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:

Sonya Gets Stitches

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Sonya recently discovered a new game. It’s one she tends to play when frustrated or tired. She will look at me mischievously, then will pull off her CIs and (while smiling) drop or throw them on the floor. As soon as she sees me get up to put them back on her head, that’s her cue to take off running and laughing hysterically.

Unfortunately, on Tuesday, Sonya ran full speed into our radiator, face first. I don’t think I will ever be able to erase the sound of her little head hitting the wooden radiator cover from my memory, nor the guilt I feel that I could have prevented it.

I wasn’t sure how severe the wound was. She was crying like crazy, but calmed after a few minutes. I didn’t see much blood either. Just a cut that ran an inch length-wise above her eye, crossing her eyebrow diagonally.

I immediately FaceTimed my dad, a physician, who told me to call our pediatrician’s office. They told me to come by right away so that Sonya’s doctor could take a look, and we were there 10 minutes later.

By the time we got there, the bleeding had picked up speed. It was now running down her little cheek. Gotta love our pediatrician who, when entering the examination room to see me in shock and Sonya bleeding, asked calmly, “So, how has your day been?”

“Horrible!” I cried.

After cleaning and examining the wound, he referred us to a plastic surgeon on the Upper East Side – who he said would be able to stitch the wound without impacting the shape of her eyebrow.

I had no idea what was in store. Watching Sonya get stitches was one of the top three (if not the) worst moment of my life so far. Since she is so little, they decided not to sedate her, rather give her local anesthetic – which needed to be injected by needle to the affected site. Sonya screamed in pain. Once the pain relievers went into effect, Sonya still felt the tension of the surgery, so she continued to scream and cry “Mama!” and “Dada!” I meanwhile, tried to hold her down with the help of another nurse to make sure the doctor was able to do his job. Several internal stitches and seven external stitches later, we were done. Sonya got her Thomas the Tank Engine stickers and we went home.

Sonya fell asleep in the Uber back to our apartment, and stayed asleep for a couple hours that afternoon. It wasn’t until she was in her crib asleep that the events of the day hit me, and I am still recovering. Sonya meanwhile, seems to be doing okay with her wound. She points at it from time to time, and says something that sounds like “bobo.” Today, I put a band-aid on her baby doll’s head, and told her that in one week, it would be all better – which is when we will go back to the surgeon to remove the stitches.

So it seems, that Sonya will need to go back to wearing headbands. Hopefully, they prevent her from removing her CIs and taking off like a mad person. I am also further baby-proofing our apartment…Would love to hear any other ideas on how parents kept baby’s CIs on during this toddler phase.