By: Heather Somaini
The first time we tried to quiet one of our crying and screaming babies was only a few days after the twins were born. Up until that point, they had done the usual crying that babies do when they’re hungry or wet or need to be burped but it’s all child’s play until something really goes wrong.
Izzy had stopped eating at the hospital and they ran an x-ray to see if she had an intestinal blockage. They started before I had arrived at the hospital that day and my wife immediately sent me to the nursery to find out what was going on. When I arrived, a nurse was holding Izzy down while a technician took the x-ray. Izzy was screaming her head off – or at least as much as a two-day-old can scream. The nurse holding her looked at me and said “Well, she’s a fighter. You know that much for sure!”
They wrapped her back up and handed her to me. I was dumbfounded. What in the world was I supposed to do with this tiny, screaming baby? The nurse handed me a pacifier and we worked to see if it would help in calming Izzy down. It partially worked for a little while.
I know a lot of parents really struggle over the whole pacifier “thing”. Should you use them? If so, for how long? How do you get rid of them once they seem to have over-stayed their welcome? The Next Family’s Editor-in-Chief recently got creative in convincing her 3-year-old that the pacifier needed to go to the Obe Fairy and in its place her daughter got a fish. I say do whatever it takes, no judgment here! If your kid needs a fish in exchange for a pacifier, I’m all for it.
We were lucky. Both of our twins rejected their pacifiers a number of months in. We would put them down to sleep with the pacifier and it would wind up in the crib later. Eventually it became a bit of a joke because our son especially, would just spit it back out if we gave the pacifier to him. We chose to not look that gift horse in the mouth and move on. They clearly didn’t need or want them anymore.
But soon after that, our nanny started telling us that Izzy was sucking her thumb. We didn’t believe it at first. I mean we never saw it. How could it be possible? We kept watching and watching. Nothing. The nanny would send us fuzzy pictures taken on her cell phone trying to prove that she was right. It was like the search for the Loch Ness Monster. All we got were anecdotal stories of thumb sucking and grainy still photographs that looked like she was picking her nose. We wanted to believe her but we needed proof.
One day she finally got her proof. The picture was still a little grainy but one thing was clear as day: Izzy was a thumb sucker. Thumb sucking at three months is cute and sweet and adorable. She could put herself to sleep anytime she wanted and we could never lose her thumb….at least I think we couldn’t.
Izzy is still a thumb sucker. It’s a problem. Her teeth have adjusted because of it and her speech may be affected by it too. Although taking a pacifier away from a 3-year-old might be difficult, getting a 4-year-old to stop sucking her thumb is impossible. It’s always there and it NEVER gets lost. And that poor thumb… it’s so sad. It’s actually wider than her other one and it’s ALWAYS white and waterlogged. And it smells. Badly. She knows it too. We all run screaming when she sticks it toward us. Being touched by it is simply wrong.
The thumb-sucking does have one big advantage: we always know how Izzy feels. Izzy is very sensitive and can get upset easily. It’s her “go to” when she’s nervous or disappointed. When the thumb goes in her mouth, we know for sure that something has gone terribly wrong and it’s our cue to try and help her through her tough spot.
We’re working on dislodging the thumb from her mouth but I fear it’s a losing battle. I’m sure as time passes her interest in it will wane. But for now, it’s in there working its magic.