Friday, July 25, 2008
You might have guessed from the pictures already, but LP LOVES his pacifier. We gave him one when he was three days old, and it's his favorite thing ever. He simply needs it, which is even worse than loving it. I've always been taken by surprise by the negative association people sometimes have with blinkies, like they're just horrible things. I don't know, my take on it has always been: let babies be babies! I guess paci-bashing somehow falls into a broader parenting philosophy that was very prevalent here when I was a kid, and which I generally don't identify with (which included, among other things, letting babies cry out at a very young age and being so afraid of "spoiling them" that giving them affection was almost a crime, for god forbid, they could get used to it and want more). Of course I'm exaggerating here, but I still think that it was a very different game for the previous generation of parents, who were often taught that babies should be trained to be as "independent" as possible very early on.
Louis-Philippe never really seemed to develop a positive association with the breast, and I suppose that's why it's been so easy to wean him (when we got down to one daily feeding, I just stopped offering it one night and he never asked for it again). It might seem strange to say that, but my nursing experience has been both atypical, rocky and more often than not, stressful. I don't wanna go TMI here, but put simply, I had a very strong letdown reflex which meant that LP was always being choked with my milk, so more often than not he would cry, fuss, refuse to take the breast, etc... But as much as I was fed up with this complicated situation, he simultaneously categorically refuse to take the bottle, so I was pretty much in a dead end. I kept on breastfeeding full time until he started going to daycare, after which I had no choice but to skip the day feedings. This was a stressful period because he simply did not behave like everyone told me he would, i.e. accept the friggin' bottle after a day or two. Always a stubborn little dude, he went on without drinking anything but a few ounces a day for weeks and months. His weight progression dropped, never to the point where it was truly worrying, but still to the point where he needed to be monitored a little. Eventually, as he grew up, he drank a tiny bit more, started to eat like a pig and needed milk a little bit less, so things evened out. He's never been chubby and probably never will be but his weight is back up on the chart. He's still typically drinking very little liquid in a day but at one point I decided to stop worrying about it, and I now simply try to compensate with food (yogurt, cheese and ice cream for calcium, soup or watermelon for hydration...)
Anyhow, I digress. The positive association he never had with the breast, he very much developed with the pacifier. Even now, sucking on it seems to be so comforting for him, it breaks your heart. He could be in a total panic, but give him a just a little pacifier fix, and he half-closes his eyes in bliss and immediately calms down in a semi-altered state, junkie style. I suppose the urge to suck is different for each baby, and it's easy to feel smug as a parent if you managed to skip the blinkie stage altogether, but the truth is maybe your baby naturally just didn't have a strong sucking reflex, and frankly you didn't have anything to do with it. We were not surprised that LP became so dependent on his paci; it fit perfectly well with his top-of-the-charts sensitivity/intensity.
Everyone warned me that it would be difficult to wean him from it, and of course I know they're right, but really, as hard as it is, it will still have been 100% worth it. Thank you a thousand times, Avent pacifiers! In so many situations, I simply don't know what I would have done without you, to calm him down, reassure him, shut him up (not because I can't cope with my child chatting or crying, but rather in specific quiet situations like in museums, libraries or churches -we're not religious but this kid has been to so many weddings already, it's borderline ridiculous-), ease uncomfortable situations, etc.
But you know, it seems almost overnight, my outlook on it has begun to change. On the packages I buy, it says: "Up to 18 months." LP will reach that age next week, and suddenly wearing a pacifier all the time seems a bit odd, especially given that he's very tall and people who don't know him usually think he's much older. At the daycare, they already took it away from him (except for naps and when he's just hurt himself) months ago. He seems to cope well but he's so stimulated there with all the other kids and activities; at home, it's a different thing entirely. I've started trying to have him go for longer and longer stretches without it, with varying degrees of success.
It seems I keep hearing horror stories about kids who held on to their pacis for too long: delayed speech and speech therapy, crooked teeth, etc. Of course I don't want that to happen to him, but it's the emotional side of it that worries me the most. Because even though his blinkie obviously makes him feel so good, it's still a crutch and eventually I want him to be able to face difficult/unpleasant situations without any crutches. I was all for it as a baby because we're not in the '70s when apparently it was important to "toughen up" newborns, but he's not a baby anymore (gasp!) and he gradually has to learn that things are not always as he pleases, but that it's OK and he can go through it.
I'm not really sure what to do right now. I guess we don't have to take it away overnight, and if we could manage to reserve it for naps and bedtime, I wouldn't have a problem with it sticking for maybe another year or so. I go through days when I think he's becoming too big now, but then I keep postponing it, because there's always a good reason... I suppose (or just hope?) that it's all part of the process.