Friday, May 21, 2010

Hmm...What To Do About This Attachment Stuff?

Reminder: Tonight is the kickoff event for Fort For the Fatherless!  If you are in the Fort Wayne area, it isn't too late to join in!  Come tonight at 7:00 and hear how God is working and how you can be a part of a grassroots movement to defend the fatherless in Fort Wayne!

Whoa.  I have been a little MIA...There has been lots of action, just too much to blog about!  I have seriously debated posting today...I have told several of you that I use this blog for my journal, but also, it is sort of like therapy for me.  This week has been a little rough, I know I have written about a lot of the good, but honestly, this week, while we have had our good moments, we have hit the fussies! However, before I launch into this, let me mention, we have NOT regretted having twins even for a moment.  They are incredible gifts of God

Last week, the girls were very content and I actually called and cancelled the help that was lined up for the afternoon to clean and help out because I had so much time.  Maybe they were just good enough to lull me into this sense of "hey-I'm-not-too-bad-at-this-twin-mother-thing"!  Pride comes before the fall...This week, after my husband talked to my Mother-in-law, she decided to come for 2. That is in addition to my Mom for a day and Amy K.  Mom Gerst brought her buckets of cleaning supplies and hit this house, she was like the cleaning fairy!   

Since Sunday, this is a typical scene around the house.  They are still having times of contentedness and fun just significantly fewer than before and not in the evenings. 

And they are both stranging, which is great because it shows they are attaching,but also can make things difficult, especially in the evenings, when they are the fussiest and I am the most tired!
This picture was taken last week and makes me laugh. My mom and I went to take their six month pictures in the park. Jada was soooo sleepy and could hardly keep her head up! 

They are usually not on the same napping schedule. People ask me, "do you have them on the same schedule yet?"  I just laugh because they definitely have me on their schedule called "We Cry and Someone Picks Us Up" schedule.  :)  They are taking very few naps and the past few days, not quality ones.

I honestly don't know what to do.  We are at a point where I think they need to "cry it out" but then I worry because of attachment issues. They not only need to start crying it out in the sleepy times, but in their awake times as well.  Jada has had to be held every minute she has been awake today.  I finally put her down and she is not happy about it.  (Yes, they have clean diapers, they have just been fed and no, I don't think they are teething, although I may just give Tylenol to be safe...or sane...:)) 

I don't want to over attribute attachment and bonding issues.  I also don't want to dismiss it b/c I do think in some ways, they are dealing with low levels of trauma as we are the fourth place they have lived (hospital, Mekele, Addis, us).  With that said, I have heard enough about the difficulties of kids who have never attached or not formed strong bonds and I know we don't want that! I have been letting them cry and then every few minutes, going to reassure them "Mama's here", putting their pacifiers, giving them a new toy, whatever.  However, this seems to refuel them with a heartier cry, convinced now that I am near.  :)

Add on top of this, they are doing construction close to our house and ripping out sidewalks. Jackhammer noises about 40% of the day!
So, I could use your suggestions (no comment is too long or short)...and prayers.  Maybe this Sunday will turn 'em around? :)


Minders said...

Oh Amy! I'm so glad you shared what's been going on this week. This is something that I've been thinking a lot about and figured that we will be dealing with when our daughter comes home. Therefore, I'm glad you're going through it first so I can glean your wisdom!! :) j/k! I completely feel for you.

Having not gone through this before I don't have a solution for you. I think it sounds like you're doing what you should though. I will pray for you all and hope that maybe it's just a little phase for the girls.

You're doing a GREAT job with them! Please keep us updated on how things progress with this because I'm very interested in what works, what doesn't and how they respond.

Joy and Geoff said...

(Friendly Disclaimer: totally speaking from no parenting experience - just lots of reading and talking with close friends and watching close friends & family - so absolutely no real "advice" intended - and will be interested to see what others say) - I do lean toward an attachment-oriented philosophy - figuring I'd rather err on the side of over-responding than under-responding with soothing, holding, etc. (especially with babies who may have had too much in the way of under-responding early in life). I've seen folks with twins successfully do the baby carrier thing, which at least leaves a hand free to carry on with...something? I guess it's the old "can't spoil with too much contact" idea...with the corresponding thought that this leads to security, which leads to greater eventual ability to self-soothe...again, totally going with my gut and observations on this one...sort of sense this is how God made us. Anyway, thought I would comment - mainly just wanted to validate your efforts to do the best you can - your girls are lovely! It's wonderful being about to follow others' adoption stories (even about the rough weeks) while we wait for our own story to take shape...

Janell said...

Great news that they are stanging! That is huge. It's important that you keep feeding and doing most of their care. For the crying...I'm all for letting them cry it out. I've talked with several adoptive parents and it's really split 50-50 on this. Meaning 1/2 say it's totally fine, and some think it's not good for attachment. The fact that the girls are already stanging is a great sign. And it's important to know the difference in their cry. Is it a mad cry? Then let them cry it out. Is it a sad cry? Then comfort them. Seems like you guys are doing great. The truth is that parenting is just really hard, adoption or not. Hang in there.

Sandra said...

I as well have never gone thru what you are going thru but from what I read and see in pictures are one AWESOME momma!! keep up the great work. God will give you only what you can handle.

Brandy said...

Hey Ames- When we had Georgia, makes me wish God would've included a special book in the Bible on parenting decisions ;). However, I've realized that in His own way, He all the verses that instruct us to pray and trust in Him. My best advice (and I've been doing this parenting thing all of 4 months) is to have you and Jon both pray about it, talk it over, and then give yourself a time frame for implementation (for example, if you decide to let them cry for 10 minutes then pick them up, try that for a week's time and see what happens). Whenever I try something new with Georgia, it seems that she goes between it's working and then not working for about a week before it's her "new normal" and she has adjusted to it. never works consistently and I know I need to figure something else out. God really does care about all of the "small" decisions we make as parents...which is awesome because taking care of babies brings about plenty of them!!! Sometimes I think that's the most tiring part of it all--all of the decisions you have to make for them without really knowing if it's the right one until you try it out for a while. I'll be praying that God will give you and Jon clarity on what to try--and that the first thing you try works :). As for what Seth and I have done--we tend to lean towards letting Georgia cry it out--but hard for me to give advice because we haven't had to factor in all that comes with adopting. We always gave ourselves boundaries with her crying though...would give it a time limit and then go in and pat her on the back until she calmed down, then let her cry another ten minutes, etc. I've talked to a lot of mom's and read accounts of different babies--it seems like they all have their own "style" of soothing themselves...some cry longer than others to soothe themselves, some cry hard then stop and sleep, some whimper around for a while before falling asleep...etc. It's a lot of work--this parenting--but isn't it fun getting to know your babies and learning how they are?! Amazing how God made us all so different and how that's evident from day one.
Love you so much, Brandy

Jen said...

Hi Amy. I realize you don't know me. (: I was a friend of Tadd Gerst's in school when we were young and I came upon your blog through theirs and LOVE it. You crack me up and those babies could not be sweeter. Anyway....I have 3 kids of my own and have definitely dealt with sleep issues. They are the worst. My friend and I both read an amazing book when our kids were tiny. The author is Marc Weissbluth. The book was "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child". I'm actually not a person who parents from a book, but this one was right on. He is a doctor and has done actual it's not just theory. It's also the kind of book you can just go to and look up a problem you're don't have to read the whole thing. That is KEY when you're desperate! (: Probably the biggest thing I learned from this book is that babies need to go to bed earlier. People (my former self included)often think babies have a fussy time at night when in reality they need to go to bed. After I read this book I started putting my son to bed between 5:30 and 6:00! Crazy! And he slept longer than he did going to bed later. There is some science behing it that the author explains, but the important thing is it worked...for ALL 3 of my kids. When I looked on to see if they had this book I noticed there is one by the same author specifically for TWINS! Now I realize you are dealing with some unique issues because of the attachment and the book may not address that, but there HAS to be something in there that would be helpful! I really think it would be a good purchase. (: I don't know if crying it out is the answer like you said because of their attachment. But if it is just beware it is one of the hardest things you'll ever do (I sat and cried) but also one of the best things you'll ever do. It's so much easier to be a good mommy when you get a break during the day and sleep at night! I'm sure I don't have to tell you that right now!
Anyway....sorry for rambling on your blog, but I just really wanted to let you know about that book. Feel free to email me if you have other questions about it or can't find it! I'll keep you in my prayers!

Justin & Sarah said...

Hi Amy,

Ditto on all the above. I will be praying for you. There is so much "gray" when being a parent. However, He has given us everything we need for life and godliness. I just read this morning in the Psalms that "My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." We serve a sovereign God, and I take comfort that whether I make mistakes or not, He has an exact plan for my life, and the life of my children. In Romans it says, "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." Though Romans 9 is a difficult passage for most, I take much comfort in God's Sovereignty. His will for Jada and Adia will be done. In the meantime, pray, pray, pray... and trust, trust, trust in Him. We are facing difficult decisions right now regarding what direction we should take for Hudson's schooling, and these verses have been a comfort to me. I pray that they are for you too. I love you very much Amy, and will be praying for you and Jon.

Justin & Sarah said...

One more verse to bring you comfort, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps." Proverbs 16:9

The Gress Family said...

I am a friend of the Chavarria's and have been hooked on your blog since they briefly told me your story. As a mom of twins (almost 2 years old) I understand how you feel having two at the same age, wanting your attention. Like you said your situation is different because you are not wanting to interupt the attachement stage. My advise would be to slowly ease into letting them calm themselves. Maybe for one or two days let them cry for 2 minutes and then go in and comfort them (not picking them up is key, even though it is hard) then the next few days do 5min, then 10min, then 15min, etc. For my life I had to get my girls on a schedule. When it was time to eat (every 3hours or so), if one was sleeping and one was ready, I woke the other. Not everyone needs the same regiment though. I would be glad to give you more insight to how I survived if you want. If there is a multiples club in your area, check it out. It is wonderful to get advise from someone who semi-understands what your going through.
It looks like your doing an awesome job and your girls are gorgeous!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Amy, I hear ya girl !! (I do have to add that I don't have time to read all the previous comments--but I wanted to add my comment anyways). You are doing a great job and I know that because of what you posted. I remember when we came home with our twins, Maya (the oldest) was attached to me for the first 2 months. People joked that they could tell them apart because if no one was crying then mommy was holding Maya. Funny but it was quit true. This did not worry me it actually reassured me. Sofia however was completly different and I was concerned about her from the first day I met her. (With lots of love, kisses, holding, prayers and a great therapist, she is doing great) I wouldn't stop at anything. I held them as much as I could. We never knew what was making them sad. Yes, this had the potential to start some habits BUT a very wise adoption agency angel told me meet their needs FIRST, we can always address habits later.

My only comment about the sleeping stems from that....we always responded to their crys. We didn't let them cry it out. Not knowing what the crys came from I would never want them to feel like we were not there in their greif. HOWEVER, I didn't necessarily pick them up at night. I'd pat them, sing, (hours of singing)sometimes just humming since I knew they didn't recognize my words. As the months went by, I would sometimes hold/rock one of them and leave the other in her crib. I'd do the singing, humming, rocking---and it soothed both of them. It allowed one to get the touch and the other a little practice calming to my voice without touch.

That was way more then I was gonna say, so if you only read the beginning and the end, I want to reassure you that you are so early in your relationship. Each time you complete the cycle of need, trust is strengthened. It is exhausting to watch them start over with trusting mommy and daddy. Our twins have been with us 2 years now and we still go through phases of night time crying/screaming with Maya. But as she grows and I see how my words alone reassure her, I know that only came from the continually meeting her needs. You can always work on getting them to put themselves to bed later. :) Oh the day.....

And we always encourage each other that what you may be "doing" for only one of them, the bond between them makes it as if you are "doing" it for both. Sofia always knew if Maya was OK then she must be OK too. :)

You have my email address don't ever hesitate to email or I can give you my phone number too.

Lots of love,

Eric & Marissa Bahler said...

Hey Amy! So I randomly found your blog one day and read it from time to time.. love hearing all your fabulous stories and seeing your precious girls. Isn't mothering a MILLION times harder than it looks?! Yikes.. seriously. I feel like it took a solid two months before I could even understand why people ever have children! ;) So on the crying thing... our Elliott is about 6 months. He was a SUPER cranky kid. Gas/burping issues, maybe cholic.. who knows. Anyway we went to visit Stef in Feb. and prior I had been doing my best to always pick him up when fussy, rock him to sleep, etc. She pretty much made me stop, and let him cry it out. Praise God for older/much cooler sisters! :) I am SUCH a better mom for it, so less stressed/frazzled; and he is seriously somehow a better baby too. I was surprised (for him) how little he actually had to cry. At the most it only took less than 10 min. before he settled down. He didn't always fall asleep right then, but would be content to play in his crib/etc. until he did. I'm sure it's different for every baby/situation, but for us it was nothing short of a miracle to just let him cry.

Now that I've been a mom for all of 6 mos. my heart just goes out for those in the first months of it... it is SOOO hard. The whole thing gets oddly infinitely better when they start sleeping through the night... so hold out... it WILL happen, and things WILL get better... you're getting there!

We will SO be praying for strength/endurance/patience... and a dose of God's peace :)

Eric & Marissa

Eric & Marissa Bahler said...

also... have you seen the Praise Baby DVDs? Just a 30 min. dvd with praise music and images of babies, animals, graphics, etc. I stick out little guy in a chair with a toy and let him watch it in the mornings while I shower & get ready... without it I'd probably still be in my pjs I had put on 6 months ago! Might buy you a few minutes of sanity... and hey... it's praise music right?! ;) whatever works...

Michelle said...


We were having sleep issues with our 2 1/2 year old just adopted 3 months ago. He wanted a LOT of attention at night. It would take him 2 hours to go to sleep, then he'd be awake for 2 hours at night, refusing to go back to sleep, and often even more than that. He also wasn't napping well. We finally pulled out "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" and decided it was time. We have three other young kids, and knew we needed good sleep at night in order to be able to parent all of them well. There were two ways to let him cry it out, either going in at predetermined intervals or "extinction", closing the door and letting him scream as long as it takes. We had tried the preset time thing going back in to reassure him that we are here, but it only seemed to prolong things, so we tried extinction. It took about 4 nights to get him going to sleep without crying and staying asleep through the night, and about 6 days to get him to nap without crying. Now, just 8 days after we started this, he sleeps through the night and actually wakes up later than the other 3, and yesterday took a 3 hour nap! We had to wake him at that point. I think the key, however, for the sleep is to make sure you are meeting the needs and having lots of snuggle time during the day when they are awake to help reassure the little ones that you are there for them. Sleep is SOOO important to their overall development, that if that need isn't being met, so many other things suffer.

We also did this with our two bio kids. At 10 months old we finally got Kai sleeping through the night after just ONE night of letting him cry it out (granted it was 2 hours of constant crying...yes VERY difficult to listen to...I got up and cleaned in the middle of the night so that I could bear it). I waited that long b/c he seemed SOOO mad when he would scream and could go on FOREVER! In retrospect, I wish we'd have done it a lot sooner. We did it at 4 months with our daughter. It took 3 nights for her to start sleeping through the night, but she wasn't nearly as stubborn as our son with the crying. Just my opinions/experiences. Again, I highly recommend the book.


Jamie Bahr said...

Wow! You two have two beautiful girls! I am expecting child number four and sleep has been our biggest struggle (I am a BIG wimp when it comes to letting them cry!) so I am totally enjoying all this advice:) I don't really have much to add, other than that I have often told myself, by the time they are sixteen they will sleep(?!), feed themselves, be potty-trained and not pick their noses anymore:) I'll be checking back for more great advice:) Blessings to your family.

Amber said...

I've been thinking of you Amy - it's not so long ago that I can forget how exhausting, constant and busy it is in the beginning. You've had lots of good advice, but I just wanted to echo, if you ever want to know how some of our experiences went with our girls or just talk, PLEASE call or email (or even just email specific questions). I know time is precious these days. : ) We'll continue to pray but glad you've had a good couple of days.