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houston, we have a problem

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Life with Maddie has been difficult lately.
Not unmanageable...just difficult.

It all started Saturday night when she woke up with what can only assume was a night terror. The girl was absolutely petrified and wouldn't go anywhere near her bed after that.
She still won't.
It must have been some nightmare and I'm sure it was only magnified by the fact the poor thing had a fever of 102.5.
(That was the day we took her to the E.R.)

The dream must have had something to do with blankets, because now she won't go anywhere near one.
Not even close.
If she accidently comes into contact with one she will start screaming at the top of her lungs. And I have to be very clear about this...it's not a 'I don't like blankets and you can't make me use one type of cry,' it's a 'that blanket is going to eat my feet, get it away, get it away, get it away....' type of scream.
There is terror there.
It breaks my heart.
And there's not much we can do to help. We've tried reassuring her that it's alright. She's safe. Everything will be fine. But how do you convince a four-year-old that everything will be fine, when four weeks ago they were snatched from the only home they've ever known...and we don't even speak her language.
If this were one of the other kids we could have said...
'Nick, you're going to be fine. Mom and Dad are right here. We're not going anywhere. Everything will be fine. It was just a dream. Dreams aren't real, even if they feel like they are. Now, let me rock you for a little bit and then I'm going to put you back in your bed. I'll stay here until you go to sleep. Don't worry. Everything is fine.'
All Maddie hears is a muffled version of 'blah blah blah blaaaah blah. Blah blah-blah, blaaah blah.'
Five days later she is still worried about the blanket. She hasn't used one since and we have had to resort to using the really warm footie pajamas so she won't freeze at night. She also wouldn't go anywhere near her bed until just the last couple of days. She only went in her room to get dressed and even then she whimpered the entire time.
We finally took the toddler bedframe away and just put the mattress on the floor. Now she'll happily go to bed, but Maddie rocks violently in her sleep, so she ends up falling on to the floor.
And the side rails aren't there to protect her.
We've found her a couple of times banging her head up against the wall. (How the girl doesn't wake up I'll never know.)
Last night I moved the mattress away from the wall and out into the middle of the room. At three this morning I heard a banging noise, went in and she was off the mattress completely and banging her head on the floor.
I don't know what we're going to do. We may have to bring her in with us and see if it calms the rocking at all.
In other news...
I'm declaring victory.
Yes, it may be a little too soon, but I am officially declaring Maddie potty-trained.
Big deal, you say? Everybody is potty trained by the time their four? Especially the kids out of the orphanage system.
Oh, contrair mon ami!
(Did I spell that right?)

Maddie was not.
At least I don't think so.
When I went to pick her up from the orphanage I took a pair of underwear with me...no diaper. When I got her back to the apartment and took her in to use the facilities, I found they had put a diaper on her.
So I decided to go with the flow and just keep her in diapers until I got home. No use trying to start training in the middle of all that mess.
We started truly training two weeks ago and now two weeks later I consider her done.
And I will have you know that I am especially bad at potty training.
I'm no good.
No need to tell me otherwise.
I have three kids to prove it.
All of them weren't potty trained until after their third birthday. And so much for that notion that girls are easier.It's BUNK! Anya was the last one (age wise) to get trained and it was in no way easy.

I haven't quite had the courage to put underwear on Maddie full time yet, (aka - away from the house) but she's ready. I just need to take that leap.
Now before you give me any credit at all in potty training her in such a short period of time, let me say I imagine she probably was trained, for the most part, at the orphanage. She just didn't understand her body signals. Once she figured that out (and she's one smart cookie) it was all downhill.
Still...I'll gladly take some of the credit! ;>)
The only problem with little miss thing being potty trained is she insists on taking me to the latrine with her every time.
And every time is every 15-20 minutes.
There's no bladder issues, we've had them checked out. She just likes going potty.

If you need me in the next few days. Check the ladies' room. I'll be in there with my newest edition of 'Parent' magazine looking for tips on how to get my four-year-old out of the privy.
I didn't think I would have to worry about this until she was a teenager!

23 salty messages:

teresa February 21, 2008 at 11:06 AM  

We had night terrors for a long time with our Bug. I think she must have had terrible things happen to her at night, and the therapist agreed. She never really woke up, but she would cry and scream in her sleep. The so called experts were divided on what to do. Some said don't wake her up and we decided with our therapist that she needed to wake up. We would wake her hold her and talk to her. It was always difficult to wake her. Sometimes, it helped to turn on the light and let her really see where she was. She had just turned two, and it went on for nearly a year, but it got better. We never had fear of the blanket or bed, but when she was scared, we would sometimes find her under the little toddler bed. Yes, all six inches of space. She got used to being in our room, but she liked the floor better than the bed, probably because of the trauma she'd suffered. She did better with me or if one of the older girls helped her. She learned to let J comfort her, but it took a while. Keep comforting. Keep reassuring. Keep praying for her. We believe that there was lots of spiritual warfare going on for her mind. Your Maddie is in the same place, where she is becoming safe and sure you love her. She is under attack. You all are. Keep praying.

Lindy February 21, 2008 at 11:28 AM  

Ha, ha! Loved the ending of this blog entry!

Well, poor Maddie with her night terror. I know that with time and your tender, loving care, she will overcome her fears. Obviously, it'll help a lot once she knows the language. That must be terribly frustrating when you can't ask her what the trouble is.

Hang in there. You're doing great! - Melinda H.

Troy and Rachel February 21, 2008 at 12:02 PM  

Sweet Maddie - soon enough she will understand that you are there for you as you are proving everyday by sitting in the bathroom with her. Hang in there. Hope the night terrors get better and go ahead and take the plunge with the undies!

Dave February 21, 2008 at 12:02 PM  

Wow. I'll pray specifically about Maddie's fear. Poor thing.

Ashley February 21, 2008 at 12:44 PM  

Our son, Samuel (who is a biological child) has had night terrors most of his life. He is 9 yrs old now and only has them on occasion. They used to be almost every night and now they rarely occur. When he started going through this, I researched it and that is when I learned there was a difference in nightmares and night terrors. It is a tough thing to go through and I will be praying for all of you. I do hope it gets better soon.

YAY for Maddie being potty trained! That is so exciting!

Kim February 21, 2008 at 12:48 PM  

Our little guy had night terrors when he came home from Kazakhstan. They lasted about 3 months. He also hate blankets. He does not scream in terror over them, but will cry if we put one on him and throw it across the room. He also does not like it if he sees anyone else with a blanket on and will try to take it off of them and throw it. We did actually have him sleep in our room. At first he actually slept in bed with us (he was only 16mos though so easier for us to do) and then we moved his bed to our room and put it near the foot of our own bed. It helped with the night terrors quite a bit, but mostly time is what took care of them. The head banging (which you probably already know this) is very typical behavior of a child who has been in an orphanage. We still catch our little guy doing this on occasion as well as pulling his own hair. Again, time has helped it to fade and for him I am sure it will eventually go away. Maddie is older and was in that environment longer so it will likely take her longer to get over these behaviors. My guess would be that right now it is all related to the changes in her life and having to adjust. With the love, care and attention that you are giving her it will get better.

Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

DoveFamily February 21, 2008 at 1:19 PM  

So sorry to read about the nighttime issues. I think trying her out with you & Shad is a great idea. We did that for the first week William was home just to make sure he felt comfortable in his new surroundings.

I have personal experience with night terrors (yes me, not my child). I can tell you that if it really is a night terror, the best thing to do is to hold her so she doesn't hurt herself or you, and talk gently to her. Rocking her is also good, whether she is awake or asleep. As Teresa mentioned, some 'experts' suggest not waking the person, and not yelling to try to get them to snap out of it.

Other common suggestions for when it's getting close to bedtime: turn lights down lower than your normal evening levels; turn down the volume on TV, radio, etc; talk about (using gestures, sign language, basic English, whatever works!) the trigger items or hitting her head; talk about how there is nothing scary in her room and how her room is a happy place.

Three supposed major triggers of night terrors are being overly tired at bedtime, eating just before going to bed, and stress.

I'd be glad to talk more if you want anything further - feel free to email me!

JP February 21, 2008 at 2:53 PM  

Our translator told us that the orphanage workers tell the kiddos that there is a Ukrainian version of a boogie-man that will get them if they get out of bed.

We actually put our little guy (37 mo at the time) into a crib for the first few months to insure he didn't fall out or wander out to experiment with the kitchen appliances.

When we moved him into a regular bed and out of pull-ups at night, he regularly wet his bed AFTER waking up in the morning. I believe this was because he was afraid of the "boogie man" and wouldn't leave his bed until he heard one of us was awake.

He still rocks himself to sleep at 10 yrs old UNLESS he is at camp or a sleepover (doesn't want his friends to tease him). I'm just hoping he grows out of it before he is married! :-)

I was just given a summary of some very practical information on how trauma effects various brain functions. It is very fascinating as it relates to these little troopers.

I'll be praying for you and your family.

Diana February 21, 2008 at 2:54 PM  

My little one (age 3 - also recently adopted from UA) had terrible "night terrors" for the first several months he was home in which he just simply wouldn't wake up. We tried waking him, but he just wouldn't. All we could do was rub his back and whisper that we were there and he was safe. Because he shares a room with his brother, when the screaming was really loud, we'd pick him up and take him to antother room where we could rock him and and turn on the lights and such. Though the screaming and thrashing have subsided (about 5-6 months home), he still wakes up every night about 1.5 hours after he goes to sleep and often a couple more times during the night and rocks on his hands and knees until we come and tuck him back in.

Take the rest of this with a grain of salt because I'm not a doctor or a therapist, nor do I know or your daughter personally. I'm just another adoptive mom who's been there and done that as well. But, with an ongoing reaction as strong as what you described (you did a pretty good job describing it as well...except you left out the part that the scream sounds like a fire truck just parked in your living room) it may be likely that this wasn't "just" a night terror or even a fear. In her little mind, she may have actually been reliving past trauma just as if it was happening all over again right then and right there and at this point, there's not a distinct separation in her mind between then and now and you and whoever did whatever they did to her. But, whatever it was, she clearly remembers it and I'd say it's pretty safe to say that whatever the atrosity was, it involved a blanket. That said, her not wanting to go near another one then makes perfect sense...she's terrified you're going to try to hurt her with it again.

You did the right thing with the footie pj's. You might try a sleeping bag, too. Try "camping" together in the living room during happy afternoon playtime or movie time and see if get inside. Once she gets a little more settled, she'll start to make the distinction that "that was then and this is now and these people are nice and they love me and they're not going to hurt me, so I don't need to be afraid of these things anymore." Until then, don't make a big deal about blankets...or any other trauma triggers that start to rear their ugly heads.

Again, just as a mom who also deals with similar stuff with my kids, I recommend doing some research on PTSD. If what you read does indeed sound like your little one, as soon as you feel she understands most of what you're saying to her, get some early intervention going with someone who specializes in working with children age 0-3. Sometimes it takes awhile to actually get in to them, so it's never too early to start looking and booking appointments. Don't waste your time or money (like we did) with "just any" child psychologist. Find one who specializes in really young kids. If you don't know where to find one, call your local children's hospital and ask them for a referral.

Rachael February 21, 2008 at 2:56 PM  

Tough times those getting to know each other adjustment phases are; sending you internet hugs and positive vibes to make it through!

You new header looks nice too.

cara February 21, 2008 at 2:57 PM  

Oh, it breaks my heart to think of poor Maddie banging her head on the door. We had to move Matthew's bed into our room for the first 9 months. Great to hear about the potty training.
Cara in SD

Anonymous,  February 21, 2008 at 2:57 PM  

Yay on the potty training thing! Sorry about the night terrors and fear of blankets. Somehow it just never entered my mind that a child could be/would be terrified of blankets. Poor thing, I hope she can work through this quickly.

Mike & Tara February 21, 2008 at 4:26 PM  

Congrats on the potty training! That's got to be a huge amount of pride for Maddie!

The night terror is so sad...the poor little girl.

Anonymous,  February 21, 2008 at 5:52 PM  

Poor baby, whatever that dream was, it sure must have been freaky. And I remember that language barrier frustration well - you really do start to feel like one of the adults on Charlie Brown. But she is smart and it won't be long before she can understand most of what you are saying. (I know, not soon enough!) Could you maybe get someone to translate a simple phrase like "Everything is okay" in Ukranian for you? I had that one phrase in Vietnamese and it helped me so much with Zeeb.

kitzkazventure February 21, 2008 at 6:02 PM  

I just posted a visual log of our sleeping journey with Nick on our blog. It is a journey to say the least. We had night terrors too. Because we were in country for so long in Kaz, we had to sleep in the same room with him and I do think it helped. Whenever we tried to put him down in another area, he had meltdowns. Once home, we continued sleeping with him on a mattress in the floor (we put rails on the floor too!) We took turns! He finally started being able to sleep without us in the room but we still stayed in the room until he fell asleep. New Year's day we started telling him good night and leaving and he has been an awesome sleeper ever since. I can only say time, patience, and parent's intuition to know when to show grace and when to push them forward. It is hard ....10 months later, he sleeps, but it is hard! I have mucho empathy for you and your family! Karen

MamaPoRuski February 21, 2008 at 6:07 PM  

Will pray for your nights and funding for her hearing aid! Our bio daughter had the frequent bathroom issue until 6. No medical issue, just had an "excitable and inquisitive" personality per our MD, LOL!

Tina in CT February 21, 2008 at 9:22 PM  

I shutter to think what your daughter experienced to cause her fear of blankets and the night fears. It sounds as what you and your husband did was 100% right and hopefully Maddie will soon realize that you love her and will protect her. She will pick up English quickly because of her sibblings and most of all because she's a smart little girl.

Steve Eimers February 21, 2008 at 9:40 PM  

No night terrors for us! Thankfully!

I think I'd go with co-sleeping for a while. She's missed out on a lot of snuggling anyway.

As far as the potty training...

Congratulations!! and just a note to mention that my middle daughter (my own flesh and blood) had to try out the bathroom at EVERY place we ever went FOREVER!!! It was annoying! But then, group trips to the bathroom, isn't that how girls stereotypically bond? I mean, we've all heard of the gaggling, giggling group of girls in the bathrooms, haven't we?

And my youngest adopted boy, who has been home a month now, had to have me in the bathroom with him EVERY time he (frequently) used the john. Now he is content to pee alone although he panics if anyone dares to shut the door!

I was expecting food issues. Haven't seen any.
Bathroom issues?
3 boys. 'Nuff said!

Melissa E.

dr. david February 21, 2008 at 10:08 PM  

I am sorry you have to deal with the night terrors. But I am so glad that if Maddie has to have night terrors she no longer has to have them alone. My guess is she didn't just start having them now, but had them before in the orphanage. I bet she only started having them again now because she is starting to sleep more soundly again since she is home now with you. Our son used to have night terrors when he was young and I found that rocking him and singing "Jesus Loves Me" would soothe him. Trust your own heart. You are a great Mom and God will guide you as you care for your daughter.

Justine February 22, 2008 at 12:53 AM  


Boy, that is scary for her! I know about night terrors! My 16 year old went through them from 2-14! They were blood curdling terrorizing to me - just listening and watching him. And my son didn't come from a past. It must be scary for your little one to come from something she knows to something wonderful but foreign.

Another family I know is going through something similar. Their loving children are stopping saying "I love you" and giving kisses. She thinks they are testing the love and seeing if it will stay. It is hard. I will be praying for you!

Old DAN AND Little ANN February 22, 2008 at 1:18 AM  

How heart breaking to see her struggling and to now now the origin of it all. Fear of the unknown is just as real for you in this instance. I pray she'll calm soon. I hate to think what life events made a blanket (which is usually an object of comfort) into an object to be feared for her. I'm sure your heart aches for her. You are doing all you can do it sounds. How baffling. I'll pray for wisdom for you.

adoptedthree February 22, 2008 at 6:44 AM  

Try having her sleep with your other daughter. It may help calm her fears. O had fears of sleeping alone herself even though she was younger. She just didnt want to be alone.

O was potty trained but I put her back into diapers too and took her off of them once we got home. She potty trained in about two weeks.

Also try using the potty "sign". It really helps the kids transitioning language.

Julie February 22, 2008 at 11:26 AM  

Poor little thing! We dealt with terrors with our bio son, and found that praying scripture over him and over his room kept them away! It's worth a shot!

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