A part of Motherhood no one tells you about is that you are expected to pick a team. About pretty much everything. Are you Team-Baby-Led-Weaning? Team-Gina or Team-Baby-Whisperer? Team-Bottle or Team-Boob?
Cue dummy vs. thumb. The age old debate rages on. So pick a side.
Our household was no different. I had a dummy as a baby (& never sucked my thumb). You might say I was addicted to my dummy. But my parents were one of the lucky few; as a toddler, I simply chewed holes in them & lost interest. Job done. I therefore was willing to ‘risk’ giving Baby Girl a dummy. I felt that if she sucked her thumb, we couldn’t take it away if needs be. In a nutshell; “You see 12 year olds sucking their thumbs. You don’t see 12 year olds with dummies.”
The Other Half, however, was passionately against dummies. His parents had never even owned one when he was a baby & he also never sucked his thumb. “You hear of these parents who are slaves to the dummy & then comes the day she loses it, or we forget it. And then there’s a shit fit. She can’t forget her thumb.”
And then, at about two months old, Baby Girl discovered her own thumb. And the decision was made for us. As soon as she was tired, she found her thumb, closed her eyes & if placed in the Moses basket, on the whole, would drift off to the land of nod. She was even sleeping through the night by ten weeks. Neither of us could believe our luck.
At around four months, everything changed. We don’t know (& probably never will) if it was the infamous Four Months Sleep Regression, Leap 4, the fact we went on holiday, the fact she moved into her cot in the nursery or just really crappy luck. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, she suddenly lost interest in her thumb. She started feeding at 2am again & often was unable to go back to sleep. It was like having a newborn again – only for us, worse. She even found day time naps a struggle.
After a few weeks, my mom was visiting for the day. I was exhausted & at a loss. Would I ever sleep again? Would I ever get my lovely, calm, smiley baby back? She finally persuaded me to try the dummy. It was like a breath of fresh air. Within minutes, Baby Girl was asleep. She napped, properly, for the first time in weeks.
That night, the Other Half & I had a calm but heated debate. But in the end, he stepped back saying, “you’re the one up in the night & who’s with her all day. So if this is what you need to do to maintain your sanity, then so be it.”
We never looked back. She was able to self settle (again), & having been able to rest she was happier when she was awake. Though she continued to wake throughout the night she quickly dropped the 2am feed once again in exchange for her dummy & occasionally a quick sip of water.
And then came teething. Baby Girl started early signs of teething at only 9 weeks. By four or five months old we were in full swing, her first two teeth coming through days before she was six months old. Suddenly, the dummy wasn’t a soother but a chew toy, the perfect size for little hands to play with. Sucking on it seemed to only cause her pain (apparently it’s common for babies to go off their feeds while teething as sucking hurts their gums). And so the sleepless nights returned, the self-soothing diminished. And slowly but surely, despite our best efforts, she lost interest in the dummy of her own accord altogether.
So now, at 7.5 months old, we’ve given up & are dummy free. Teething is a bitch. Lactose intolerance has caused her more wind & pain than I can keep track of. In the last few months I have slept less than when she was a newborn. But slowly we’re coming out the other side.
The silver lining? We don’t have to worry about weaning her off her beloved dummy. As usual, Baby Girl is calling the shots & doing things her own way. Her independence makes me proud. But a little bit of co-operation wouldn’t go amiss…