So really, this post is overdue - about a week and a bit now. And it's one of those posts I should have written while we were experiencing it. But oh well, here we are - a week and a bit later. I cannot just forget it and not write it - for this is a momentous time for Lily Wong - she is no longer a baby - she has given up her pacifier.
Let me begin by saying that I have been a big fan of the book Baby 411. In this book Dr. Brown suggests using a pacifier, but stopping it when your baby reaches 4 months. Because at that point she can learn to soothe herself. At the time that I read it, it sounded like good, sensible advice. Our problem: we were flying to Hawaii with Lily when she was 7 months old. And we really really didn't want to attempt a 12+ hour travel experience without the pacifier in our back pocket. So really it was more about our comfort than Lily's.
Our Hawaii trip came and went and around that time we transitioned Lily to only using the pacifier to sleep - just for nap times and bedtime. And honestly, it was pretty great. Lily has always been a good sleeper, but I think that the pacifier was a big help here as well. So the weeks and months ticked by and it never seemed like a good time to say goodbye to our friend. Honestly, I was terrified to do it. We have this spectacular magical sleeping baby - why mess with THAT? We had a kid who clamored to get INTO her crib at night, who put herself to bed when with a baby-sitter. Can you blame us?
Finally, right around the 16-month mark, Mimi decided to stop using the pacifier for naps at daycare. It took all of two days. The first day she let her take a bottle of milk with her and that was pretty much that. I swear day care is magic somehow. Upon hearing this news we decided to try at home too that weekend. It did not go well. She cried so hard she was hyper-ventilating and I just couldn't take it. I was weak and not yet ready for this. So we went on as usual at home, even though the pacifier was still a thing of the past at day care.
Then things started changing at home a little bit. Tantrums started happening - more often and for pretty much any little thing. One day we had a tantrum at the end of a day care day because I wouldn't carry her from the car to the elevator (it's literally a distance of like 20 feet) when we got home. She was so distraught when we finally got into the apartment that she asked to go into her crib. That's when I realized that she was relying on the pacifier to calm herself and it seemed like a step backwards. So Gordon and I talked about it, set our resolve and decided we had reached the "right time".
On Wednesday of that week (about two weeks ago), we started talking to Lily about this plan of ours. We told her that she is a big girl now and that pacifiers are for babies. We told her that on Friday she would be saying good bye to hers. At first she seemed cool with this, she'd even give it over to us right then. But if we tried to leave the room with it - well not so much. We repeated this song and dance on Thursday. Friday morning came and we woke her up and told her to put the pacifier in a bag and say "bye bye" to it. She did. Then went about her day like normal.
Nap time came at 1PM and went surprisingly "OK". She cried steadily for about 15 minutes, but then slowed down and was asleep by 1:25. She then slept until 4PM. I was encouraged by this result and thought night time would be similar. Sadly, it was a bit more traumatic. The night started out OK. She took a little while settling down, but it wasn't too bad. We gave her Baby Tad (remind me to write my "ode to Baby Tad" post one of these days), her favorite blanket, some extra stuffed animals and a sippy up to fill the void. One thing that totally took us by surprise was the sophisticated nature of her debate. As we're getting ready to leave her room for the night she looks at us and very clearly says "Lily baby", while gesturing for her pacifier. OK kid, just rip out my heart and step on it, please. There's nothing like telling your 18-month old that she's a "big girl" and having her insist, "no Mom, I'm still a baby now GIMME THAT PACIFIER!" Gordon and I were hovering between "uh, if you came up with that on your own you're definitely NOT a baby, nice try" and "YES YOU ARE OUR BABY AND ALWAYS WILL BE - HERE ARE TEN PACIFIERS!!" We looked at each other for support and left her to fall asleep for the night without her pacifier for the first time.
Surprisingly she did pretty well - it was much like the earlier nap. It got difficult however, about 2.5 hours later when she woke up for the first time and dind't have her trusty pacifier to help her get back to sleep. We went in to her a couple of times, but ultimately had to leave her to work it out on her own. It was arguably one of the hardest things we've had to do so far. My memory is fading, but I think she was up for a good 1/2 hour this time and it was a HARD 1/2 hour. The cries of "baby, baby, Lily baby" coming from the monitor were just heart-breaking.
But it did get better, as we were assured it would. Friday night she had a couple of additional wake-ups, but each time only took a little comforting to get back to sleep. Remember, up to this point we've been VERY SPOILED on the sleep front, so the smallest disturbance feels traumatic to us. Saturday night she went to sleep with no problem at all, had another tough wake-up at midnight, and then was fine the rest of the night. Sunday was a little dicey going to bed, but then all was quiet the rest of the evening. And now, nearly two weeks later, it's like there was never a pacifier to begin with - amazing.
She still likes to tease us about how she's a baby and NOT a big girl, but she does it with a smile on her face and then insists on drinking from a regular cup and NOT a sippy. So I think it's her way of being cheeky. She's even modified it a bit to saying "baby-yo" instead of just baby. We're not really sure why, it might have to do with Gordon teaching her to say "yo yo" and cross her arms all rapper-like. Bedtime takes a little more effort now and some nights she's got her entire collection of stuffed animals in there with her. But all and all it's been a nice smooth transition. We're so proud of our big/little girl!