Friday, 24 April 2015

The Dummy Fairy

I was like a lot of first time mums when we started our parenting journey. I was totally convinced that I would breast feed, I wouldn't create bad sleep habits by rocking her to sleep or driving around at 2am like a zombie, and above all else, I would never, under any circumstances, let her use a dummy. They're bad for their teeth and speech development, don't you know.

Funny how once you're actually in "it" ("it" being the almost unnerving land of parenthood) all of those defiant personal beliefs fly out of the window..... in a flash.

After hours of ear splitting screaming and agonising writhing when the dummy works why wouldn't I make both of our lives easier? Actually, why wouldn't I make the lives of our entire household, including the cat's, plus our neighbours' lives a little easier?

The dummy made sense for me and my baby. Little Lena was bottle fed because she couldn't latch. This meant that she couldn't blithely suckle away for comfort like the babies of those exhausted and amazing breast feeding mothers. She also had the most horrendous reflux. The sucking provided great relief for her not only because it was distracting but the additional saliva also eased the acid burn that plagued her throat.

We were lucky that the reflux only lasted until she was fully weaned. I thought about removing the dummy then but it suddenly morphed into the most amazing sleep cue. We've never really struggled with nap times or bedtimes because her bunny and dummy were a clear sign post of what was to come.

I do know, however, that at 2.5 years old she should be perfectly happy without one. She uses it only for bedtime and yet it's still a worry for me that she will suddenly wake up in the morning and have morphed into a ginger Bugs Bunny overnight. I realise that this is wildly imaginative but my brain is pretty bizarre.

I wanted to wait until I could reason with her before I even approached the task of removing the dummy. Call me lazy (or vaguely living in fear of my expressive little red head) but I felt that if I waited until she was receptive and negotiable I could nail the removal of the crutch swifter and with many less tears than if I started too early.

In reality we could have done this earlier but I have been pretty out of it this whole pregnancy. Just getting everyone through the day in one piece felt like a whopper of an achievement.

Anyway, here we are. Battle number one. Giving up the dummy.

In all honesty this was surprisingly easy. Eerily easy. I could put it down to the timing, or the age, or my amazing parenting. To be honest, I'm giving all of the credit to this fabulous book - Bea Gives Up Her Dummy, by Jenny Album.

I read this book for about a week at every nap and bed time. It soon became her absolute favourite. Yes, it does help whenever the main character also has red hair.

In short it follows a little girl giving up her dummy to the fairies, who then uses it for every day purposes, like umbrellas, in fairy land... of course. Bea pops it under her pillow one night and the fairy takes it away, leaving a little gift by way of thanks.

Helping Lena to understand that this fiction was about to become her reality we asked her what the dummy fairy would leave her if she came to take her dummies. She proudly, and loudly, declared that her present from the fairy would be a pink rabbit. So, the hunt began for a wonderful bunny.

On "Operation Dummy Removal Day," we read the book, put her dummies in a brown envelope and placed this outside of her bedroom door. She was asleep within ten minutes, without a fight, keen for morning to come so that she could play with her new toy.

In the morning we woke to mini elephant footsteps as she ran to the bedroom door and asked us to open it so that she could see her wrapped present on the other side. I don't think anyone has ever been so thrilled to receive a jellycat bunny before. The best moment for me, was when she had torn all of the wrapping off and she ran straight to the window to shout thank you to the fairies..... Heart. Melt.

That was over two weeks ago now. Every bedtime has been serene since, in terms of the dummy that is. Doing bedtime with two and calling it serene is just naive!

Dummy: Nil
Super awesome parenting skills: 1
..... just don't mention potty training and I'll ride this wave of achievement for a while longer, thank you very much.

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