Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Pacifier

Picture this . . . Thanksgiving 2011. Lunch for the kids has just ended and a very tired Dancing Queen begs to take her nap. Then it hits us: we forgot a pacifier!

All hell broke loose.  DQ was inconsolable, screaming, crying, full-fledged melt down/tantrum.

Could this be a teaching moment? Would we end the addiction? We weren't about to give in to a child screaming at us.

I chose to do the only logical thing--left the Mad Scientist with DQ and made a mad dash to the closest drug store

And as my husband smashed his head against the wall calmed DQ down and determined if she had repented enough to earn a pacifier, I was lost, trying to determine which pacifier would be best for my tired girl.

I got in line behind a grandpa. We chatted as we waited for the clerk to ring up lotto tickets down the way. After 5 minutes of no movement, I asked the clerk whether we were in the correct line. The grandpa offered for me to go ahead since I was trying to alleviate my daughter.

As we continued to wait some more, the grandpa regaled the story of his young grandson and how he was so old when he finally gave up the pacifier. Then, he went where all well-meaning people go. He told me how there just gets to be a point when a child cannot have a pacifier any longer.

Then he asked how old my daughter was. I told him 3.5.

His demeanor immediately changed. He scolded "Well, you have to get her off of it. Put a piece of spice paper on it one time and she'll never go back. You've got to break her of it."

I explained that my daughter is sick and the only thing that calms her down in the hospital or at blood draws is the pacifier.

He pushed on, set in his way, and I let him.  The fight wasn't worth it and I had just paid for the pacifier.

I'm okay with it. I'm okay that he felt compelled to force his opinions on me. (Heck, I used to be that person who'd frown upon seeing a child who could walk with a binky in their mouth.)  I know people have strong opinions about it.  And I'm okay with those opinions not comporting with me reality.

I'm also very much okay with the fact that my daughter still uses a pacifier at 3.5. I saw why the day of her cath. She was in pain, in a strange place, with strangers all around her. She needed one thing that was a comfort and normal. Her pacifier is that for her. Yes, she has "pets" that she sleeps with at night,  stuffed Lightening McQueen and Elmo, but those she can sleep without. The pacifier is the calm.

DQ in the hospital waiting.
When DQ has an echocardiogram done, she is extremely well-behaved. We've been told over and over again that DQ is one of the best behaved kids they have during those exams. The only reason is because she knows she gets her pacifier.

The fact is, I want her to have something that makes her happy so that when she is being hurt by strangers, she can concentrate on her happy place. Her happy place just happens to be sucking on plastic.

My 3.5 year old has had her ribs spread apart and chest opened three times, her heart has been sliced and diced twice, she has had seven heart catheterizations, three of which had "complications", she had another surgery to correct a defect unrelated to her heart, and lots and lots of procedures under anesthesia with a breathing tube.  My sweet little preschooler usually has her blood drawn at least once a month. She has been averaging two shots every two weeks. She gets x-rays monthly, echocardiograms every four months, abdominal ultrasounds every four months, hospital stays frequently, and IVs often. She wears a nasal cannula, taped to her face, pumping oxygen in her nose every night, she takes 10 medications a day on average, and she doesn't really complain about any of it. The only thing she asks for is a pacifier to suck on when times get hard.  I don't think its too much to ask.

Besides, no matter how much she loves the pacifier, she's not going to go off to college sucking on one at night!
DQ leaving the hospital, after multiple blood draws, echo,  xrays, and lots of doctors.


  1. I'm with you. Besides, imho, a pacifier is much better than thumb sucking. You can take a pacifier away. You can't take a thumb away. I knew kids in high school that still sucked their thumbs! I couldn't break TFL of his bottle completely until he was four. He *HAD* to have a bottle of water in order to go to sleep. Period. Unless the pacifier is causing her to have other problems (like the way her teeth are growing) I wouldn't worry about it.

  2. Our oldest son loved his pacifier. When he was a year old, I took it out of his mouth after his nap and placed it on his chest saying "I don't think you need this any more but, if you do, just ask". He never asked. Our youngest refused the pacifier from the start. This leads me to my darling niece. H. treasured her pacifier for many years. Once, when she was about three and visiting us, we forgot her "pacie". We were not parents at the time and didn't know what to do. We ended up going to Target and buying several pacifiers for her to "test". I honestly think she depended on them until shortly before kindergarten. It didn't keep her from having perfect teeth, graduating from medical school and becoming a successful surgeon!!


  3. Our little ones needs something to comfort them and I don't think many well-meaning people understand. Hope has always sucked on her two fingers and I really hope that will stop before she goes to college. She also has a stuffed animal and a blankie that are with her almost all the time. Comfort items are important to all kids, but especially for ours that have to go through so much.

  4. I agree with you dear friend. The kiddos like ours need those extra comforts. The pacifier was actually encouraged for a very long time with Logan to help keep his airway open. His was and always has been very positional and given the issues he had they wanted to make sure he didn't have any issues.

    Everyone has opinions on everything. I just let them roll off my back and focus on what is best for my child....not what is best for the person holidng the opinion. You are doing a great job! {{{HUG}}}

  5. I am impressed you didn't throat punch that old man. Shoot, even for the most minor medical procedures (shots, breathing treatments, etc.) I would do ANYTHING to have my child be comforted. If the pacifier works - so. be. it. I don't judge you AT ALL.

    (And this is coming from a person who is decidedly anti-pacifier.)

  6. As with everything, the "norm" and "what's best" are really just guidelines.

    You know what's best for DQ and, not that you need anyone else's approval, but I think you are absolutely correct to do whatever it takes to help her deal with strange, scary and hurtful things.

    I would say though, that I would not permit her take up smoking or drinking. You do have to draw the line somewhere. :)

  7. I don't know why people think this is any of their business!

    Our kid stopped taking a paci at 6 months. Just quit accepting it. Do you know how hard it was to get him to calm down after a meltdown without something to pop in his mouth?

    Dum Dums work now, but I'd rather give him a bit of plastic to suck on than sugar on a stick.

    I'm glad she has a bit of comfort during trying times.

  8. I couldn't agree with you more. If they need it for comfort then they need it for comfort and as you said, she won't be using it in college. I wrote a similar post about this not too long ago.

  9. Why do people feel the need to judge?? You weren't asking him to suck a paci or buy it!


Having a child with a CHD is like being given an extra sense---the true ability to appreciate life. Each breath, each hug, each meal is a blessing when you've watched your child live off a ventilator, trapped in an ICU bed, being fed through a tube. Each minute is a miracle when you've watched your child almost die and come back to you.
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