Tonight I rocked my baby to sleep for the first time. Ever.
Yes, he may be four and he may weigh 43 pounds, but I rocked him to sleep in my arms.
To most moms this is usual occurrence. However, to an adoptive mom, this can be far from usual. In fact, it can be so rare that it takes over a year and half to happen. That is us. Our boy has been home for over a year and half and he has never let me rock him to sleep.
Our son is a sensory-seeker with very little impulse control when he is hungry or tired. Further, he is about a year and half behind on speech, so communication can be tough. Combine all this with no nap and bedtime can be a torturous event.
Sensory Processing Disorders in children from tough beginnings are common and we are dealing with that day to day here. On most nights mom, dad and son, all go upstairs at bedtime together. We get PJs on and brush teeth. We read several books. Then we all lay down until the little dude falls asleep. It works for us and, frankly, it is beyond calming to an overactive child who can’t quite figure out how to settle down on his own yet.
We still co-sleep. Therefore, he never wakes alone and knows we are at arm’s length for him if he has a night terror. Again, night terrors are common for little ones from tough places. Sleep is hard for most children. Sadly, children from institutions tend to have trauma triggers at night and it is a tough path to figure out.
As I rocked him tonight, tears filling my eyes, I thought of all the firsts we have had. I thought of how different they looked for our family compared to most.
I thought of how hard fought some of those moments were…
The first time he cried when daddy left for work.
The first time he called us mommy and daddy.
The first time he realized, mommy, daddy and baby make a family.
Parenting children from tough places can be frustrating, heartbreaking, angering, beautiful, heartwarming, and a million other emotions. The one thing that we parents who fight the fight every day to complete the missing pieces can certainly understand about one another is this: sometimes even the smallest first can feel like the biggest accomplishment.
I do not know if I will ever rock him to sleep again. I hope I do, but he is four, so I’m guessing those days are numbered. Even if I never do again, I can at least understand the feeling of holding my baby on my chest in the dark of night and feeling the gentle sway of the rocking chair keeping us close and lulling him to sleep.
I longed for this feeling. I prayed for this feeling.
And, now, I know it.
Most people do not understand the process of attachment to a child not born into their family. Meaning well, many folks just say love is enough. While love is certainly a huge part of attachment, it is not enough.
Understanding and patience is a huge part. Learning who your child is and how their past follows them is a huge part. Taking five steps back to get one step ahead is a huge part. Parenting your child’s developmental age versus their chronological age is a huge part. It is a winding road and the path is not always clear.
Slowly but surely this family is finding their path and forging ahead. Some days we have to go back to the basics and that’s okay. Other days seem to be smooth sailing and that’s okay too.
I certainly do not know what challenges or accomplishments tomorrow will bring, but tonight? Tonight I will cherish this moment.
I rocked my baby to sleep for the first time.
– guest post by Dana