Thursday, January 7, 2010

Nights Full of Cries

I have been sleeping on the couch so I can keep an ear on my two little boys. I am listening to different things, but I need to be there for both of them. Lincoln has a horrible chest cough which is making his asthma much worse. Sleep is difficult for him right now. George...simply cries.

We noticed the first night home with George how much he cried in his sleep. Joe and I would listen to him all night long when we lived in our old house because we were right across the hall from us. Once we moved, we are not near the boys' room, so I haven't been hearing much. I thought that eight months later, the cries would have stopped. I found out this week, they have not.

I have noticed that George yells things in his sleep, probably every hour. He yells words that I don't recognize most of the time; sometimes he yells out the word, "No!" The yells are always followed by moans. It is a guttural moaning that comes from deep within. Sometimes there is crying.

But, he never wakes us during these cries. He stays soundly asleep. There have been times I have gone in and gently rubbed his back and say quietly that everything is ok, but I don't think he has any awareness of my presence in those moments.

Thankfully, when he wakes up, he is generally happy and in a good mood. We have joked about his yelling at night. He thinks it is funny that he yells out in the middle of the night, so now he asks me, "Momma...what did I yell last night?" I usually make up something funny, like "Lincoln no stand on your head!" George will laugh and laugh and then tell all his siblings what he yelled out that night.

A few days ago I started doing some research about adopted children and their sleep patterns. Here is something I read:

Post Traumatic Stress: The older a child gets, the more cognitive he becomes, and the more able to store experiences and memories in his brain. The degree of stress, even trauma, that adoption can bring depends on memories of his past experience (whether in an institution or not, whether well-cared-for or abused in some way) combined with the comprehension of his adoption experience (gradual or abrupt, amount of transition preparation, whether or not brought into a new culture with a new language). A child’s reaction to such stress or trauma may be controlled by day, but released when he feels more vulnerable, as at night. Hence, the sleep problems so many adopted children experience.

I would like to say that George has adjusted to life with us incredibly well in the past few months. Our life is really settling into our new normal. There are no more talks of leaving, no more walking down the street looking for a way back to Ethiopia, no more tearing the room apart or anything like that. George has become a totally normal 6 year old, who has all the issues and discipline that all 6 year old boys have! But, he must still be hurting deep inside and at night, those hurts and fears are running through his brain.

My heart breaks that he still struggles during his sleep. I can't help but think that those nightmares can contribute to a feeling of not getting a good night's sleep. Joe and I have begun praying over him at night, asking God to ease the pain he is in, even boldly asking that those memories would be erased so that he can totally assimilate into his new life. I know it is healthy for him to grieve, and this is obviously the arena in which he is choosing to do so. But, I am ready to see him move on from that grief, for his sake, not mine! He has been through enough - it's time to let the pain go and live for a hopeful future.

1 comment:

Rbarrow said...

Traci I will definetely be praying for George also! That must be so hard to listen to and to imagine what he must be dreaming about!