Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Update: Dealing With Thumbsucking

A few months ago, I wrote about our thumbsucking dilemma.

The thumb is my sleeping buddy. The thumb and this pillow.
I aimed to resolve that before Maia's 3rd birthday but it just seemed impossible. Well, not till 10 days ago. We had to travel to Antique for a family emergency last Friday. We were rushing to catch the first flight going to Iloilo and I accidentally left her favorite bolster pillow at home. We were already in the airport when I realized I made one of the gravest mistakes my forgetfulness could ever do me. That pillow was the ticket to our uninterrupted sleep for the past two years, why did I have to forget that of all things? Tibs was throwing dagger looks at me but we cannot discuss it for the fear that the little girl might notice her precious pillow was missing and throw a tantrum at 3am in the crowded pre-departure area. What's worse, a sleep-deprived Tibs and me might not be able to handle it in the most pleasant way possible and might make a scene. Ugh.

Thankfully, she didn't notice that it was missing. However, when the plane was about to take off she demanded for the pillow. What are we to do? Well, normally we would have stalled and maybe come up with a white lie till we get a replacement but she was demanding for a specific pillow. The cry went exactly like this: Gusto ko ng hotdog ko! Yung color white! May pagong, alligator, yung may zebra! Gusto ko yun, Mommy! Gusto ko yung hotdog ko! (roughly translated as: I want my hotdog [bolster pillow]! The white one! With the turtle! Alligator! The one with the zebra! I want that, Mommy! I want that pillow!) We couldn't come up with a lie at that point because we are thinking of the next 5 days that we will be dealing with. If we lie and say the pillow was just inside one of our bags, the next 5 days will be a nightmare for us. She will not stop till she gets it. If that happens, we might never be able to get at least a night of restful sleep. So we gradually broke it to her (we just got creative while doing it hehe). Our dialogue went: We left the pillow in Cavite. We left it because she was still sleepy when we left and she forgot to wake up the pillow. But the pillow will be waiting excitedly for her to come back. We will make sure to call Ate Belen (our nanny) when the plane lands so she can take good care of her pillow while she's away. She cried of course for maybe about 10mins of the flight. But she eventually got tired and finally succumbed to sleep when her dad started scratching her back. Poor baby.

The first night without the pillow was really bad. We were able to put her to sleep around 10pm already (she normally sleeps at 7-730ish). Thankfully, at my lola's wake, everyone was busy so nobody really notice we were already listening to bad opera in our bedroom (read: Maia screaming, crying for her pillow). She'd wake up every hour or so and demand for the pillow. It was a terrible night for us three.

The second night was (thankfully!) better. My sisters found her a spare pillow (from our past vacations) but she still insisted at first for that specific white pillow with the turtle, alligator and zebra print. She threw the spare bolster pillow many times unto us till her strength ran out and finally slept. It wast still a night filled with so much interruptions. But it was on the 2nd day that we realized the pillow served as her anchor when she takes her thumb to suck. Without the pillow, it's very uncomfortable for her to suck with her arms hanging in the air. That was a light bulb moment for Tibs and me. Instead of feeling helpless, we were suddenly empowered with the thought that we can finally kick the habit out. We just have to be more patient with handling her pre-bedtime (and middle of the night) tantrums. What we did was not make her nap during the day and keep reminding her  we do not have the pillow with us so she should stop demanding it from us.

Our patience paid off! The next 3 days turned out way, way better. She'd cry for just a minute or two. Then would tearfully ask for one of us to scratch her back and she'd silently go to sleep.

Getting back to Cavite was a different story though. She immediately looked for the pillow when we got home. But I already gave instructions to Manang to hide it.

What excuse did we come up with? Well, the stray cats that found solace in the empty lot beside our house became a convenient excuse. Manang told Maia that she couldn't find her pillows anymore and that Mingming (the name we gave the cat) might have taken them away when she was airing them to dry. Maia cried of course. She really cried her heart out. But she somehow knew there was nothing she could do.

So, for the past 10 days she's almost kicked the bad thumbsucking habit away. We only caught her twice I think trying to stick the thumb back into her mouth but again for the lack of support for her arms, the thumb would easily fall out of her mouth when she's fallen to sleep. Some days Manang would tell us she would chase the cat and demand for her pillow. But most days, she gets by just fine.
I asked from her to stop sucking her thumb before her third birthday but she refused to give in to my request. But 10 days before her birthday, she did give me what I asked from her. I was the one who got the best gift on my daughter's birthday. And it was her who gave it to me.

I'm the luckiest mom in this whole wide world. :)

Will hug Sophie instead. 

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