Update at the end
Haven’t had time to think about last night. Haven’t had time to talk to friends or other adoptive parents. Haven’t even talked much with Brian. But I know several pre-adoptive families are reading this blog, hoping to learn more about adjustment by reading it. So here ya go… we had our first “I have absolutely no idea what’s going on or what to do about it” hours last night.
The kids went to bed at 7pm as usual. Jordan often plays awhile after the girls fall asleep and is asleep by around 8pm. We looked up from our books yawning and deciding to go to bed at 8pm. And heard him still awake. “Talking,” banging on things, and just generally wandering around his crib. He has only rocked to sleep when he’s tired so far and he was happy… decision: let’s just go to bed. By 10ish, we were still awake (we can’t sleep until we put in ear plugs or the kids go to sleep). And that’s when things got more strange.
He began to laugh. He was banging around the crib a lot. And laughing hysterically. He sounded like somebody was tickling him. In the middle of the night. And he hadn’t slept yet. I went in and watched him – he was rolling around on the mattress, standing and CRUISING (moving along the edge of the crib while standing – which he can’t do, I thought), he stood with his back to the side of the crib and decided to walk across the mattress (the narrow way) – lurched, hit his head pretty hard on the wall as he fell halfway, and kept laughing. I love to hear him laugh, but this was more creepy than joyful. He was constant motion… hyperactive and not slowing down.
Was he dreaming? Was it just that he was tired and silly/”rummy?” Is it related to his adoption and the disruption of his world: Was he putting on a brave front? Was he deciding to not be afraid for a little while? Was he upset and laughing instead of crying? Is this what he was like in the orphanage? Was he trying to make things “feel” more familiar? Was there some sort of physiological/psychological imbalance that was making him laugh so irrationally and hysterically? Was this some sort of spiritual attack? It crossed my mind that it could be something he ate. The way he was behaving was making me uncomfortable. And I didn’t know what to do about it.
So I picked him up. And decided he needed to be with me. In the middle of the night. Awake and laughing for no reason. We rocked. And Jordan kept laughing. Everything I did made him laugh. He was much more familiar with me than usual (in the last 2 weeks usual anyway – I know we don’t have much history)… patting my face, grabbing my lips, chattering ba-ba-ba, ma-ma-ma, squeal and huge grin. I wasn’t trying to encourage his laughter, just being relaxed and restraining him to a cuddle hold with one ear on my shoulder to fall asleep. He did eventually stop laughing and struggling. Finally cried a little like you’d expect a wiggly toddler to react to being held in a semi-firm position.
It took over an hour, but he finally calmed down. Laughing turned to crying. (back and forth for awhile, but slowly became more subdued.) Crying turned to whining. He began to suck his fingers again. And then he finally relaxed and went to sleep. 20 minutes later at 11:30, I put him in bed. He woke up and rocked and ground his teeth around 5:30… don’t know why he woke up again. He’s asleep now.
So there you have it! A snapshot into the life of a first-time adoptive family. Thing will become clearer, although we may never really understand. But please pray for Jordan’s heart as I suspect he is processing the huge change his life has gone through.
On another note: We had his first EI meeting yesterday morning and it went REALLY good. He was very interactive with us, making eye contact, chattering, crawling, and just generally being super-adorable and willing to be with us for two hours. Maybe that precipitated the panic-laugh overnight… I don’t know.
With his eating, he is doing a snapper impersonation right now. Started biting the spoon. Now he snaps a bite at the spoon and then turns his head and leaves his mouth hanging open. He’s obviously playing with his food and/or exerting control over whole eating process. But it’s no big deal. After half a bowl of teasing in the bites, he settles down and chows down in his usual content manner.
Update after talking with friends and with Brian:
I think Lindsay is right that Jordan is most comfortable in his crib.
You know how if you’ve been holding some sort of worry or anxiety for awhile… and then your husband gets home after all day at work, or the right person gives you a hug… and your emotional control crumbles? You begin to laugh or to cry but you finally feel release? I think we missed Jordan’s fall-asleep sweet spot last night (probably had something to do with the flashlight Anna smuggled into bed). So then he was awake… and he was where he feels the most safe: his crib. And it’s been so long since he could stop being vigilant. He began to laugh! All the way through relief laugh.
You know how babies aren’t able to regulate their emotions very well? Say they’re crying and they work themselves up. And they get too worked up. They get to a point where they can’t calm themselves down. Jordan passed the point of happy and laughing into uncontrollable, excited, squirming giggles. He was definitely out of “control.” Whether he wanted to calm down or not, he was too tired and wound up to stop.
I’m not sure what the best response at this point is, but I do want to help him learn to regulate his emotions. So restraining him calmly in my lap seems like a good choice, so long as I am calm myself. If nothing else, I am modeling the correct emotional tone.
So the plan: For small giggles and playing in bed, we’ll leave him be. When he gets wound too tight (or unwound, as the case may be), I will hold him and model calmness. That’s plan A. Plan B is to get earplugs.
I wonder how long it will be before Jordan releases and cries like he laughs last night? I’m so very, very, very glad that he is home and safe with me instead of alone in an orphanage. Welcome home Jordan. Come on out of the shell… the water’s fine.