When pregnant, I signed up for the Babies R Us Registry at the local store. I was treated to their reusable goodie bag which came with a cloth bib, a bottle, and the binky/nuk/pacifier that would, in part, define the first 24+ months of my child’s life.
She was less than 48 hours old when we first gave it a try. I was layed up for 6 days at the hospital as the result of a drawn out labor that ultimately ended in a c-section, a botched epidural that lead to a spinal fluid leak, and two blood patch procedures to try to correct what the attendee administering my epidural had unwittingly caused (that is worthy of another blog post entirely). I was exhausted. Baby daddy was exhausted. My milk production wasn’t keeping up with my happy, healthy, seemingly orally fixated newborn’s appetite. I had tucked said pacifier into my hospital bag as I was preparing for the big day, though I hadn’t given great thought to using it. I was more concerned with how I was going to breastfeed 100% and not use formula and all of these other perfect plan ideals that went out the window once the reality of motherhood and its imperfections set in.
She took to it right away, that little MAM pacifier with the cute bunny rabbit embossed on the mouthpiece. We tried to keep its use in the hospital discreet, as most of the nurses – and lactation consultants most definitely – did not condone it. We were reassured when one of our pediatricians came to visit, noted her voracious appetite and near continuous rooting and basically told us that it was “okay” to use a pacifier on occasion if we needed a suckling break! Consider that the permission slip that we’d fall back to until February 2017! Well, maybe not quite that long, but that’s when we finally curbed her addiction.
I’m not sure which one of us helped foster the nuk dependency most. I suppose all 3 of us drove the frequency of its use at different times. Crying in the car? Have a nuk. Crying at bedtime? Where’s that binky? Looking to self – soothe? Gimme that pacifier!
As I look back through photos of my child on my phone, social media, and the laborious photo books created on Shutterfly, seeing the series of pacifiers we went through brings mixed feelings. Nostalgia, memories of frustration, memories of the younger version of my child, and ultimately relief to know we’ve moved past that particular chapter.
The beginning of the end of the pacifier began long before the true end came to be. It started at Grandma’s house, like many things seemed to (first steps being one!). As my daughter began to speak a broader vocabulary, Grandma just couldn’t stand the slobbery, incomprehensible speech that resulted when the little one spoke with the nuk in her mouth. So the nuk became banned in her presence. Our tot knew Grandma was law about this, and before long she would thrust the pacifier into mom or dad’s hands upon getting to Grandma’s house.
With us parents, the pattern didn’t change so quickly. Being on opposite schedules with her, we just weren’t really on the same page about giving it up. I’d get her from Grandma’s and not offer or bring up the pacifier unless the situation “warranted” it. But her father was the one waking up with her and on duty to pluck it from her waking mouth and endure a potential tantrum.
Some days went more smoothly than others. As pacifiers became worn or lost, we didn’t replace them. We attempted to stay on target with only offering them at nap or bedtime. I bought Bye Bye Binky by Maria van Lieshout (find it here: http://a.co/6t4gkXW ) as an empowering read to share with her, in hopes that we’d be done with the bink by her second birthday. We overshot that by a few weeks.
What ultimately happened wasn’t what I preferred, but certainly put a sense of finality to them. One morning the tantrum about handing over the pacifier went on a tad too long and passed her father’s threshold of patience. He threw the remaining pacifiers in the trash. She was devastated, but it passed after a handful of rough days. The rough moments were mostly at times of sleepiness or realizing the absence of it.
We are now over 10 months pacifier free. Talk is lighthearted with my child as we look at old pictures of her with it in her mouth, attached to her clothes by a clip . She now fully embraces the big kid logic behind giving it up. She knows she doesn’t need it anymore.
Given the trials and tribulations of introducing the pacifier and eventually having to kick the habit, one might wonder whether I’d go the pacifier route with a subsequent child. Truth be told, I probably would. But I’d definitely approach the duration and frequency of its use differently.