A New Day

I started to call this post A Rough Day. Much of the day was committed to Ethan’s first doctor visit since leaving Korea (he had just seen a doctor before being released to us on February 12). We wanted to get his medical record started here (in fact, we made today’s appointment before going to Korea).

Our visit with Dr. Allen Ettenger (Huntingdon, PA) was a real time investment, but a worthwhile one. We learned a lot.

Ethan weighed 21.7 pounds (in an earlier post, we said he weighed 24.3 pounds, but that was based on wrong information from the caseworker in Korea) and was nearly 30 inches long. Those numbers put him in the 70th percentile in the weight category and the 95th percentile in the length category. IOW, only 5% of boys his age are longer than he, and 30% of boys his age weigh more.

While we learned a lot today, it was also a painful day. Ethan received two vaccinations, one in each leg. He made his displeasure known throughout that part of the building (did we tell you he has strong lungs?!). BTW, Korea’s vaccines, unlike some nations, do not need to be repeated in the States, so we’re simply picking up where Korea left off (Ethan should be happy about that!).

We also just learned that Ethan had a flu shot in January, which may explain why he didn’t catch the flu from us this past weekend. Of all the things we want Ethan to “catch” from us, viruses are not one of them (i.e. important things, like character, are better caught than taught)!

If getting two shots wasn’t bad enough, we decided, with the doctor’s encouragement, to do a lead screening blood test (to establish a baseline), partly because we live in an old house that probably has lead (paint). We’ll have to make sure he doesn’t chew on the paint or pick up paint chips. This could be a real challenge, as he seems to put everything in his mouth.

A lead screening blood test involves drawing blood from the arm. It took two nurses to find a vein they could draw blood from (and, fortunately, the first time was successful!). It was rough — Joleen held him (including his other arm) from behind in a bear hug, one nurse held his arm still, and another nurse drew the blood from his arm. Since there was no room for me, I just watched and listened! 😯

As painful as all of that was, though, the amazing thing was how quickly Ethan recovered, especially from the blood test. As soon as the needle was removed, it was almost as if nothing had happened — although he was pretty emotional/clingy for the rest of the day.

So, yes, it was a rough day. But I’m calling this a new day, because we are making a transition from being reactive to being proactive with Ethan, especially with his sleeping schedule.

Up to this point (naturally, we think), it’s been about survival, which has meant that we’ve given Ethan whatever he’s needed/wanted. FWIW, I think we’re discovering that either, (1) he’s always gotten what he’s wanted, or (2) we look like gullible people. 😆

Dr. Ettenger recommended reading at least a couple chapters of Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems (by Richard Ferber) that deals with helping children develop new, healthy sleeping habits.

Obviously, we don’t have the book yet (we ordered it tonight), but we still began to be a little more proactive tonight. Rather than waiting for him to let us know when he was ready for bed, we were more intentional about our evening routine, starting at 10:00 (we’ll eventually bump this earlier, but for now, 10:00 pm is an improvement over 1:00 am, plus we’ve only been in the States about 6 days, so far).

10:00 — Play with Ethan on living room floor.
10:15 — In Ethan’s room, get him ready for bed, read a Bible story, pray, and give him his bottle.
11:00 — Ethan is asleep (for now!)

The goal (with the Ferber book’s help) will be to wean Ethan from going to sleep with the bottle (which is how his foster mother put him to sleep). We also want to help him learn to put himself to sleep in his crib, rather than us putting him in his crib after he’s fallen asleep (in Korea, he slept beside his foster mother on the floor/mattress, which may particially explain why he’s so fussy whenever he wakes up).

It’s a new day. And, it’s all part of the learning experience!

4 thoughts on “A New Day”

  1. The doctor visit sounded very typical and familiar to me having experienced such visits with my children and grandchildren. Your bedtime plans and changes should work and make things easier for all three of you. God bless all of you.

  2. Rebekah has a book called “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child”, or something like that. It worked wonders with Jordan… he is so much happier now…. actually goes to bed around 6:30 and sleeps until 5:30 in the morning. She has really stuck to the directions/suggestions given….I can hook you up with her if you’d like.

  3. Thanks!

    Last night went pretty well. Ethan woke up once. I got up, fed him, put him back to bed. He cried for up to 10 minutes before going back to sleep for the rest of the night.

    Today, Joleen had a good conversation with our caseworker, who has a lot of experience with Korean adoptions (including her own). We learned what tends to be the biggest challenges for (internationally) adopted babies: (1) New formula, (2) Car seat, and (3) Sleep schedule.

    We don’t expect a challenge with the formula change; we’ve been introducing new foods and Ethan seems to be pretty flexible that way. While he doesn’t like being placed (secured!) in a car seat, he’s fine once we get moving (the few times we traveled, so far).

    Sleep schedule is our main challenge. Tonight, we’re currently experiencing a setback. But we’ll regroup tomorrow.

  4. A quick update re: the “setback” I mentioned last night:

    We did have a rough time getting Ethan to sleep, but that may have been more from our lack of commitment to letting him go to sleep on his own, in spite of his crying. Either way, it’s all part of the process.

    When we finally placed him in his crib, and left the room, he was asleep within 3 minutes.

    During the night, I got up once when he was screaming, held him for a couple minutes, then put him back in his crib and left. He cried for a couple minutes, then went back to sleep.

    We haven’t gotten/read Ferber’s book yet, but the basic understanding is to teach the child to soothe himself (as opposed to relying on parent/bottle) and to learn to go to sleep on his own. Rather than simply letting the child cry himself to sleep (the myth of Ferber’s method), parents check on the crying baby periodically (although after a longer period of time each time, over the course of a few/several days, or however long it takes).

    For more on Ferber’s method, check out this article at BabyCenter.com:



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