Guest post by Denise Beeman Sasiain, foster mother to Summer, 17, who will stay with her foster family as she enters adulthood; Isabella Hope, 3, who they’ve had since birth and adopted last year; Xavier (aka X-man), 2, who they are in the process of adopting; and Daniella Joy, 1, who they’ve also had from birth and recently adopted.
It is just past midnight and Isabella, our 3 year old, has woken up three times since we put her to bed. Instantly upon waking, she will loudly cry, then call mommy, and come running in a panic. Each time she gets up, I hold her, rock her and tell her, “You are safe, you are secure, you are loved and you are mommy’s dream come true.” She nods her head sleepily, and I tuck her back in bed. Some nights she sleeps uninterrupted and peaceful, but tonight has been particularly challenging and her fear level is palpable.
Isabella’s inability to readily fall asleep and stay asleep is not a new development. She was exposed to cocaine and prescription opioids while she was in her mother’s womb. In addition to going through withdrawal as a newborn, she would sometimes sleep only three or four hours in total during a 24-hour period. She experienced jittery and suffering tremors, poor feeding, stiff muscles, a very high startle response and colic.
When Izzie was about 15 months old, she started occupational therapy. Evaluations showed she had significant sensory motor dysfunction in both tactile and auditory processing arenas. She also displayed chronic feeding sensitivities and a slight fine motor delay. At about 18 months, she started speech therapy for her language delays.
Izzie improved quickly in regards to fine motor skill development, but it took a longer time for her to catch up in regards to the intelligibility and development of her speech. But this last spring, at 3 ½ years old, she had a princess tea party with her speech pathologist, celebrating her graduation from speech therapy.
However, things like the texture of food is a still a significant challenge and major deterrent to her eating. Isabella raises the bar in regards to the term “picky eater.” There are only a very few foods which she will consume. Her occupation therapist worked with her consistently during a two-month period before she was willing to eat a banana.
Her auditory processing abilities are still a challenge – ordinary things like running a vacuum cleaner or a blender make her extremely agitated. We have learned to be prepared for the inevitable triggers and volume-reducing earmuffs have made a huge difference. At our recent trip to the Magic Kingdom at Disney, the high volume hand dryers in the restrooms sent her into a major panic and tantrum. When we go to a performance like the Nutcracker ballet or a Disney show, we plan ahead which parent will more than likely spend the duration of it out in the lobby.
In the big scheme of things, if Izzie doesn’t like loud dance clubs as a young adult, we as parents won’t be too upset! But we are hopeful that her tactile and auditory sensory motor challenges, as well as her sleep issues, will continue to improve. She is now average in height and weight and thriving. Her day school teachers rave about her, saying, “If only all our students were like Isabella.” In all respects, now at 3 1/2 years old, she is happy, outgoing, intelligent, warm-hearted and funny. As parents, we could not be happier and prouder. In every way, she is our dream come true baby girl. In recognition of our hope-fulfilled adoption in May of 2012, we named her Isabella Hope Sasiain.
As with all our children, we educate ourselves on their particular challenges, procure the healthiest amount of positive intervention possible, expect a miraculous outcome, but prepare ourselves if the end result falls short of our hopeful expectations. Moreover, life has taught us to embrace our shortfalls and weaknesses, especially when the outcome is not within our control. Our weaknesses can make us stronger.
If you or someone you know are pregnant, or may become pregnant, and are taking prescription pain medication, visit www.BornDrugFreeFL.com or call 1-877-233-5656 for information and resources.
“Success is determined not by whether or not you face obstacles, but by your reaction to them. And if you look at these obstacles as a containing fence, they become your excuse for failure. If you look at them as a hurdle, each one strengthens you for the next.”
― Ben Carson, Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story