Thursday, June 21, 2012

Sleep!

Many of you know that Abby is not the best sleeper. In fact, I could count on one hand (actually more like two fingers) the number of times she has slept through the night. I know there are several reasons for this, much of it having to do with how I've "taught" her to go to sleep, but some of it has to do with factors that are out of our control.

When she was little I would put her to sleep by rocking her, walking with her, or even bouncing on an exercise ball (it sounds crazy, but it was actually a great way to get her to sleep). I was ever so thankful when she finally was out of her crib and I could simply lay next to her in bed to put her to sleep. Now, I knew as I was soothing her to sleep she wasn't leaning to do it for herself, but I'd tried all the "self-soothing" exercises. There many nights when I would lay on the floor next to her crib as she cried, or sit outside her bedroom door, as she stripped out of her clothes and got rid of all her blankets. Nothing seemed to work, she could out wait me like a pro - seriously, there were nights when this would take hours, before I finally gave in and rocked her to sleep - because I was exhausted.

It was in those hours of sitting in a chair in her room waiting for that "self-soothing" to kick in that I began to notice something. There were times when she just couldn't get her feet and legs to "settle" - they were constantly moving, and at times she acted like she was actually in pain. We talked with the doctor about it and even her therapists, but everyone was at a loss. When she would have trouble with this we would sometimes do joint compressions, and believe it or not there were many nights when she would fall asleep while we did them. I could never understand it. Obviously, she needed the extra input. This was the beginning of our suspicions that she had some sensory issues.

Time when on, and since I work outside the house it just became easier to sooth her to sleep with cuddles, joint compressions, and even brushing (this is a technique that therapists use where they take a special, soft, brush and rub arms, legs, hands, feet, etc. in order to give a child more input and to help soothe them). Usually about 3-4 hours into her night of sleep she would wake up and want some water, and Mom. I would lay back down and soothe her back to sleep. This became a pattern that continues to this day.

In the scheme of things this really isn't a big deal. It works for us, and Abby and I seem to be able to function with interrupted sleep. I know it isn't ideal, and that is why a few months ago I made her a weighted blanket, thinking that might help her settle. (I posted how I did it to the "Tutorials" page I added.) The blanket does settle her as she winds down for sleep nine time out of ten, but she still isn't making it through the night.

At Abby's last physical I asked her doctor about any other "tricks" for sleeping. He mentioned melatonin. I'd heard of this, and done some research, but I really hate having her "take" something to help her sleep. Her doctor assured me that it was natural and that it wasn't going to cause her body to stop making melatonin naturally. Thinking we'd tried so much, I figured it might be worth a go.

We got some chewable tablets and tonight was the first time Abby tried it. I was gone at a meeting, so Jason gave her the lowest dose the doctor recommended, not knowing how she would handle it. He laughed when he told me that she chewed it up and said, "Oh, it tastes good!" When he asked her what it tasted like she said, "It tastes like smiles!" Isn't that great?

He noticed that she was getting sleepy, and by the time I got home she was out like a light. We will see if this has any effect on how she sleeps through the night. I'm cautiously hopeful that this will work, although I'm not naive enough to think that one supplement will "cure" years of sleep trouble, but I'm hoping that we are headed in the right direction, and by the time we start school back up in the fall everyone will be able to enjoy a full night's sleep.

Yesterday we made cookies - Abby decided to count them....

....and then eat them.

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