For the first four weeks of her life, we rarely gave Harper a pacifier. We were worried that it would confuse her and she'd have trouble nursing. Once she was a firmly established eater, we introduced "pacis." We didn't use them all the time but they were especially great in the car, in restaurants, and in church. I remember nearly crying with joy the first time Harper reached down and put a paci in her mouth on her own.
By the time Harper was one, we had firmly established a loving relationship with a particular type of paci. Then we went to Harper's one-year check-up and the doctor suggested we (read: told us to) get rid of the pacis. The problem being that Harper went right to sleep when offered her paci, making very little fuss about going to bed or taking a nap. At that point I was just not ready to strip her of that comfort or myself of that guaranteed way to calm her. I reasoned that, at two years old, she might actually be able to understand giving up her pacis and it wouldn't seem like some cruel punishment. As a compromise, we limited paci use to Harper's crib only.
About six weeks before her second birthday we decided it really was time to give up the paci. Often Harper would wake up in the night and cry because she couldn't find it. Getting up, giving it to her, and going back to sleep was getting a little old. So I started to talk with her about her birthday. After much talking and prompting we developed a little exchange that went something like this:
Me: Harper, how old are you?
Me: Yes. And pretty soon it will be your birthday and we'll have a party. Then how old will you be?
Me: And when you are two will you be a baby or a big girl?
Harper: Big girl!
Me: And what are we going to do when you turn two?
Harper: Put pacis way, give to baby.
Me: That's right! Do big girls need pacis?
Me: Who uses pacis?
Me: That's right!
We did this so many times that eventually, when I asked Harper how old she was going to be, she would say, "Two. Pu pacis way, gif to baby!" All in one breath.
The morning of her second birthday we gleefully traipsed around the house collecting pacis and putting them in a paper bag, to give to a baby of course.
I was this close to calling a woman we know with an infant and asking if we could actually give them the pacis. I ended up stashing them in a closet. Yes, Harper was totally down with giving up the pacis. . .Until nap time.
Three days she went with no nap, instead screaming in her crib for her paci, the green paci! But we held firm. It took her a long time to fall asleep that first night, but sleep she did. And now naps are happening again, and bedtime is slowly getting easier, and I'm really proud that Matt and I didn't run for the bag of pacis during that first rocky afternoon.
Man, paci withdrawal is rough. But it is already paying off, as I don't have to get out of bed two or three times a night to find the paci and give it back to her. Instead, she just doesn't wake up, or she wakes up and is able to get back to sleep on her own.
So for those of you struggling with paci issues, and you know you're out there, don't fret. Someday you, too, will know life without the paci.