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Lilypie Kids birthday Ticker
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Frozen Terror
Sunrise in Mesick, MI
May 11, 2009

We are so very lucky. I know this. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that we're in the minority. Virtually everyone I know who has adopted has had to deal with far more than we've experienced. But just to keep us on our toes, we do get to experience something every now and then that I'm sure is adoption related. It's really a fine line between wanting to be aware of any issues that could be adoption related, but not wanting to over-analyze situations either.

Last week, we took a personal day on Friday and extended our three-day weekend into four. Monday was a Snow Day. Three snow days are built into our school calendar. They're placed in as three-day weekends in between Spring Break and the end of school. We used two days this year for actual snow days leaving us one spring three-day weekend. It's like a little bonus.

This weekend, besides being Mother's Day was also the 50th anniversary of the Mesick Mushroom Festival. Mesick is Jim's hometown. Its downtown is about 3 blocks long, and one of those blocks is the school. Mesick calls itself the Morel Mushroom Capital of the World, in case you were wondering where that was. There were a lot of activities planned, and we thought it would be fun to visit.

We made the four-hour drive Friday morning arriving in the afternoon. Jim set up camp, and then we headed to the carnival. Sera was not content to ride the kiddie rides; she insisted on riding the ferris wheel. We wandered around the carnival (another story to come on this event), eating really bad carnie food, and checking out the flea market before heading back to our campsite for a bonfire and s'mores.

The forecast showed rain coming around 11:00 pm and staying through Saturday evening. The lows for Saturday were forecasted to go into the low 30s. We agreed that was not optimal camping weather and had made reservations in Traverse City, about a 20-30 minute drive, for Saturday night at Great Wolf Lodge.

The rain came right on time and lasted all night, but had stopped by the time we woke. We dressed and headed to town for breakfast. Since the rain seemed to be taking a break, we decided to postpone heading to Traverse City until after the parade. The rain held off, and Sera got to enjoy her first parade. It was very tiny and perfect. Some of the noises were a bit overwhelming for her, so the intimate size was perfect. She was a big fan of having candy thrown her way, too.

After the parade, Sera fell asleep in the car, so we drove north of Traverse City and explored. We saw the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Sutton Bay, and some really cute little towns, one of which looked like it was still the year posted on the buildings, 1850. Finally, we headed to the lodge and checked in. Our time there is its own story.

Sunday afternoon saw us heading back to our campsite. We were quite relieved to see our tent still mostly standing. Two stakes had pulled loose from one side, but Jim quickly remedied that situation. Sera went down for her nap, and Jim and I enjoyed some quiet time by the fire that afternoon. He'd ordered three bundles of wood to get us through the night. I was surprised to see we had so much and was sure we'd be leaving some behind. But then it got cold. Surprisingly cold as the forecast had shown it would warm up on Sunday.

As the sun was near to setting, Jim added the last of the wood to the fire. I joked that it looked like we'd be turning in early as our fire wasn't going to last. Sera and I headed to the bathrooms to brush our teeth and make one last visit before getting ready for bed. She and I share one bed, and Jim takes the other. Jim puts two sleeping bags together for Sera and I to share, while he uses one. In retrospect, Sera and I should have shared one that night as we had far too much space inside. The night grew cold. Very, very cold.

Before I go on, I should give some background information. Sera does not like to be covered when she sleeps. She insists on her blankets in the car. She insists on being covered when she's put to bed. In fact, she'll sometimes ask for multiple blankets. But as soon as she's ready to actually sleep, she kicks them all off. During the winter, I make sure she's in heavy, fleece footie pajamas because I know she will not stay covered.

Our sleeping bags are rated for temps down to 20, so they are really very warm. Because it was so very cold, I was worried about Sera climbing out of the sleeping bag. She had snuggled in the crook of my arm, and I was making sure she was inside the bag. In her sleep, she'd struggle to get out, but I'd make sure she stayed covered. Of course, this meant I was not sleeping well, or at all.

Sera started whimpering and moving. The next thing I knew she was all out flailing and kicking the top of the sleeping bag away from her. I pulled it back and sat up thinking something was wrong. Sera sat up and was screaming. She was screaming about not having to go potty and something about diapers and wasn't really making sense. She kept yelling no when I'd ask her if she needed to go potty, or did she want a diaper. She was kicking me and hitting me trying to push me away. After a few horrible minutes, she collapsed, rolled to me, and snuggled in with her face in my neck shuddering as her sobs faded back to sleep.

This happened two more times. I finally realized during the third occurrance that she was having night terrors. She had never had them before, at least to my knowledge. I realized that she wasn't really awake and that what she was shouting out made no sense. She was screaming things like she wanted her tent or her campsite or chocolate milk. It was hard to figure out because it seemed like she was responding to what I said, but I realized she really wasn't.

By 6 am, I couldn't stand it anymore and braved climbing out of the sleeping bag to run to the bathroom. I jumped back into the warm sleeping bag and started to drift to sleep when Jim got up, took that beautiful photo, and started the van. He got the van warmed up and woke us up to climb in and get warm and get some breakfast. He took a sleeping Sera, while I got dressed.

We didn't want to wake her, so we stayed in the van until she woke at 8 am and got some breakfast. She was her usual happy self. I asked her if she remembered waking up during the night. She looked at me blankly. I then asked her if she remembered crying during the night, and she told me no. She had no memory of the three horrible events. She had stayed warm and toasty, so she didn't even remember it being cold while she slept.

I thought about it, and I really think it was the cold and having to sleep so covered in the sleeping bag that triggered these events. Sera is from one of the hottest provinces of China, but her village is in the mountains and is actually quite cold. We know that the orphanage is not well heated, and the children were bundled in many layers to keep warm. I think the combination of very cold temperatures and being covered with heavy flannel sleeping bags triggered memories that brought on her night terrors.

We've been home two nights and back on her routine. Everything is fine and back to normal. I could be wrong with my theory, but something deep inside tells me I'm right. These incidents serve to remind me that I don't want to overreact, but I must not be too complacent either. Sera's life before us does impact her. She does remember things, and it cannot be ignored nor erased. We have to respect her experiences and know they are part of her, too.

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Blogger Kiy said...

Magi and Jim,

We too experience night terrors. No fun, not at all. We have done a lot of reading on them, as I am sure you will after experiencing it. People who have never watched their child go through one really do not understand how horrible they are. But, they are only horrible for us - the child having them does not remember them at all, as you found out.

What we found out is that each child is different, they are usually from ages 2-6ish (although Emi's started *before* her first birthday). Also, what triggers them are different for each child. For Emi it's missing a nap. Not every time she misses one, but more often than not. So naptime here is sacred! Also, we found out that night terrors are hereditary and there is no cure. Lastly, not waking the child is best.

Sometimes Emi will wake from one, sometimes she won't. "They" say holding the child makes them worse, but there is no way I can not hold Emi during them. We have found that after a few minutes, standing her up tends to bring her out of it. Not sure if it's that or just time for the night terror to end, but it works for us.

Anyway, this got long. Yell if you want to chat.


P.S. Your trip sounds wonderful! Well, except for the camping part ... I tend to think camping is staying in a hotel. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jane has had a few of those too! It breaks my heart.

Blogger Tammie said...


I am so terribly sorry that you all had to go through these night terrors. Personally, I think your theory is correct.

Erin suffers night terrors also but very infrequently. My goddaughter OTOH goes through them too frequently.

Keep doing what you're doing.

Blogger Pug Mama said...

I think you are very right.
they remember, and I am sure that is what triggered her.

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