Tuesday, August 9, 2011

airplanes and helicopters and bikes, oh my!

We are in the midst of a bit of a rough patch at the moment. It probably feels rougher than it actually is, because it involves sleep and everything feels harder when you're sleep-deprived (can I get an 'AMEN').

Starting sometime last week Z began showing signs of anxiety and fear about bedtime and naptime. At first I thought his behavior was just more of his usual tricks -- Z is a master manipulator and we deal with power-play control battles on a daily basis. But after a few days I began to see signs that this was something different. He was clingy and cried when we left him, he had more frequent night wakings, and he sometimes woke up crying in the morning. Usually we stick tightly to his bedtime routine, but last Saturday night I stayed a bit longer in his room and offered him some extra comfort after putting him down. As I rubbed his back he whimpered, "Airplane... bike.... helicopter." Was he scared of hearing loud noises outside while in bed? I gave him all the reassurances I could think of: You are safe, Mommy's here, you have your blankie, no airplanes or bikes or helicopters can hurt you, you're OK... A white noise machine has helped a little bit, but for the most part he is still a wreck at every naptime and bedtime. We haven't dealt with this type of fear and anxiety in him since his first month home. It is hard.

My crazy analytical brain wants to figure out why this is happening. Does it have to do with how long he has been home? Did something recently trigger a traumatic experience from his past? Is it related to a recent two-night stay at my parents' cabin? Curious as I may be, it is not important (or possible) for me to solve this puzzle. It is important for me to remember that his feelings and fears are real to him, even if they don't make sense to me. It is important for me to keep listening to and respecting those feelings, and responding with empathy, compassion, and comfort. It is important for me to know that this type of thing is normal. It's not my fault, nor is it the result of some mistake on my part (though I've made many). I can't control when or how set-backs happen, I can only control my response to them. Although I hate to see my son scared and upset, I am thankful for the opportunity to be there for him and offer comfort in the midst of it. If nothing else, I hope it will strengthen his trust in me and help him to know that he is not alone.


  1. Thank you for your encouraging words on my blog! Really appreciate it. I eill be praying that the anxiety goes away. i think that there are times that Bella processes things and I will never know what or how...but is just processing.

  2. I know it's too late, but YES you can get an AMEN!

  3. Did he ever move or have someone important leave his life after 5-6 months? (that's about how long he's been with you right?)

    I only ask because we went through a major rough patch with Gauge around the time he'd been home with us 9 months & figured out pretty quickly that it was because up to that point he'd moved to a new home/caretakers every 9 months of his little life.

    Another tidbit a seasoned social worker shared with me recently which has been helpful in thinking about how long it might take for G to be totally attached, is that however old they were when the came to you is approximately how long it will take for full attachment to occur - in our case 18 months.

    I hadn't heard that before but found it helpful in knowing how to "set my expectations" - not that anything can really have clear expectations in this journey :)