Well, it’s been over two weeks now, so I feel safe in saying this: LJ is done with a pacifier.
I feel like it’d be hard to emphasize how much of a big deal this is without a lot of exclamations points and capital letters, so I’ll try not to make this post look like an excited middle school girl wrote it, but just know in my head, I’m shouting for joy from the rooftops!
LJ’s love for the pacifier started on day 3 of life when he was admitted to the NICU and the nurses there gave him one. I wasn’t anti-pacifier by any means, but I also wasn’t planning on introducing it that quickly so I had mixed feelings when I walked into the room and saw he had one. If I’m being honest, I was very emotional and overwhelmed at the time – my 25 hour delivery ended in a c-section, my son had to go to the NICU for antibiotics for 7 days (my placenta got an infection because my water had been broken for over 24 hours), nothing was as I expected it to be. I was so hormonal and honestly felt very guilty that I wasn’t with LJ 24/7 and hated that he cried so I was okay with him having this small measure of comfort.
He honestly loved the pacifier from the beginning. He has always taken it super well and it has always been a huge source of soothing comfort to him, so we just let it happen. It was so helpful in getting him to sleep, staying content during long car rides, etc. and we loved it just as much as he did. It never interfered with my ability to breastfeed and he still was able to take a bottle when needed as well.
When he turned one, our pediatrician gently suggested we consider thinking about when we’d like to get rid of the pacifier. Justin and I thought we would address it “soon,” but it was still such a huge help on car trips and at night time that we didn’t make it a huge priority.
Then LJ turned 18 months, and it felt like the right time to wean him. We started slowly reducing its use and eventually he was down to just using his wubbanub affectionately named Edgar (we’ve been through “Gigi” the giraffe and “Patrick” the puppy as well – for us they last about 6 months and then break off because they’re used so much!) at naps and bedtime. LJ was leaving him in the crib and saying goodbye to him when he woke up and we thought “great, we’re almost there!”
Then, his little sister was born.
Oh my, did we see a BIG regression here. First of all, Vi had her own little wubbanub now (a hedgehog we so creatively named…Hedgie) and LJ was all sorts of curious/jealous of that. He loves to steal Hedgie and put it in his own mouth. He’d see hers and it would remind him of his, so he’d run up to his room and grab Edgar. He went from only needing Edgar at nights, to wanting a pacifier almost full-time again and all the other pacifiers came back out. It was really discouraging for us!
We knew that he was dealing with a lot of changes when we brought the new baby home, so we accepted the regression and decided to try again in a few months. I really wanted to make it a goal to be done by his second birthday.
I had a hollow pumpkin (this cookie jar is similar) placed on our kitchen island for fall decor, and throughout October and November I started using it as a pacifier stash. Whenever he would get distracted and leave one of the regular pacifiers (we had these and these) somewhere, I discreetly picked it up and snuck it into the jar (I took a video of it and grabbed some screenshots so you could see). Eventually, I had collected all the pacifiers and he was down to just using Edgar again.
For a few weeks, he carried Edgar around everywhere. We tried to encourage Edgar to stay in the crib (with mediocre success). His second birthday came and I formulated a plan. We were going to go cold turkey. Edgar is technically Edgar #2 (he bit through the first Edgar about 8 months ago and we weren’t quite ready to fully wean the paci at that time so he got another one) but we still had the first Edgar. My plan was to switch the two back so he had the ‘broken’ Edgar that didn’t have anything to suck.
The week after his birthday, we planned to go to Ohio for Thanksgiving and return Saturday night. I figured LJ would fall asleep on the car ride home and we could transfer him to the crib without a pacifier and he’d still sleep. Then when he woke up, there’d be no paci. Simple, right? Well, of course he didn’t sleep in the car and he was very awake and aware when we got home. We had placed Edgar #1 (the “broken” Edgar with no paficier tip anymore) in the crib and he was SO sad. He cried and cried. We alternated letting him cry a little, then going in to soothe and comfort. It was rough and it took FOUR. HOURS. before he finally fell asleep.
We agreed it was super hard to stay strong, but I convinced Justin to try this for three days. If LJ was still this upset after three days, then we’d assume he wasn’t quite ready and try again at another time. We also took away Hedgie (honestly, Vi isn’t a big pacifier fan and never took to it well like LJ did) for that time so there were no pacis to be found anywhere in the house.
The second night and third nights each got better and better though and we knew it was the right time. Honestly, by night 3 it seemed like he accepted that Edgar was “broken” – we talked to him about how he could still have Edgar and snuggle him even without the pacifier and he does. He still likes to go to bed with Edgar and he’ll carry him around the house and hold him and play with him, but it’s more of a comfort stuffed animal now. We brought Hedgie back out this week and LJ knows it’s Vi’s and not his and he hasn’t regressed to wanting his.
It was a LONG journey with a difficult ending, but I’m so thankful we’re at this point. I’m so proud of LJ for “graduating” this step. And bonus: now that he doesn’t have something else in his mouth all day, his language is rapidly improving (we had hoped that would happen!)
Farewell Gigi, Patrick, Edgar, and all you other pacis. You’ve been good to us, but I’m glad to see you go.