When I found out I was pregnant with Busby back in 2012, I had a very long list of things I thought I would never do as a parent. A large number of items on said list went out of the window as soon as she entered the world, but there was one thing I was absolutely resolute about not giving into – and that was giving her a dummy. As it transpired, she never needed one anyway, and she was never a thumbsucker either; Flopsy Bunny is where she gets her comfort.
But then H-Bear arrived.
Regular readers will know that H-Bear is not the biggest fan of sleep (understatement), and my copious posts about chronic sleep deprivation are a not-so subtle nod to what our lives have been like for the past (almost) 11 months. We have tried so many different ways to get him to sleep… and to get him to remain asleep, but due to factors such as his silent reflux and his various allergies, not to mention the expected sleep-barriers such as teething, nothing has had much effect.
A couple of people mentioned trying him with a dummy, but my determined, stubborn self batted away their suggestions with contempt.
However, 10 months in with only one full night of sleep under the proverbial belt and I was feeling desperate.
So I began to question my dummy dislike. I mean, why did I hate them so much?
I think it boils down to the fact that they look fairly hideous. I have memories of important figures in my life berating the dummy when I was younger: “Oh doesn’t it look disgusting?!” etc. So I grew up thinking that they were indeed an unnecessary evil in the land of parenthood, and that they were associated with being a ‘not very good parent’ (as one sees it in simple terms before you actually become a parent, and then you realise that we’re all winging it!). I didn’t want to be a ‘not very good parent’, so therefore dummies weren’t coming anywhere near my children.
End of debate.
But then I was walking around the supermarket one hazy, sleep-deprived Thursday, close to tears after another awful night, when I said “Screw it! I’ll give anything a go!” and headed to the baby aisle. The shopping experience was one akin to buying condoms for the first time; I didn’t have a clue where to begin as there were so many different types, and I felt slightly judged and a little sullied making my purchase. Which is ludicrous because I went through the self-service checkout.
H-Bear looked perplexed when I offered him a dummy for the first time, but a big smile crossed his face when he began sucking, and I knew I’d made the right decision. I still wasn’t happy with this big piece of plastic taking up his face, but when he gave us two nights of sleep in a row I was more than ready to swallow my pride on the matter.
I’ve since been researching why the dummy might be helping H-Bear, and have discovered that the production of saliva lowers the pH in the stomach, and the constant sucking assists in preventing babies refluxing and being woken up, so it’s actually helping him.
I still struggle a little with the presence of the dummy, and tried to remove it for most photos when we were in Italy as it’s not something I want featuring in the family photo album, but I now accept that it’s doing a world of good, and using one doesn’t make me a bad parent in the slightest. In fact, in a way, it’s made me a better one.