The one item in your rapidly accumulating pile of most-used baby gear that you are guaranteed to develop an intense love/hate relationship with. They are wonderful a gift from God Himself as a reward for bravely growing a human being, enduring the madness of labor and childbirth, and loving your little bundle of screams through endless nights of teething, wakefulness, and plain grumpified grumpiness to the nth degree. They are also a curse the bane of your very existence.
Nathan used to be addicted to his pacifier. It started in the hospital, which in my own experience, seems to be the case with most of my baby-related woes. Don’t get me wrong, the pacifier was great. GREAT.
It solved all of life’s problems with one single suck.
Nathan would be having a total meltdown and all Paul and I needed to do was give him his beloved paci and Nathan would be content for three more minutes. Three more minutes might not sound like much, but in the land of the sleep deprived, those precious three minutes were gold. Every single second of extra sleep counted.
Nathan, about 7 weeks old, loves his pacifier
The pacifier was also, on the other hand, the worst possible thing that could have happened to us.
LORD HAVE MERCY if we lost the pacifier.
Nathan had one that was his favorite; the green one given to us by the hospital with a shield so giant, it covered half of Nathan’s face. He loved the damn thing.
There were times, however, when I thought about throwing it into a shredder then melting it into a FLOATING GLOB OF MUCUS IN A VAT OF HYDROCHLORIC ACID. Because if I could melt it into a FLOATING GLOB OF MUCUS, then Nathan wouldn’t depend on it so much. I kept attempting to explain to him that material things shouldn’t be what make us happy, but seeing as he’d only been in this world for less than two months, he didn’t care. His paci made him happy, and that’s what he wanted. I had to squelch all urges to destroy the thing… my son’s happiness is what mattered. There have been many times when Nathan screamed for his paci and my husband and I scrambled around like madmen searching frantically for it.
“Where’d you put it last?” He’d bark at me.
“I didn’t have it last, you did!” I’d bark back.
“No, you did!” He’d say.
“Well, if I did then God help us because it’s probably in a bluejay’s nest resting on a rotten log that floated down the creek from a runoff during the last storm three weeks ago.” Yeah, that kind of stuff really happens to me. I lose things and I later, sometimes years later, find them in the most unusual of places.
While we’re bickering back and forth about who to blame for the MIA pacifier, we usually find it somewhere obvious like on the coffee table or on the counter top. There were even times we found Nathan sitting on it. Inevitably, a flood of relief would overcome us.
Blessed, blessed pacifier.
But the minutes, and sometimes hours, when the pacifier was MIA were like living in a nightmare. Everything would occur in slow motion… we couldn’t do anything fast enough. We couldn’t shake out the couch cushions violently enough, lift up furniture quick enough, or dig through diaper bags or my purse thoroughly enough. Enough wasn’t good enough. We were on a mission. We always found the paci eventually, and Nathan always stopped crying… eventually.
Until one day, he decided he didn’t want the paci anymore.
That’s right. Nathan, the little guy who loved his paci more than kicking socks off his feet, didn’t want it any more. He had found something much more soothing, something he has access to 24/7, something he can never lose or ruin.
He loves them much more than his paci. As do I. Fingers do not fall on the floor and need to be washed. Fingers can not be thrown in a fit of squealing anger. Fingers can find their way to his mouth, unlike a paci. When the little guy is really upset, it doesn’t take long until his fingers, like heat-seeking missiles, land in his mouth, instantly calming him. They are also teaching him about pain associated with biting… he bit down on them once, yelped in pain, and then pulled his fingers out of his mouth and studied them quizzically.
“That’s how Mommy feels when you bite her” I told him. He has bitten me a time or two while nursing and when I yelped in pain, he’d actually laughed. “It’s not funny, is it, little guy?” I said as he slowly opened and closed his fist, a look of bewilderment coming over him. He looked up at me curiously, studying my face as if he were diligently trying to understand what I was saying. He’s not bitten himself since then.
He still bites me.
But at least he doesn’t laugh diabolically after he does it anymore. I’m pretty sure that now when he bites down, it’s because he’s simply not paying attention.
So the pacifier was both a Godsend and a curse for us; it was a great way to soothe Nathan when he was unsoothable, but I was worried he would become too dependent on it for comfort. Fortunately, his addiction to his paci was short-lived. His fingers have been a much better substitute. Now, the downside to that is later down the road, I can’t just take his fingers away like I can with the paci when I want him to learn other ways to soothe himself. I debated using the pacifier as a handsucker proxy to wean him off his fingers, but then he’d be back on the paci again. I think I’ll just let sleeping dogs lie. If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it.