Monday, August 19, 2013

Addiction and withdrawal

This post is not about me, although perhaps I am a bit addicted to chocolate and decaf coffee.  No, this post is about Tadpole, who has been addicted to her pacifier since she was a wee little thing.

When Tadpole was little, I believed (and possibly still do) that being dependent on a pacifier was better than sucking one's thumb, because a pacifier could at some point be taken away, while a thumb is there more or less forever.  I felt like even though we were probably creating a future problem by allowing heavy pacifier use, we were at least creating a problem that had a viable solution, and so I went on with my life with that unhappy future day looming over my head, but still, always in the future.

Until here we were, Tadpole is over three years old, and still had her pacifier.  She didn't use it at preschool, but otherwise she had a pacifier with her almost all the time.  Let me rephrase that, actually - she had TWO pacifiers with her at all times.

Honestly, I didn't really have a problem allowing her to keep her pacifier until she decided to give it up on her own, assuming that she decided to give it up at a reasonable age (say, before 5 or 6).  Unfortunately, two other problems developed.  First, she started chewing on her pacifiers, and that was awfully hard on them.  Pieces started breaking off.  She wasn't even getting suction as far as I could tell (so much for the plan to cut holes in them - she basically did that herself, and it didn't bother her in the least).  We threw a bunch away and warned her that any new pacifier that got chewed on would meet the same fate, but that didn't stop her at all.

The second problem was essentially her downfall - she kept leaving her pacifiers lying around (or she would actively hide them), and then have no idea where they were.  That drove me absolutely crazy - I can't tell you how much time I spent looking for pacifiers with a wailing, distressed child who could not remember where she put the dang things even if her life depended on it (and let me tell you, from her point of view, it did).

Last Friday morning, we left for my mom's house and I vaguely remembered that she left the house while eating a snack and I meant to run in and grab some pacifiers, but alas, with all the last-minute things, I forgot.  She spent the whole day without pacifiers, which was sort of ok until the drive home, and then she wailed for the entire 45 minutes.  When we got here, I went to look for her pacifiers to put her down for a late nap, and could not find a single one.  I looked all over the house, which had been cleaned that day (by the professional cleaners, which meant it had also been thoroughly straightened by me, so there wasn't stuff lying all over the place as usual).  ZERO pacifiers.

So.  We decided it was time, cold turkey.  She'd spent the whole day without and skipped her nap, so she'd be nice and tired and probably sleep through the night.  My husband bought a few backups in case things got really bad, but it went ok.  She slept all night, and was definitely sad about the pacifier situation all weekend, but I managed to distract her each time, plus it was a busy, crazy, fun weekend so it went mostly ok.  She even got on skype and told her grandparents in Italy that thieves had stolen her pacifiers (I'm not totally sure where she got that story, but I'm ok with it).

And then ... today ... OMG.  She woke up from her nap wailing and weeping and gnashing her teeth, my little daughter who always wakes with a smile.  Tears ran down her face and she rubbed her eyes and her runny nose and most especially her mouth.  She rolled on the floor and flailed her arms and legs and threw herself back down every time I picked her up.  It seemed like she was going through a really strong physical withdrawal - she kept pulling at her lips and rubbing the back of her hand across her teeth and tongue and wiping her face on the couch (causing lots of brown lint to stick to her face, which was covered in snot from her runny nose).  It took me about 45 minutes to calm her down, the first half of which she didn't even want me near her.  It was rough.  I've actually never seen her like that, and I'm a little bit worried about her having an addictive personality (maybe I should talk to the doctor at her 3-year appointment this week?).

During this time, I called my husband and asked him to come home from work early (it was only about 14 minutes early, really).  Tadpole finally calmed down with a graham cracker snack, and we explained that her pacifiers were all lost and that she was a big girl and didn't need anymore.  We also have been playing up the fact that she's going to get a big girl bed (hopefully tomorrow, if I can get the right size bolts and get to IKEA to get a mattress and some sheets and then get the cribs taken apart and the beds put together for both kids in time).  So ... I hope this was the worst of it.  I am crossing my fingers, because I hate seeing her like that, but I just know it's for the best.

On a side note, it is SO sad taking apart my little ones' cribs.  I just want to cry.  Sometime I wish I could have another one.  Sigh.


  1. We are slowly working on Ginny's thumb sucking, but it's not an easy process. It comes down to a lot of reminding (ie - nagging), and ultimately, I think I will have to resort to one of the 'bad-taste' methods.

    I wouldn't be too concerned about Tadpole's freak-out and having an addictive personality. Change is tough for toddlers/preschoolers and to lose something that has been a major source of comfort for so long will be traumatic. But she will get through it. One thing I've come to realize with Ginny... the challenging times seem to last forever, while we're in the midst of it. But in the long run, it's just going to be a blip on the radar of her life. (I know that sounds horribly glib, but it's what I focus on to get me through moments like this.)

  2. We're still working on getting Davie off the bottle. She only takes one at bedtime, and occasionally early in the morning when she first wakes up. Every time we put them all away, she gets sick and the bottle is the only thing she'll drink. :( I guess it's going to be an ongoing process.

    We've gotten nowhere with potty training so far. *sigh*


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!