Some background: We have a 7 month old foster baby that we've had since she was 3 months old. When I got her at 3 months, I was her 4th mom!!! She's had many attachment issues because of that instability early in her life. When we got her, she showed signs of neglect, even coming from other foster families. We have done as many of the attachment things as we legally can with her and she's showing good progress with bonding to us. She's bright, energetic, happy... and hyper-vigilant. She doesn't seem to want to settle down. Never has from the moment we got her.
She sleeps in a pack and play in our room, just inches from my pillow. I always "nurse" (bottle feed) her to sleep and hold her until she seems deeply asleep. But, most of the time, the minute I move, she awakens. Or, if not right away, she'll wake within 5 minutes of being laid down. We can't co-sleep for legal reasons, but I get up every time she wakens. That is usually 3-20 (literal- I count) times a night (8-12 hour period). It's so disheartening! I always "nurse" her back to sleep outside of her crib and put her back in her bed when she's asleep.
She also doesn't nap. At least not well. Like today- I put her asleep in my arms 3 times but she never made it to the crib once. She probably got a total of 40 minutes during the day. She seems tired but just can't settle down.
I know that you're probably going to tell me that it's her developmental stage but she's never gotten out of it. She's never slept well since we got her.
I feel like we're missing something. I know that CIO isn't the solution but what is?
I really wish we could co-sleep. I think her anxiety would be helped so much by constant contact with us.
She's never more than a few feet from me all day and night. She can go into my arms any time she wants; although baby-wearing doesn't work for me- I'd rather just hold her.
But, because she needs me all day and night, I feel like I never get a break from her. She's zapping all my strength and stealing my sleep.
My husband helps on the weekends, but he works on airplanes during the week and needs his sleep.
She wasn't drug or alcohol exposed.
I don't have much advice, but I wanted to offer some hugs. That sounds like a very difficult and sad situation. Any idea on how long she'll be with you? Is this a foster-to-adopt situation, or will she return to her birth family?
I know you said babywearing doesn't work for you, but perhaps you haven't found the right carrier? I know that being able to do some housework or even just browse the internet with two hands was really helpful for my morale when DS was teeny. If you haven't already, check out thebabywearer.com The mamas over there are great and can help with everything from selection to troubleshooting.
Also, regarding the bottle nursing... I had to do the same with DS after my supply tanked from returning to work. Maybe towards the end of the feedings where you are trying to nurse her to sleep, you could lay the baby down on her bed and just sort of cuddle her? It would be similar to side-lying nursing and make it easier for you to slip away since she's already laying down. Also, I just let DS keep the empty bottle to suck on. It was a life-saver for me when I started it at 9 months. He never took a pacifier, and even though I could no longer nurse, he still needed to suck constantly. It's still a major comfort to him at 2.5 years (though he only ever has it at bedtimes), but I figure I'd likely still be nursing him if I was able, so I don't have an issue with him still needing a bottle.
Strong single mama to Ethan (9/09) and Rowyn (7/12)
I have no advise whatsoever. And it certainly sounds completely and utterly exhausting. But I'm sure your efforts now are going to have a huge impact for the rest of her life. I hope someone can offer advice on how to make it a bit easier on you.
Thanks for your support. It helps just knowing that I can complain to someone.
My husband changed her bed a bit and made it more comfortable and now she can't get enough sleep. Ever since he changed it, she's been sleeping 11 hour nights with just 2-3 wake-ups and taking 3 naps during the day. I think she's making up for all the sleep she missed. This morning, she took a 2 and a half hour nap! I'm so happy and relieved. Of course, now that I'm not running on adrenaline any more, I'm exhausted too. I love seeing her surprised, happy face when she wakes up from a nap and my face is right beside hers (not all the time, of course).
I really hope this trend continues.