Sleep, Tantrums, Communication, and Our New Normal

We've had Judah and Addise for 7 weeks as of today. Hard to imagine what life was like without them. They are unmistakeably Diaz's. We are unmistakeably a family [however when we are in public I sometimes think that other people think I'm their nanny].

The past 7 weeks have been filled with one transition and adjustment after another. We're starting to find our new normal - after the first few weeks of straight up survival mode and travel recovery followed by 2+ weeks with family's helping hands. Now we are exploring what "normal" life looks like for our family of four, especially including going back to work. Each week that goes by we see progress in our kiddos and that's exceptionally encouraging, but it's still really hard and we have to discipline ourselves not to wistfully dream about when things will get easier.

The two things that have been most difficult have been sleep and communication. Brian puts Addise to sleep for every nap and bedtime. It takes him 20-30 minutes to feed her bottle and rock her to sleep before laying her into her crib. So, he's spending 60-90 minutes every day rocking our baby girl. Yes, he loves it, but we're beginning to get tired and long for those minutes to be used for things like work.

Judah's been difficult with sleep ever since we've been home. Scratch that - he's great going to sleep for his afternoon nap, but bedtime is brutal for all of us. He has progressed from thrashing and screaming to simply taking FOREVER to fall asleep. He doesn't cry when we're rocking him or even when he's laying in his pack 'n play at the foot of our bed, but he whimpers and cries if we stop touching his back or try to leave the room. Last night it took us nearly 2 hours to get him to sleep. It's crazy hard. All Brian and I long for at the end of the day is a few hours alone together. Then, in the middle of the night, both kids are still fairly regularly waking up. Sometimes it's only for 5-10 minutes, other nights it's for closer to an hour. We feel like zombies on those nights and morning comes too soon. Judah's internal body clock wakes him up at 5:59am almost every morning. It's bizarre and maddening. He typically hangs in bed with us until 7:30am, but that time is usually filled with babbling, rolling around, and occasional kicking. Our son is a morning person and his parents are not. Conflict of interests.

Judah's also dealing with [or we are dealing with] tantrums several times a day. Most of the time the tantrums come when he doesn't get his way, needs a little love, needs some protein...or for no apparent reason. His tantrums aren't long or wailing, but they are repetitive and whiny enough to wear us out over time. I also think that his tantrums are directly linked to how well he's sleeping.

The biggest thing that we know will change things is communication. It's easy to temporarily forget that we speak 2 different languages. Literally. Our social worker said that it will take Judah up to 4-6 months to get caught up on language [loosing his Amharic, understanding English, and speaking at as he should for his age]. This is really the most frustrating thing for all of us! Judah whines and points to things sometimes and we just can't figure out what he's trying to say or ask for. We constantly feel like we're parenting: banana or orange? up? go outside? that's mommy's. come here, Judah. gentle buddy. It's like we're in language class with a 2 year old every day who's experiencing loss and transition on top of being a terrible 2.

No wonder we're tired.

Really though, at the end of the day [like right now as I sit in our kitchen and Brian's attempting to put Judah to sleep after 47 minutes of persistence] we adore our Judah and Addise. I don't even need to say that! They make us laugh all day. They are great eaters. They love each other as evidenced by near french kissing every day. They dance and giggle and learn new words every day. Addise is bravely attempting walking. We are in love. But there are at least two sides to every story and we are adjusting to our new normal.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, sheโ€™s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.