When my daughter was fifteen months she was going through a small sleep regression. For a few nights she would stand in her crib and scream her head off. This was out of the ordinary, she has been the best sleeper since she was tiny and I like to think my husband and I had a lot to do with it. We set a good sleep foundation, We read the books and put it into practice. Some people think and literally say out loud directly to me… ‘You’re just lucky. Your next will be crazy’ Maybe you psychopath…but we worked hard at it too, and if you don’t give my husband and I credit for every good characteristic of my first born, you’re dead to us. We did this, haha. The work that I put into it, and her fairly relaxed demeanor has my bar high, and my patience low. If she takes more than ten minutes to fall asleep, I am sent into a spiral of anxiety. I am not complaining, I am just saying its made me weak. In my opinion, her routine is of utmost importance, my threshold for a shift in the routine is almost zero, and so far I haven’t had any issues. We rarely need to ‘go with the flow’ or keep her up past her bedtime. People say stuff like, “its nice if she can fall asleep anywhere.” People’s conjecture made me think having her on a strict routine was going to make me less flexible or cool. Her routine is what provides me freedom. Having my baby at a restaurant so I can finish a cocktail is not how I want to spend my free time and the truth is, I let her change my day to day, my entire life, and I love it. I’ve never needed her to sleep in an obscure location, and I’ve never thought, “damn.. I wish she could just sleep in that chair.” Leave the passing out in chairs to my husband on the nights she is with Grandma.
Anyway, for some reason during this sleep ‘regression’, I threw one of those pacifiers with the stuffed animal attached into her crib and she fell right asleep clenching that giraffe like it was all she fucking had and sucking that pacifier like Maggie Simpson. Perfect, that solved my immediate issue and I was back to my regular scheduled Bravo show. It was either a pacifier or I’d hold her until college. Those were the options as I saw them. From fifteen months on, the pacifier has been lovingly called, “Waffe” short for Giraffe in toddler dialect, and a staple in our home. A friend, a comfort item, her favorite thing. I constantly call it by the name she’s given it and walk around the house looking for “Raffe” or “Raffie” sounding like a fucking imbecile. Sort of like when adults refer to the bathroom as ‘potty.’ If I ever say that and a child isn’t present, smack me over the head with a bottle of UV Blue, and make me take a warm pull of it out of water bottle, because I AM NOT AN ADULT at that point.
She’ll be two next month, and before bed the other night I grabbed her pacifier and noticed she had bitten the tip almost completely off. Shit. This was a choking hazard. In that moment, I put my safety hat on and cut the tip off knowing this was going to be a shit show. I wasn’t ready for the tears and this was absolutely not a milestone either of us were ready for, emotionally. Societal pressure and the potential dental catastrophe sat in the back of my mind. She cannot have a pacifier anymore, now is the time. I only have enough bandwidth to mentally prepare for one set of braces. We aren’t going to be one of those families who has to do the whole set twice, not on my fucking watch and definitely not on my dime. I didn’t have time to explain, it was bed time, she was already over tired. Our usual nighttime routine commenced and continued through the tears, she would look look at her giraffe and chuck it across the room, then scream for it hoping her biggest fear wasn’t actually true. She sobbed in her crib for over thirty minutes and I walked in and picked her up. She sat in my lap and was calm, we read one more book and I placed her back in her crib upon her request. In the presence of others, she was fine. It was when she was alone with her thoughts that the heartbreak hit. After I turned the knob on her door, and walked out of her room, I grabbed my keys and yelled to my husband, “going to Target.” I pulled into the parking lot and ran into the store during a torrential downpour, walked to the baby aisle, grabbed a giraffe wubbanub, looked at the new Ulta section, picked up a Morphe eye pallet and left. I left the store with an easy out and a gift for me. When I came back home, she was still awake but silent, literally twiddling her thumbs. Eventually she fell asleep. I threw her her giraffe’s understudy, recently purchased from Target, into my closet hoping he didn’t need to steal the show during a 2am dramatic reenactment of a few hours prior.
The next morning, I was expecting a child who forgot. Forgot the heartbreak, forgot about her giraffe issues, and was ready for a new day. Instead I walked into her room, she rustled about, saw that I was in there, and sadly said, ‘waffe paci fall out’ trying to fight back tears. I told her Giraffe grows with her, and Giraffe knew she was ready for the pacifier to fall off. I explained that as we get bigger, things change and we have to let go so we can have lots of time for more fun things. We talked about other fun things she was going to do that day. As she started to cheer up, we left for daycare. She asked to bring her giraffe in the car and she held onto it the whole ride there. We arrived at daycare, she put it in the cup holder of her car seat and said, ‘bye bye waffe, paci fall off’ and asked me to pick her up. I walked her to the door and she gave me the biggest hug, her mood was solemn or maybe mine was and she was completely normal. I left daycare drop off a crying mess. Her emotion was something I’ve felt before, and watching her go through it was worse than I imagined. Her reaction was true sadness and no drama. I don’t stick my foot in my mouth about parenting, often. I didn’t have big claims of things i would *NEVER* do. I have a few, but nothing has blown my mind except for the emotional attachment I feel to her reasonable emotions. I always thought moms were crazy for feeling deeply saddened by literally nothing. The joke is on me.
My husband and I picked her up from daycare since we had plans after. I asked about her giraffe since I wanted an open line of communication and a sense of preparedness as we approached bedtime. Without missing a beat she said, “mom cut paci off,” not mad, not sad, just matter of fact. My sympathy immediately turned to defensiveness, “I cut it off and it probably saved your life, it was a choking hazard.” She went to bed that night, and didn’t give a shit about her giraffe.
There is no moral or theme here. I don’t have an uplifting message, I just felt like writing this story. But my parting words are as follows: Maybe my words got her through, maybe she decided distraction by daycare was the best medicine. Either my words or my checkbook, my husband and I are still responsible for impeccable coping mechanisms which is another great characteristic of my first born. We did that.