Wednesday, 13 October 2010

14 weeks old - Rufus goes cold turkey

As I have said before I was a fully paid up member of the "my child is not having a dummy" club. In fact I could probably have been its president, secretary and cleaner. But it didn't take me long before I excommunicated myself just to get some peace and a couple of hours sleep.

Although it pained me to see Rufus with a dummy in his mouth it did make life easier and a whole lot quieter. That was until we hit 14 weeks, when the little mister decided that it was not at all possible for him to sleep without the dummy in his mouth. For three nights Mr Jones and I were woken up every hour and a half to put the dummy back in. The first night we decided it was just a bit of post holiday unsettledness (I think I may have made that word up), on night two we thought he'd sort himself out and by night three we decide he was just taking the proverbial.

At 5.30am I lay in bed with Rufus screaming next to me - we'd been up every hour and a half through the night and everyone - including him - was knackered. He spat the dummy out again. I snatched it up and hurled it across our bedroom floor.

"Put the rest of them in the wheelie bin," I snapped at Mr Jones. "I've had enough - we're going cold turkey"

In the darkness I could see Mr Jones looking at me (well actually I couldn't because it was dark - but I could imagine the look on his face). "Are you sure?"

We'd discussed getting rid of the dummy before and chickened out because the thought was too terrifying. He needed it to stay calm, he needed it in the car, when he went to sleep, when he was in his pram, when he wanted to sleep in the sling.... it just seemed like too big a task.

"Yes I'm sure -that's it - it's more of a problem than it's worth. I'll deal with him."

I'd read about dummy dependence on a few forums the day before. I love a good forum - I'm a forum voyeur - I don't post - I just spy seedily on the sidelines, reading what everyone else has written. The vernacular confuses me (what is a DD?) and some of the advice makes me cringe in horror - but it's often good to know what other people are thinking/doing/going through.

One crazy woman spent three months getting up every hour and a half to replace her daughter's dummy and gleefully reported that by six months old the little girl could find it herself! I wasn't up for that. A lot of people had gone cold turkey in a fit of frustation and found that after a few days it was as if the dummy had never exisisted. No one had problems longer than a week - so we decided to go for it.

By 6.30am I'd managed to get him to sleep on the sofa with me sans dummy. There was a lot of screaming and much cuddling. I sternly talked to myself - "There is no going back on this now - if you give him a dummy after making him cry himself to sleep once then you've put him through that distress for absolutely nothing and you've got yourself back to square one. No, this is it, you're doing it and you'll just have to steal yourself to his crying."

At 7.30am I was frozen so I carried him upstairs and laid him in our bed - he didn't stir once and slept until 8.30am.

His first nap took some effort but within 20 minutes he was asleep. The same at his lunchtime nap. And in the afternoon he fell asleep in the sling on our walk with no fuss at all.

That night it took an hour for him to settle. We've tried really hard to always put him down awake in the hopes of teaching him to settle himself to sleep and I decided not to undo all of our hard work by cuddling him to sleep. I figured (rightly or wrongly - you be the judge of my evilness) that if he was going to cry about not having a dummy he might as well cry about being put down awake too - to save us all the stress of having to do it again later on.

I made up a bedtime song and sung and hummed it to him for an hour with my hand on his tummy until he finally went to sleep. At 11.30pm I did the same. At 1.30pm I fed him and he settled within 20 minutes and slept until 5.30am. Part of me wonders if the screaming was more about drowning out my tuneless singing than anything else - but it gave me something to focus on to pass the time.

Letting him cry wasn't easy - but it was actually really interesting. He makes so many different sounds - it's like a conversation. The hard distressed cry never lasts for long - a minute at the most. Then he starts making a rah, rah, rah, rah, shouting noise that sounds like he's telling you off. Then you get a few wahaaa whaaas, some hahahahahahas (not in a laughing way), then some whoooos, eeerrrrs, gheeeeeees, arghws, owwws and finally a big yawn and sleep.

The next morning he settled himself for his morning nap with just a bit of shouting. And he was a treasure all day. He was more alert, he was grabbing at toys and making an attempt to hold things. He seemed less stressed when he was feeding and he just seemed generally happier.

As the week went on he got better and better. He chatted more, slept better and ate well. And I turned into a bit of a smug mum. I was/am so chuffed that he no longer had a dummy and how well he's done without it. It might have been a coincidence and at 14 weeks he would suddenly have become more alert and relaxed anyway, but I truly think the dummy was holding him back and making him just sit there passively monging out and ignoring the world.

He is truly a little star. I'd say cold turkey is worth it - it was nowhere near the nightmare I'd imagined. And is certainly beats three months of no sleep.

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