Why, hello there! Yes, I know I left everyone hanging with the wildly engaging Sleep, Part One. But my blogging adventures were interrupted by Mother Nature, namely Hurricane Irene. Well, she was Tropical Storm Irene by the time she made it to our neck of the woods but she was still hopping mad. So mad, in fact, that she left two trees on our house.
The trees fell around 9AM on the day of the storm. We were in the living room, watching the news or Curious George (I forget), and we heard a boom. Followed by a BOOM. Chad and I raced up the stairs and, right outside of Nate’s nursery window, were two giant trees, uprooted from the ground and “resting” on the roof of our screened-in porch. Should the wind have blown another way, they would have been inside of Nate’s nursery.
The trees were huge and wrapped all the way around the side of our house, across the entirety of the back of our house, and hung in front of the back door, which is our main entrance/exit. When we got a good look at the trees the day after, we realized the branches were raised at least another story above our home–a two story colonial with finished attic on the third floor. All this to say, it was a big tree that we blessedly got removed quickly by driving around and stalking a tree remover who was doing his duty in someone else’s yard. Everyone else either was unable to help or didn’t have a phone in service to field our call.
On the day after the storm, we inexplicably lost cable and internet but never lost power. I am pleased to share that, one day after the storm, the tree was removed and we had cleaned up our yard. Three days after the storm, cable and internet were restored. And one week later, we had a check from Amica in our hands, covering the cost of the tree removal less our deductible. All in all, this was the best hurricane/tropical storm experience I’ve ever had–a far cry from Hurricane Iniki of my youth, a category 5 that forced us to eat MREs ad nauseum and left us without power for two months.
Now that our lives have been restored, and I’ve caught up on all the work I couldn’t do because I had no internet (seriously — you can’t be a work-from-home consultant without the internet), I can now share our further adventures in the land of sleep. There have been major developments.
So, when I last wrote, we had made the decision to move Nate to a big boy bed. Which we have now successfully done. But at first, the transition was none too graceful. It’s hard for me to remember that, even though Nate can’t speak, there’s probably a lot he’d like to say. Like why am I not sleeping in my crib any more even though it’s still in my room? (We kept it in his room just in case.) And, why does Hobbes keep disappearing? (He’s fallen out of the bed nearly every night. Never Nate. Just Hobbes.) Most importantly, what am I supposed to do when I get out of bed? (This actually was our largest hurdle.)
With our BCBA‘s help, we crafted a plan for Nate to be in a big boy bed. It also included a plan for us to stop Nate’s reliance on Classical Baby to go to sleep and, instead, establish a routine that included reading books. Reading to Nate has been a family goal since our IFSP was established. When he was a peanut, he loved to read books. But once he learned he could turn the pages, he only wanted to read to himself. There was no room for sharing in the experience; it could only be led by Nate and there was no reasonable way to pace Nate so that the words could be read aloud on the page. About a month ago, that all changed. Nate skipped a nap on that particular day and he was wildly exhausted when 6:30 rolled around. Both Chad and I were home and we wondered, in his exhaustion, if Nate would listen to a book. He did–three of them, and fell asleep during the final one. The next night, even though he had napped that day, he agreed to listen to three books again. As long as the books were out of his reach and too far for him to kick, Nate decided it was ok for us to read to him. Just like that, a family goal was realized. We now had a routine to complete prior to going to sleep that didn’t involve television.
Once Nate fell asleep, he stayed asleep for a few hours. When he woke up, he was terrified. Nate almost always woke up because Hobbes had fallen out of bed and he couldn’t find him. Nate would be hysterically sobbing because it seemed he was unsure of where he was and his best friend wasn’t there to weather the storm. Nate ran to the door, begging to be let out. When either one of us would go in to get him, Nate refused to lie down in his bed or in ours. He needed to be held until he fell asleep, crying.
This kept happening for a few nights. It was clear that something was traumatizing Nate but we couldn’t figure out what. Right around this time, we had our monthly team meeting of Nate’s therapists. All seven of his ladies, myself, and Chad on the phone talked through Nate’s progress in his programs and set new or revised goals. (We’ve got some good ones — we’re on PECS Phase III!!!) Then, I brought up the sleeping problem. Right here and now, I have to say I don’t know how parents raise children without a team of awesome therapists like we have. Analyzing, brainstorming, and repeating what was occurring caused us to all realize that Nate has never been in his room while awake. His room has only been used for sleep and to get dressed. All play and therapy activities happen downstairs. And, despite having toys in his bedroom, Nate’s never shown any interest in playing with them.
After the team meeting, Nate had a session with Miss Lisa and we decided, as a team, that therapy should now be extended to occur in Nate’s bedroom. So, that afternoon, Nate played in his room for the first time. His favorite therapy toys came upstairs, Miss Lisa came upstairs, and he discovered that his room could be fun and used for things other than sleeping.
I kid you not, that was all that Nate needed. Pretty soon after that, my boy started sleeping through the night or, if not through the night, he was willing to lie down in his bed with one of us to go back to sleep. When Hobbes falls out, Nate looks for him. And when he wakes up, he knows he’s in his bedroom, a fun place to be. This morning, he woke up at 5:45AM (no comment). Instead of running to the door, crying and begging to be let out, he sat on the floor with Honey Bear, snuggled, and told her a giant story.
One other thing helped, and it was a very random discovery. I lied down on Nate’s bed and looked around his room. On the top of his bookshelf sat Elephant, Alligator, and Bubba the River Otter, all giant stuffed animals that loomed over the room. When the nightlight is on, I expect those critters looked scary. So I took them down and sat them on the floor for Nate to play with and crash into. We bought Bubba ages ago when we first took Nate to the aquarium because the river otters are my favorite exhibit. We never realized he was weighted. His paws and tail and other sections of his body are filled with pellets that have more weight than styrofoam. When Nate was re-introduced to Bubba a few weeks ago, it was love at first sight. Hobbes has some serious competition. Nate now uses Bubba as a body pillow. A side sleeper, Nate wraps his whole body around him. Bub’s tail is against Nate’s face, sometimes resting on his neck, and our otter’s head his wedged between Nate’s knees. I’ve even come in to find that Nate has draped the entirety of Bubba over him so his buddy’s feet and head are equidistant from Nate’s belly. When we experimented with the weighted blanket, Nate couldn’t tolerate it but he craves Bubba’s weight. Who knew such comfort would come from a first-visit-to-the-aquarium commemorative item?
Because of Nate’s sensory issues, we wanted to get him a Tempurpedic bed. Then we learned that a twin Tempurpedic mattress is two thousand dollars. For a mere fraction of the price ($200), Nate is the proud owner of a Bob-O-Pedic mattress, a knock-off from the local Bob’s Discount Furniture store. No one in this house is the wiser. His bed frame is a simple wood frame from IKEA that requires no box spring and works perfectly in his room. And he has really sweet jungle theme bedding from Target. Two weeks ago, we got rid of the crib. It’s now one, giant, big boy room. And it’s pretty awesome.