Thursday, 12 March 2015

Motherhood: Ditching the Dummy

When our daughter was born, she had a dummy (pacifier). It really helped with her reflux and helped to settle her. The dummy always fell out about a minute after she fell asleep, and at four months old she swapped it out for her thumb and has never looked back.

With our son, the journey has been quite different. He didn't really want the dummy in the first place, we had to persevere to get him to accept it, because it really helped his silent reflux. but once he'd gotten used to it, he definitely was never going to swap it out for his thumb.

At eight months it was something he wanted, but it wasn't actually helping him to sleep. He'd accept it off me, and then look at me like "you weren't expecting me to pass out were you?". He'd wake when it fell out and need to be resettled.

And worse, I'd started giving it to him when he got a bit cranky.... literally shutting him up, rather than taking the time to work out what the problem was. So the dummy had to go.

We decided to take the direct route, just take it away. From all the books I read, at eight months, they can't remember things for very long, and so they can't hold a grudge. Three hard days and we should be through it.

We bit the bullet at the weekend so Gary was around for our little girl, as I expected it to take forever, and off we went. I was so surprised, he barely even seemed to miss it. A bit of singing of "Row row row your boat" and a bit of tapping on the bum and off to sleep he went.

I really was patting myself on the back and congratulating myself on a job well done. And then it all went wrong... as it always does when you attribute too much weight to your actions!

The snotty nose and wet cough both the kids have had for weeks turned into an ear infection for him. A mild one, but an ear infection all the same. Then he started teething, he had cheeks so red it looked like he had borrowed my blusher, and kept spitting up with all the extra drool. Then the stomach bug hit. All in the seven days after I took the dummy away.

There were so many times when I considered giving in and just returning it. I don't think he was particularly looking for the dummy, but he was looking for comfort, and it felt like everything had gone wrong so fast that he hadn't really had time to find out how to comfort himself properly without it.

In the end I persevered. We got through the spitting up, the vomiting, and we just kept going. Eventually I realised it was more me looking for ways to comfort him, when I felt rather helpless, rather than him looking for ways to comfort himself. He seemed to be more than happy with a cuddle and some milk. 

One Month On:

Sometimes life really does throw you a curveball. A month on, and the dummy is back (although in limited supply). Although we seemed to be moving past the reflux issues, and one tooth had made it's appearance, nap time and bedtime was becoming a massive battle. 

I had assumed that if he really needed to suck on something to help him transition to sleep, he would find his fingers or his thumb and would use those instead, that was what my daughter did. I was wrong, really wrong. 

He kept taking the bottle in order to suck, but didn't want the milk, so would arch his back and spit out mouthfuls of milk. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. Trying to put him to bed without that was torture. 

It culminated in 45 minutes of screaming before a nap. I had had enough. I got the dummy out from it's hiding place, and in 15 seconds he was asleep, and he slept longer than he has for a nap in a long time. 

It hasn't been a perfect solution. He can only be given it at the very end, for that last minute before he falls asleep, or he'll pull it out of his mouth and play with it, or hum because he likes the sound it makes.... I'm not joking. 

So he needs it for now, but only in very specific circumstances. I can't just plug it in and he'll close his eyes and crash out to sleep. But it has mean't that I haven't returned to old habits. 

I don't take it out of his bedroom, it is there solely for sleep, and I don't need to use it to shut him up (I don't think that would work now anyway). So I'm not overusing it, and he's not given the opportunity to look for it every time he is a little bit unsettled. 

It's not the answer I was looking for, and it's really hard to come on here and admit defeat. But at the end of the day, if he really needs it (and I think a month was long enough to test the theory) then he can have it. It doesn't seem to affect his nighttime sleep really, and the challenges we are having there seem to be to do with his transition onto solids and his size (he's huge!). 

So we are where we are, and I'm not sure when we'll try to remove the dummy again, but I'm sure the right opportunity will present itself. After all, I still had one at night when I went to school, and I don't use it now, so one day we'll be able to remove it.