[Other possible titles for this blog included ‘Feeling like the worlds worst mother’, ‘Epic parenting fail’, ‘breaking the baby’ and ‘Has anyone seen my sanity?’]
So Dangermouse, she, like a gerzillion other babies, has a dummy. I have to be entirely honest, I’m not a fan of seeing peachy little cherub faces with a coloured chunk of plastic in. I don’t want to be judgmental about it, I don’t want to cause a tidal wave of debate, I’m just being wholeheartedly open on the matter.
However much I may not like seeing a baby with a dummy in its mouth, particularly my baby, I equally didn’t relish being sucked on 24-7, nor hearing a screaming baby all evening, after a full on day coping with two.
Tigs had a dummy for a little while, at night to settle her to sleep. But she became a thumb sucker at around 8 weeks old, and once she found her new comfort, she never looked twice at the dummy again. It couldn’t have worked out more perfectly really, as she stopped sucking her thumb on her own at 20 months.
The day I decided Baby-G was having a dummy, was the day I nipped to Bluewater to grab some essential shopping (no shopping is non essential with a tiny baby), and visited 5 different feeding rooms in one hour, then went home empty handed in tears. She just would not settle unless on the boob. It was breaking me. The dummy was quite life changing, and our evenings went from 4 hours of screaming / feeding / vomiting cycles to a peaceful haven. We didn’t look back.
Fast forward 12 months…
This time last week, we had a particularly bad night doing the ‘dummy run’ approximately 137 times in one night. It broke me, and in a stand of desperation, I convinced Mr G that this was the time to go cold turkey on the damn thing. She’s been waking often at night and seemed to be getting slowly worse and worse – I was convinced this sleep prop was doing more harm than good, and we assured ourselves things couldn’t possibly get any worse. It was worth a shot.
So, night 1, we tucked dangermouse up in bed after her milk, gave her her favourite snuggle bunny, said goodnight and left the room. She normally loves going to bed, but as expected she kicked up a fuss. We explained to her sister she was learning to go to sleep without her ‘numnums’ so she might cry a bit tonight, but to (please) stay in bed if she wakes you up (she did by the way, Angel!).
Unbelievably, she cried for 20 minutes then fell asleep, until 1 a.m. We popped back in the room, gave her the raggy bunny back and she went straight back off, until 4.30 a.m. It’s probably key to the story to explain this was clocks going back night. Not our brightest idea…Potentially she may have gone back off with her dummy, but we took the night as a roaring success and decided we would take the early start as a win. Best night sleep we had had in ages (seriously, things had been bad!).
Continuing the cold turkey through the day wasn’t too bad…naptime she cried for 5 minutes, and we smugly thought we had cracked it. Should have done this months ago I thought to myself.
Night two didn’t go quite so well. She didn’t settle well going to bed, and we were frantically googling how to deal with the situation. Controlled crying? Three day nanny styling it out? Go in and give her a god damn cuddle? We were a bit all over the place and in all honesty, did a bit of everything.
The night was pretty horrendous. She woke throughout the night, each time getting more worked up, and at one point screamed her head off for nearly an hour. Remembering the previous night we felt we had to persevere, and she eventually crashed out, before waking up, very miserable again at 4.30. “It’s really 5.30” we reassured ourselves.
As Mr G was at work, I struggled to get our usually amazing napper to snooze for more than 10 minutes during the day. She was clingy, teary, and not herself. We got through another bad, bad night and in all honesty I was seriously starting to question if we had done the right thing. I felt that dread of the night ahead creeping in as dusk settled, knowing it wasn’t going to be a good one. And – guess what? It really wasn’t. We were all exhausted and patience with each other was wearing thin. Mr G had a full on week at work, and was struggling to concentrate so I urged him to kip on the sofa, wearing the trusty old ear defenders which we bought as a joke fathers day present, as a result of Tigs ongoing night cough. We attempted a controlled crying approach, but couldn’t resist going in to try and calm her down – which set off a fresh set of screams and inability to settle.
The girls and I limped through a third day, but I started to wonder if little one was teething – she really was struggling massively. I tried her with some Calpol, and we persevered. She also had a slight temperature and was just not herself.
When Mr G got home that night, we had the talk. We admitted defeat, and agreed that she wasn’t dealing with this – we all needed some rest – with her at the top of the list. She’d been suffering with a cold, as so many kids do this time of year, but as the days had gone on it seemed to have got worse. Was that husky cry a sore throat? Or a result of all the screaming? Feeling partly relieved and partly disappointed, we popped that little bit of plastic in her mouth, and our world seemed to regain some calm normality once more.
Expecting a ‘peaceful’ night of soothing her with a dummy pop-in, we were surprised to find she was still standing, screaming in her cot – throwing the dummy back at us in a state of protest.
As I intervened the screams that night, cuddling my little one, something kicked me in the stomach with a thud. I believe it’s called mothers instinct. This wasn’t a cry of wanting a dummy, this was a cry of needing comfort. She seemed in pain, and settled as soon as she was in my arms. I vowed that whatever the morning brought I’d get her checked out at the doctors the next day.
It seems trusting in instinct was right – she had a chest infection and was prescribed antibiotics. Plus, we later spotted the white of her two front teeth cutting through. Probably why she was waking up so many times this time last week…
Yep, feeling pretty much like the worlds worst mother this week. I got it wrong. (Sorry, we got it wrong).
But, we tried to do the right thing, didn’t we?
Either way, we certainly paid for it. But poor little Dangermouse, she must have had a traumatic week. We also seem to have gone 180 degrees on our initial objective, as now she’s been so sad she has had that dummy in her mouth constantly, soothing her whilst she’s not well.
We will try again to ditch the dummy. But next time we’ll be 100% sure that she is 100% up to it.
We will sleep again, one day. Won’t we?
Have you managed to wean your childs dummy successfully? When and how did you do it? Please tell me!