I hadn’t planned on saying good-bye so soon.
In fact I was quite happy with how things were going.
And then, just like that-we had no choice but to part ways.
Yes, dear paci I’m talking about you.
I will admit to the world that I was that Mom. The one who checks in on her child before going to sleep every night. It’s actually one of my favorite times because Helen looks so sweet+innocent, completely passed out and asleep. It’s like every bad thing she had committed that day immediately is erased when I see her in those moments. I recover her up, give her a kiss and often times put the paci back in her mouth if it’s fallen out. Or sometimes if she’s sleeping with her mouth closed, I’ll just put it in her hand for her to easily find upon waking. Amidst my efforts, it always seemed that at least once a night she would wake up stirring and could not find it. Leaving me to race across the hall and give her one of three that are idly waiting on her nightstand-just in case a moment like this should arise. I feared that if I acted too slowly she might really wake up. And no one wants to have an awake toddler at 2 AM. This became the viscous cycle that repeated itself every night, but I really didn’t seem to think it was a problem or plan to change it. And on a good night, it didn’t even happen.
But alas, while I’m spending most of my early morning’s awake with Halle that final straw moment became glaringly clear to me a few nights ago. I woke up to hear noises in the monitor, but this time from Helen and not Halle-at 2 AM. I could see that she was putting her two pacifiers (because I had put a new one in her mouth before I went to bed!) back and forth, in and out of her mouth. She was clearly awake and playing with her paci’s aka TOYS. I watched a bit longer. She then would put one back behind her head and search around with her hand to “find it!” Then putting it happily into her mouth. I went in and took one of the paci’s away, but she continued to stir until FIVE AM. Yes, you read that right. This was my blatant cue that it was no longer good for her (to not get a continuous night of sleep) or myself.
Of course, Hubs was gone on a week long business trip in another state, and I had to tackle this one on my own. I kind of thought I might be crazy at this point to go up against something so big all by myself, but knew that I just couldn’t wait any longer. I really needed him there for moral support, and to keep me strong-but onward we pressed.
It was one of our lazy days and I hadn’t planned leaving the house, but I knew I needed some good ol’ fashioned bribery. We went to the mall and I purchased a “big girl lovey” and book to give her during the first sleep without paci (which happened to be nap that day). I somehow managed to distract her while I bought these, and back home we went. Definitely with a pit in my stomach, because I was honestly nervous about taking the paci away from her. How would she react? Would she be completely heartbroken? Would she ever sleep again? I couldn’t quite picture what was to come…
And finally, nap time came. I had placed the lovey+book under her pillow and removed ALL pacis from the premises. I followed her up the stairs to
doom her room and she ran ahead to pick out her paci. It’s always a toss up between “tars” (stars) or “zig zag” in which I try to sway her to go with the chevron option, because it always looks best with her outfit I stayed a bit behind, and she came running back out looking at me very confused, but said nothing. I proceeded as normal-turning on her monitor, sound machine, changing diaper, etc. Then I told her that I had a big surprise for her. I explained that she was such a BIG GIRL now and how now she would have a “lovey”. She looked under her pillow as I directed and was very excited. After the thrill of lovey had died down, I told her to look under the pillow again and she found her book. We read it a few times and then I made my exit.
As I walked out she cried, because the realization that I wasn’t going to give her the final piece of her sleep-time puzzle finally hit. Her sincere cry turned into a fussy cry. Then she just started talking and was completely restless. I went in a few times, trying to redirect her to sleep. It took her over an hour and a half to finally crash. I was just glad she took a nap, period. I wasn’t sure that sleep would ever come after all of what I had just witnessed. But what was to happen after nap, I had not quite prepared for. Waking UP. That seems to be the biggest hurdle so far.
Before, during life with paci, she would wake up proudly sucking on it in her mouth-you could see it in the monitor bobbing up and down…a familiar sight from the past two years…and after another diaper change would go “put it away”. All on her terms. Stowed away for safe keeping until they would meet at bed time. But this time when she woke up, she quickly realized it was still gone and that did not make her happy. She immediately began to wail and the sobs grew until she could barely breath. I hate that kind of crying. It’s so painful to watch. I tried everything to calm her. Milk, “shows”, markers, crackers-shoot even the iPhone didn’t interest her. This went on for quite some time. I just held her as we mourned. I kept praying that God would heal her poor little broken heart.
She finally was able to move on, but this gave me great fear for bedtime after seeing how bad this had just been. Luckily though, to my surprise she did better. She never asked for it and didn’t even cry. I did put her to bed later than normal and let her keep her new book in bed. She must have flipped through that book fifty times. It was almost like she was trying to distract herself from the obvious. An hour or so after she fell asleep, I went in and recovered her+kissed her, but this time things looked different of course. I closed up the book that had been her distraction, and put it back with the others. Looking back on her, she appeared even bigger this time. I almost wanted to give her the paci back at that moment not for her, but selfishly for me-to keep her as a baby just a bit longer.
Her time going down for nap and bed has gradually decreased, and I think she’s figuring out how to fall asleep without the help from paci-but it’s still taking time. I also gave her this book, the second night and she calls it her “prise” (surprise). It too has been a crutch, as she reads through it each night many times, but I’m OK with something like a book helping settle her down. She has continued to wake up wimpering and a bit disgruntled over the fact that P is gone-but overall it’s been a good transition. Her wake up time has also been earlier, because I’m guessing the paci soothed her back to sleep before. She has never really spoken of the event and I don’t either. But it’s probably best, because she’s still really too young to have a conversation that makes any sense to her. I do think she understands somewhat though, because she has now coined the lovey as “big girl lovey” and proudly showed it to Daddy upon his return.
I’m guessing things will go back to normal soon, slowly-but as they say surely. This is just another bump in our road. But one I won’t soon forget. You never think when they are days old that popping something seemingly so innocent into their mouth (out of sheer desperation to soothe them) can become such a patterned part of your day. A familiar face. From the first set of shots at the doctor, the first tooth popping through, the first hurt feelings to the first plane ride-that trusty thing has been there all along the way.
Sweet girl, just know that Mommy was sad too and that I’ve never been more proud of you. And this is just a silly paci. Imagine all that you are about to accomplish as you grow. Your ability to leave something so special+cherished behind, so easily, truly amazes me and says a lot about your character. Who you’re shaping up to be. The girl and woman you will someday become.
Here we go…the best is yet to come.
(My friend also wrote a blog post about her daughter getting rid of the paci-which is worth a read if you’re about to embark/or going through this too!)