This is a longer post than normal but I sure would welcome your feedback, insight, comments, shared anecdotes....heck, anything as long as it's offered in a positive way.
Here's the deal: Many of you already know that Ed and I have had a charmed life these first 14 months following our return from China regarding all things relating to sleep. I'm talking charmed. We spent the first week back from China adapting to the western time zone, and then over the next few days we used a few different techniques (mostly via Richard Ferber's model) and...voila....the twins would fall asleep every night between 7:30 - 8pm with no trouble at all. None. Zip. Nada. And, they both slept through the night for 11 solid hours and woke up happy at 6-6:30....We were golden. (ah, the "golden glory" days).
Then,then, then.......I went to Europe last month (3 weeks ago) on a business trip for 9 days/8 nights. It was certainly not my first trip away from them as I travelled internationally fairly extensively a number of times before the holidays but this last trip to Europe was my longest trip thus far. Ed said that by the 4th night of my departure, both girls started to get increasingly fretful and call and cry for me a lot throughout the night and by the time I came home (poor little girls), they were extremely anxious. And...now....they no longer will go to sleep on their own. I have to lie on a pallet in their room for about 45 mins until they fall asleep. If I attempt to leave the nursery before they are asleep, they become hysterical. I'm not talking uphappy and whiny; I'm talking body completely soaked in sweat and just inconsolable. They have toddler beds so the minute they see I'm not in their room, they jump out of their beds (and they wake each other up so both girls then get hysterical) and come out of their room and stand screaming at the top of the landing (where the baby gate secures entrance to the stairs). Once I do manage to get them to sleep, I can creep out of their room for a bit, but when they wake up and see I'm not there in their room on the pallet where they last saw me, then it is mass hysteria..not normal crying but screaming like their room is on fire. Crazy upset. And, even when I do sleep on the floor in their room, at least 2-3times a night (each girl) will wake up, come over to my pallet/mattress on the floor and then will fall asleep on the floor as long as their little leg or arm is touching me.....Yep, now that's a heartbreaker thing to experience. And they'll both say (over and over again) in their very anxious little trembling wispy voices, "Mama sleeping here?"
I'm exhausted as I'm not sleeping well at all AND I'm not getting any downtime from them in the evenings after they go to sleep...much less not getting any chores down. In fact, I'm sitting here writing this blog on the mattress on the floor in their nursery. Mostly I'm exhausted b/c I truly feel bad for them. It's weighing heavy on me and I feel guilty for complaining about it. Whew....now I'm the one doing the whining... and it's stressful for Ed and me to simply not have any downtime together anymore.
So, we have called our Peds physician (who specializes in chinese adoption and also has twins herself) and we called in a child development specialist (psychologist). Both are telling us that the girls' anxiety about sleeping probably did get triggered by my 8-day trip and that they are most likely remembering the feelings of anxiety and being "left-out" from their orphanage days. They also both said that maybe we never saw this behavior before because now the girls realize the stakes are "higher" for them now more than ever and that's why they are so fiercely anxious at night.
Me? I don't know what to think or what to do or what to encourage/discourage etc...I am "out-of-my-league" with no experience and no context into this at all. I just know that when I wake-up in the middle of the night on a pallet in their room and see them crouched down next me and see them staring right at me with their little hands just rubbing my arm up and down, it melts....breaks...my heart. Poor little creatures.
But what do I do and when do I stop doing it and how long will that be? Am I doing the right thing by sleeping on a bed on the floor in their room? We actually tried moving them down to mattresses on the floor on our bedroom...(so at least Ed and I could be in the same bedroom together) but they seem much better in their own little beds. Have any of you experienced something like this before? And, I really want to know if I am creating an even "tougher-to-go-back" situation by conceding to sleeping in their room and staying with them....
I'd really appreciate any feeback, thoughts, anecdotes, perspective....
Hugs and thanks,