Friday, June 17, 2016

Parenting by Instinct: Choosing Safety

This week, my daughter bit through two pacifiers within an hour. I was buying appropriate pacifiers for her age, so I knew it wasn't the quality; she had built up a habit of chewing on them as much as sucking. This presented a problem. She clearly was still deriving comfort from them, but they had now become a danger. If she bit a piece off during the night and I wasn't able to hear her choking... well, I didn't even want to consider that idea.

I am a huge fan of pacifiers, in general. Despite my wanting to avoid them after she was born, it became clear that she only nursed when she wanted sustenance. She also doesn't like her hands to be dirty or wet, so she wouldn't suck her thumb or fingers. After three months of trying every alternative, I finally offered her a pacifier, and she was a different baby. Although still fussy and generally irritable (which I now think was a combination of being over-heated and not wearing 100% cotton), she was much more happy.

As she passed a year old, I tried gradually weaning off with no success. She would fuss and cry if one wasn't always available, and I didn't have the time or energy to fight with her (I was in the first trimester of my second pregnancy and incredibly sick and exhausted). I decided I would let her quit on her own.

That decision went out the window, this week. Clearly, pacifiers had become a hazard instead of a help, and that wasn't something I or my husband were willing to chance (or pay for. New pacifiers almost every day? I don't think so). After some research and thinking about my daughter's personality, as well as thinking about my failed attempt, I decided our best bet was to stop cold turkey. We asked our daughter to throw her pacifier in the trash (she only had one left, at this point), and we told her she wouldn't have one, anymore. She was neutral on the subject... until nap time. Then, my goodness, the sobs and cries of "where'd it go?" were heartbreaking. I do not like it when my little one cries and I could possibly stop those tears, but I knew there could be no giving in. As a matter of safety, the pacifiers had to go.

We're still in the midst of this trial, and a huge part of me hates watching my daughter grieve this comfort she has enjoyed. Sometimes the right decisions in parenting don't feel right in the moment. We have to battle through, loving our children by saying "no" when we desperately want - when it would be easier - to say yes.