Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Insult to Injury

Can't you just hear her singing, "na na a boo boo?"

I was working on another post, one describing the myriad trips we've taken recently. However, in light of recent events, that post will just have to wait.

Stella. My darling, brilliant, adorable, sweet, INCREDIBLY SENSITIVE Stella. I've resigned myself to the belief that I will not sleep through the entire night until that child goes off to college. Even then, she'll probably want to call me in the middle of the night when she can't sleep so I can sing her her favorite lullaby, "Hey There, Stella Girl." (Ask Dave and I to sing it for you the next time you're around -- it's lovely.)

Everyone has advice for new parents with a troubled sleeper, and I have to blunt and say most of it's crap. (Lack of sleep sucks the Southern sweetness right out of me.) Every child is different, every parent is different, there's no magic formula that will make my daughter sleep. If there were, it would have happened by now, because, and you must trust me on this one, I've tried everything.

I've even inadvertently let her "cry it out," even though I'm morally opposed to it, because there have been more than one occasion when I was either too busy crying on the floor myself or dead asleep after nights spent awake to attend to her. I'm not proud of this fact, but it's also not something I can help. And let me just say, I've heard the stories of babies who cry for 30 minutes one night, 15 the next, and then magically sleep 12 hours straight from that point forward.

That is not Stella. She cries until you get her. Period. End of story. 10 minutes or an hour. I've never gone over that, but I think I can predict what would happen.

And, as a teacher, I believe that it just teaches her to stop trusting me and hate bedtime. You may argue with that point of view and that's fine. She's my baby, that's the way I see it, you're free to do with yours what you like.

Jeez. I'm in a mood, aren't I?

So, no crying it out, which is the most common advice I receive. What's the second most common, you ask? "Have you tried a pacifier?"

Not only do people ask this, they continually give us pacifier after pacifier. BPA-free, designed to feel like a real nipple, pink, purple, with elephants, hearts, giraffes, with handles, without, hard, soft -- it doesn't matter. This girl won't take them and never has. We've never been opposed to pacifiers. We've tried to get her to like them from day 1. And from day 1 she's gagged on them and cried when we offer them. I ain't lying.

Until recently, that is. Call us hopeless optimists, but we always keep pacifiers around. In the diaper bag, in her box of toys, on her exersaucer, we've always had them about in the hopes that through osmosis she might change her mind and begin to use a pacifier to pacify herself, rather than my red, raw nipples.

The other day, she picked up one of these said pacifiers and turned it over in her hand. She giggled at it, and I figured she was just chuckling to herself about what suckers other babies are who would use such a thing when human flesh is infinitely more satisfying. However, moments later, she actually plopped the pacifer in her mouth. It was right side up and everything. And then, miracle of miracles (I actually heard the angels singing) she began to suck.

She looked over at dada, who was sitting next to me, and beamed at him as if to say, "look what I figured out!" It was honestly as if she thought she was the first baby to invent the possibility of sucking on something other than a nipple for comfort.

Dave and I held our breaths. I remembered a specific Christmas morning past, when my mom handed me a present and was certain I knew what it was from the shape of the box. That tilted front, the sturdy back, the soft thud when I shook it. It was that Care Bear I had asked for, finally mine. Lovely little Cheer Bear. The pink one with the rainbow on front. The one I had dreamt about for months, the one my stupid, snotty best friend had and wouldn't let me play with.

Then Stella spit the pacifier out. I picked it up and tried to stick it back in. She pushed it away with her hand and looked at me as if I'd just offered her a joint.

So, she will suck on the pacifier, as evidenced by the photo above, but it has to be her idea, on her terms. And by no means will she suck on it at night when it might actually soothe her without my assistance. We've tried that and let's just say it didn't work.

Oh, and my Christmas story? How did it end? I did get a Care Bear, but it was Funshine Bear, the yellow one with the sun on the front. The red-headed step-child of Care Bears.

I was so disappointed I wanted to cry, but then I saw my mom's face, expectant and excited. I beamed and told her I loved it. And I did. This bear was sunny and happy, so soft and sweet. It wasn't his fault that he wasn't pink with a rainbow.

From that moment forward I worked my butt off to show Funshine Bear how much I loved him. And soon he became more beautiful to me than all the Cheer Bears put together.

Wow. Lack of sleep makes me all rambly and nostalgic, doesn't it? I guess I'm just trying to say that I didn't get what I thought I wanted concerning Stella and the pacifier. But what I got is pretty adorable. I got a girl who does things on her terms in her own way. Someday, when she's a best-selling novelist or the scientist responsible for reversing global warming or the inner-city school teacher making a huge difference in kids' lives, I won't give a crap that she didn't use a binky at night.

For now, I'm seriously considering a third cup of coffee...


Anonymous said...

Benjamin was exactly the same way. He's never had a pacifier in his mouth for more than two minutes.

Paula and I are just now getting him to sleep through the night in his own bed. It's been surprisingly free of drama and histrionics.

So I can at least make a reasonable assumption that you'll get some sleep by the time she turns two...

Randi Skaggs said...

You know what, I'll take it! That's only 15 months away!

Thanks, Jason, and thanks also for reading my blog! We have to get our kiddies together! (Maybe Ben can tell Stella his secret to sleeping success!)

Kellygirlnyc said...

Hang in there, mama! You rock. Your kid rocks. Hopefully soon you'll all get some solid sleep. :)

sabrinasabo said...

Hey Randi, I love reading your blog, and your husband's. They are both entertaining, in a real life kind of way.

I hope you get a little more sleep in 2009!

Lauren said...

Oh man, you have so much ammunition for when she's a teenager and hits you with her pity-me teen BS ... ;)

Good luck! Can't wait for you to be mentioned in Stella's Nobel Prize speech someday!