We are STILL Failing at Sleep Training and Eating is a Disaster

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In the age of social media (not to mention the many play dates we attend), it is impossible not to compare yourself to your seemingly perfect peers. A year-and-a-half after Sonya’s cochlear implant surgery, she is doing wonderfully. She speaks in complete sentences. She is a leader in her mainstream twos program. She is learning and speaking Russian.

Yet, I sometimes feel like I am failing her.

For one, I can’t seem to properly sleep train her. I have read the books. I have hired the professionals. I purchased the night lights and lullaby machines. Yet, Sonya still cries for me to lay next to her while she falls asleep – and as hard as I try – I have yet to succeed from weaning her from my presence.

At night, Sonya does not wear her cochlear implant (CIs) processors. She is deaf. This has been the challenge – and I have yet to encounter a sleep training guide, professional or friend who has a good solution for it.

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When Sonya cries for me, I find the sound unbearable. The sleep training books say she is using tears to manipulate us, but all I hear is her fear. It is dark, silent and she is alone. Who wouldn’t be afraid in that type of situation?

When the books tell me to offer comfort by the sound of my voice, I sigh in frustration. As soon as I give up, I lay back in her bed. Her breath shaking from crying eases and she smiles while closing her eyes. “I love you mama. I love you so much,” she says as she lays her arm around my neck.

Eating is another challenge. Sonya is a “stubborn” eater. She basically subsists on a diet of challah, ricotta and pasta, protein pretzels, berries, cheese and milk. Behavioral methods to improve the diversity of her food intake haven’t worked yet. We were chastised for allowing her to have an iPad at dinner, but the fact is – the iPad worked. It kept her distracted and she would eat a broader array of foods. Without it, she grows frustrated at the sight of foods she doesn’t think she will like and takes her CIs off.

While it is hard to convey these challenges to friends of hearing kids, I try to remember that every child has their challenges – whether deaf or hearing. Every parent probably feels the way I feel to a degree.

In happier news, here is a video of Sonya taken just a few days ago. She is speaking non-stop these days. We couldn’t be prouder of her progress:

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One thought

  1. Dear Missy,

    I just read your post and it made me feel like there is so much i would like to tell you…
    First, you are a wonderful mum and your kid is amazing! You are facing such a great challenge and you are doing so well! look at her! She is an amazing little girl… I never really met her, but I am already completely in love with your daughter! She is smart, she is funny, she is amazingly cute and she learns Russian (really??!!?, waow!).
    Now, ok, you can’t help but comparing her to her “seemingly perfect peers”, i get that! I hate myself for doing the same… and even though my daughter has no hearing impairment, i can’t help but feel like she might be slow… At daycare, there is a little girl who was born just the same day as Hortense, and she can do so much better. She can kiss (Owww, sooo cute…), she can say a few words, she can put objects back in a box… and Hortense, she cannot kiss (i don’t think she even really understands the concept!), she cannot talk (unless you consider “tata” and “tatata” is talking) and she still has trouble to put objects back in a box (when she meets a box full of cubes, she empties it and instead of puting the cubes back in the box, she tries to drink with the box as if it was a glass… brilliant!). I know i should not compare them because every kid makes his own way to progress, but i can’t help it. So I totally understand that you would do it too… so ok, she has trouble to fall asleep without you. Let me tell you, I know plenty of kids in the same situation (deaf or not) but I don’t know any adult who needs his mum to fall asleep. This means that those kids who had trouble falling asleep, they overcame it at some point otherwise we would know adults needing their parents to get to bed, and we don’t. So it will eventually get better, just be patient and trust her (I know this is soooooo easy to say…).
    About he fact that she cries at night, i can so much understand how you feel. Hortense just spent a month where she was crying every night, it was really hard. There was nothing i could say to confort her, she just needed my arms (and not her dad’s!). I heard do much despair in her voice… I thought, “how can she feel that way, we love her, we are just across the corridor and she knows it, and when I kiss good night, I souroughly tell her every night that i love her, that a mummy is never far from her baby even if she cannot see me and that I will be there in the morning for new adventures!” And still, she screamed in despair. It broke my heart every night. I talked to her about that in the morning when she was awake and in the evening before dinner, and it finally got better. But i will never know whether what i told her had anything to do with it or not…
    So, you know,I understand how you feel her cries are unbearable and that you think she must be so afraid in the dark, silence and alone… but there is something a thought about… ok, this is just an opinion from far across the ocean :), but it might be worth considered : you know, they say babies love noise because it reminds them when they were in their mother’s womb, and that silence is scary because we are not used to it. That’s why we understand when little children are afraid in the dark and silence. But then I thought : not her! She was used to silence, and it probably isn’t as scarry for her as it is for us. Maybe, that could be one of the good thing of her hearing impairement. Maybe the fear you feel in her cries is at least partly a projection of how you would feel in the dark and silence but maybe she is just afraid of being alone in the dark (as we all are, me first!), and the fact that she is deaf is not at stake here… So, ok, it doesn’t solve the problem, but at least that removes the “hearing loss part” of the equation. Night terrors are common, and they always pass. I’m sure this must be very hard, but just do as your mother heart tells you and you can’t be completely wrong (we are never fully wrong when we act with our mother heart!).
    About the food. Ok, she is a stubborn eater. Big deal! My husband also is (i should say boyfriend as we are still not married but I hate the word and this is another story!). And he grew up fine. That’s a little bit annoying sometimes, but that’s it. And Hortense starts to follow her father’s path… aargh!! Now, if i make her eat, i have to sing! If I sing (very poorly in fact…) she eats, if I don’t she refuses… Very convenient when you’re outside… 😉 But in the end, i think ok, she grow up fine, she is not skinny, i don’t wan’t dinner time to be a battle every day, so be it, I sing! I just hope one day she won’t need me to sing anymore (or that will be very awkward!)…

    Well, I just wanted to let you know that we, parents, all struggle with our kids for some reason… You are facing one extra big challenge compared to us and about that one, you are doing AMAZINGLY!! really, every time i watch those videos i love about Sonya, i think how well you are doing and how smart and precious she is! Honestly, you can be proud, a lot! The rest is just the normal struggle of every parent… no one is prepared for it and we are all doing the best we can. As for myself, I know i am certainly doing mistakes, but i do my best, and i am doing my mistakes in good faith, so I can live with that. Moreover, it makes me a non perfect being, which is great because then my daughter knows that if mummy is not perfect, then she does not have to be perfect too. And I’m sure that it’s a big relief for our kids to feel that they have the right to fail… that’s just life.

    I hope you understood that I am absolutely not judging you (except i think you’re AMAZING, and in some way you could consider it a judgement… but a nice one!!). i just wanted to cheer you up and let you know that you are not alone facing those questions like “am i doing the right thing?”, “why isn’t my kid responding to my strategies just as the books say she should??”, “does she feel safe?”… I am too. Sometimes i also feel like I am the only one struggling with a kid. I see my friends with their perfect kid, making so many progress, and their perfectly organised lives, they take time to go to the park with their kid, when i try to make Hortense sleep every spare time I have, hoping i we be able to sleep for a while (usually she does’nt sleep, but she is nice enough to play in her bed and let me sleep an hour… isn’t that sad??!?) and they still manage to take care of themselves… And i look at myself, and see what a mess i am : my clothing don’t fit me anymore, I have 2 pairs of jeans i can wear and a bunch of old tee-shirts, I shave my legs a lot less often than i should, i have no time for make-up and i feel like i’m running late everywhere! But when i take the time to speak with them then i realize they have their own struggle too, it’s just that no one likes to talk publicly of their difficulties. So you can think other people are doing better than you, but actually they don’t. And that conforts me!

    My dear Missy, I hope you’re happy, because you deserve it! You are a wonderful person and i wish we could see each other more often… Please keep on posting your videos of Sonya, they usually make my day, she is so adorable!

    See you soon, i hope,
    Sophie

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