleep. Once she was softly snoring, I tried to sneak out of her room, but the wood creaked and she woke up once more, shrieked and yanked me back down on her bed. I rubbed her back for another twenty minutes…once her screams subsided, I tried to leave a second time but she wailed and howled like a rabid wolf. I shut her door and pressed my back against it as she banged and screamed some more. Her guttural cries broke my heart but she needs to sleep. And I need it, too. My bones ache from cycling through this screaming, sleepless night nonsense just 24 hours prior…so I gave up and retreated to my room. And cried.
Last night, it took my husband and I five hours to put our daughter to bed…she crashed at one in the morning and woke up five hours later. We’ve tried it all. Melatonin. A pack-and-play in our bedroom. Sleeping in our bed. Letting her crash on the couch before moving her upstairs to her own bed. Sleeping on the floor. A fan. A nightlight. Two nightlights. ALL THE LIGHTS ON!
When my patience wears thin, I try to reflect on this picture of my baby girl at the age of two. Shaved head. Sharing a crib every night with another child…in a room full of abandoned babies. I’m sure she’s had to pacify herself at night with no one to comfort her. The pitch black dark of night is death for a traumatized child. I want to extend compassion for that. I get it. Troubled sleep and anxious thoughts have plagued my whole life, too. In fact, I’ve resorted to medicating myself every night to get good sleep. And for this season of life, I need it.
But I can’t do that to my daughter. She’s too young to overwhelm her system with more artificial chemicals to sleep. But what is the answer? Should we resign ourselves to this bedtime fight? Every night? Is there a better way we haven’t thought of?
If you’ve endured bedtime battles with your child and have come out in the other side with a positive solution, I’d love to hear it!