Friday, February 10, 2012

A Week in Pictures

Somehow it's Friday and it's too late to post a Wordless Wednesday picture. To make up for it, here are some pictures from the last week:

Super Bowl Sunday we were at a friend's house. Ellie couldn't get enough of this piano. I think I need to start looking for one, although she obviously needs to work on her hand position.

I found Ellie playing in her toy box.

Daddy's shirt.

And shoes and hat.

We went to the zoo last weekend because the weather has been incredible. We are excited to use our new membership pass and plan to go to the zoo often this year.

We went with Ellie's buddy, Violet. What kid doesn't love sitting on daddy's shoulders?


Ellie saw other kids taking their picture with this monkey and insisted she sit here and get a picture as well.

And, in case you aren't on Facebook and haven't heard our biggest news of the week:

Sunday, February 5, 2012


It's been four days since we stopped giving Ellie the pacifier for sleeping. The first two days were a bit rough, but every day since then has gotten easier. She might cry for a minute or two, but stops very quickly and then talks and laughs for a while, something she did with the pacifier. Tonight she started to whine as I put her down but was done before her bedroom door was closed.

I would deem this process a success, and a quick one at that. I'm relieved and glad it was relatively painless. The best part is that I don't have to wake up in the night to give her a pacifier! She's woken up a couple times for a brief few moments but we just let her self soothe and she's back to sleep within a few minutes.

On another note, we find out the gender of our baby on Wednesday. We are too impatient to wait until birth, and we can't wait to find out.

Is Ellie going to have a little brother or a little sister? We have our guess, what's yours?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Operation: Goodbye, Pacifier (Day 1 & 2)

Our naptime/bedtime routine includes reading books, singing a song, getting the pacifier out of Ellie's special box, and laying down in the crib. Sometimes Ellie will talk to herself or even laugh and squeal for several minutes before she falls asleep, other times we don't hear a peep from her and she's out cold for the next 12-13 hours.

This has been the routine for months. Until two days ago.

On Wednesday I skipped one small step: the pacifier. Even as I tried to sing to Ellie she knew something was amiss. She frantically looked around for her box and saw that it was missing from its usual perch on her bookshelf. It didn't take long for her to realize I wasn't giving it to her, and the crying began. I couldn't even finish the song so I simply laid her in her crib as the cries intensified and walked out of her room, chin high, determined to make this monumental step happen for both of us.

In retrospect I think I should have at least commented on the absence of her precious pacifier. My thinking was that she wouldn't understand (though I think she does), I can't reason with her, so I will simply not give it to her. But in the moment, I just did what I did.

She cried. Hard. Screamed her new-to-us stubborn toddler scream. I distracted myself by making a coffee. Working. She stopped crying after about five minutes and I all too quickly assumed that was the worst of it. But the cries returned. Hiccups and convulsions ensued. Eventually I caved in and went it to her room. I figured she was standing and that usually means she won't lay down on her own. I picked her up, rocked her, soothed her, let her cuddle with her blankie. She calmed down and was obviously very tired, but the moment I set her down the fits started again. I gave her more time and went in again. By this time I started crying myself. This was hard work. It felt as traumatic for me as it seemed for her. Why didn't I wait until the weekend to start this when Michael is home so he could be the strong one and I could walk away from the crying? I hate feeling so helpless and questioning every move I make as a mother.

After over a half an hour of this (I think I went in there twice) I went in one more time and just rocked her until she was basically asleep. In some ways I felt like I had failed because it seemed to defeat the purpose of no pacifier, if she needed me to soothe her. But, I was hoping that would be temporary and don't plan to make that a habit.

She slept for about 90 minutes and woke up crying, a sure sign that she didn't get enough sleep. Her naps usually last closer to three hours. Normally I could rush in, give her the pacifier and she'd be out again for another hour, although that hasn't been necessary for weeks. This time I knew I couldn't do that. I tried holding her hoping she'd be tired enough to fall back to sleep, but no. I put her back in the crib and she immediately started balling. In a moment of weakness I grabbed a pacifier hoping she'd go back to sleep but she shoved it away, reaching for me instead (a relief in a way, so I don't have to feel as guilty for giving in). Nap time was over.

Michael and I went on a date that night so we decided to let her have the pacifier at bedtime since she wasn't with us. Maybe we should have stayed home, but we went with this plan.

Day one, done.

Day two. I'd been dreading naptime yesterday because of how tough the first day was for both Ellie and me. I told myself maybe she's too young (like everyone else keeps telling me), maybe we need to wait until she can verbally understand what is happening. What's the big deal, anyway, it's not like she's in kindergarten and walking around with a pacifier in her mouth?

But, deep down I knew that since I started this, to go back now would make it even tougher later. It would show her that the crying and fits worked and I don't want to back pedal. And Ellie has always had a tendency to bounce back quickly from changes.

We were out and about in the morning so by the time we got home and ate lunch it was well past her normal nap time. This could be good because she could be tired, or bad if she's overtired.

We read our books. I sang her song. She was fine for most of the song than started signing "please" and pointing to her bookshelf, where her pacifier box was once again nowhere to be seen. This time I used my words. I told her, "no more pacifier. The pacifier is all gone," and I signed "all done." She signed "all done" back, and though she seemed a bit unhappy she also seemed to take my words to heart, as if she could accept the fact that the pacifier was simply gone. (This is the same sign I use to tell her that she can't have any more raisins, or another food. They're "all gone" and she understands that means she's done. She accepts it and moves on.) I finished my song. I put her down in the crib. She didn't throw a huge fit but she did start to cry a little. I left her room, my determination renewed and feeling a bit more hopeful.

I went to the kitchen and did the dishes. The neighbor was mowing the lawn so I couldn't hear Ellie, which I welcomed. She cried halfheartedly for a few minutes and then I heard her talking and laughing. This was night and day from day one. I will take her talking and laughing for hours over a few minutes of the intense crying and drama of the first day!

She talked and giggled and played. I went in once after a while and she laughed and squealed and jumped up and down. I laid her down and told her it was time to go to sleep, did the sign for "sleep," and left. (We've found that she will stay standing and playing endlessly unless we go in and lay her down and explain it's time to sleep. That usually puts her to sleep). She talked for a while longer and I noticed her sounds were getting quieter interspersed with silence.

An hour after I put her down, the talking seized and she was out. The relief flooded over me. It was so different from the first day's experience that I wanted to cry from joy and relief. Here's to hoping her nap goes back to her usual length of time. Even if it doesn't, yesterday's experience has given me hope.

We CAN do this. We CAN wean her from the pacifier. It might take several more days to get back to a routine, but I already see the light at the end of the tunnel, and yesterday was only the second day. Maybe it was a fluke, but I think this will work.

Last night we attempted bedtime with no pacifier. Fortunately for me, Michael was home. The experience was much more like day one. She cried and wailed and Michael eventually rocked her virtually to sleep. We felt like we had a newborn all over again.

We'd agree on 10 minutes before we'd go in. Then Michael would ask, "what time is it?" 7:45.

"Now what time is it?" 7:46. "Seriously?"

"What time is it now?" Still 7:46.

Yes, it reminded us of the newborn days again. (We didn't make it to ten minutes with her hard crying. We just couldn't do it. I think we waited 6).

Ellie woke up this morning a bit earlier than her usual time, which is already so late these days that I usually feel like I overslept. I can't complain.

Day 3 nap time, here we go.

My baby is growing up. Another part of her babyhood slipping away. Sigh.

Goodbye, Pacifier

Yesterday was the beginning of yet another phase of parenthood. I put Ellie down for her first nap without her pacifier. Why now, at 15 months? Well, there are several reasons.

The APA (American Academy of Pediatrics) actually encourages the use of pacifiers to infants one month and older. It's especially been studied for and seems to lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). We waited until Ellie was about 6 weeks old to give her a pacifier. I really wanted to establish nursing and we had several issues with breastfeeding so I didn't want a pacifier to interfere. At first she seemed indifferent but soon it seemed to help soothe her and comfort her.

The APA also recommends weaning babies off the pacifier by 12 months, but especially before age two because of the risk of dental problems it can cause. In my very informal polls on Facebook and among friends and family I have found most people seem to wean their babies around age 2, often even later. I can't think of anyone I know that weaned the pacifier this young. They either don't take the pacifier at all or keep it for quite a while. Michael and I talked about doing it around one year but life happens and we were both hesitant to disrupt Ellie's sleeping habits.

Ellie sleeps wonderfully and has since she was little. The only time she gets a pacifier is at naptime and bedtime. She has a little box that she knows her pacifier goes in immediately after getting out of her crib, and she has no problem putting it in her box. It's almost a game to her and she takes delight in placing it in her box after every sleep. We've used the pacifier occasionally in the car for long distances or while traveling on an airplane, but even then it seems to be more of a toy than a necessity for her.

Sometimes when Ellie wakes up in the middle of the night she needs her pacifier to help get her back to sleep. I usually pop out of bed, give her the pacifier, and she falls like a brick back to her mattress and is out like a flash. I'm out of bed for less than a minute. But, we don't want to encourage this habit and want her to be able to fall back asleep without the pacifier.

Another big reason we finally chose to start this weaning process is because we are thinking through all the upcoming changes in Ellie's life. In a few months she will have a new sibling to compete with for our attention. She will most likely transition to a toddler bed. We will begin potty training. And at some point in there we want to drop the pacifier. That's a lot for our little girl to handle in a short amount of time!

So, between the APA recommendations, not wanting to create bad habits, and the upcoming upheavals to Ellie's little world, we decided that it would be better to lose the pacifier now and give her plenty of transition time before her sibling arrives.

Some people suggest gradually taking it away at naps and then bedtime, but we know Ellie's personality enough to know that she will only get confused if she gets it sometimes and not others. We've gone cold turkey.

One of my hesitations has been that at 15 months she won't quite understand, whereas if she was a little older I could explain to her that it's gone. I keep second-guessing myself because I know for a lot of people she seems too young to worry about taking away her pacifier. At the same time, I don't think this is an easy process even if she were a bit older. My friends who weaned even at age two or later tell stories of crying and sleepless naps before the weaning is successful. In fact, I think I need to give her a bit more credit about being able to understand, which I learned today (more on that in the next post).

So, here goes another milestone in mommyhood. Wish me luck. Day one results coming very soon...