Monday, February 11, 2008

The Finger as Pacifier

One of the many ways we’re truly blessed having Mihret as a daughter is that she slept through the night pretty much from the day we brought her home.

This completely blows a lot of new parental topics of discussion for us, because a lot of people who know we have a kid and want to engage us on the topic of childrearing use, “So, is she sleeping through the night, yet?” as their opening gambit.

Then we say, “Yes, and they say, “Oh, “ and that’s pretty much it for that conversation.

Unfortunately, this causes another problem that most would define as silly. Like most babies/toddlers, there are times when Mihret doesn’t sleep through the night. When this “insomnia” happens, it generally only lasts for a day or two. And Mihret doesn’t get up every hour on the hour, or anything. She usually wakes up at 11 (when we’re usually still up, anyway) and then again at maybe three or four in the morning.

Consequently, Kara and I will get, say, six or seven hours of sleep, instead of eight.

This impresses no one, but parents of kids who had colic, and who spent many days and/or weeks and/or months nearly sleepless, wandering dark halls, are particularly unimpressed. It’s not unlike telling someone who lost an arm that you once had a really painful hangnail.

Last night was not the best for our wee one, as she woke up three or four times before midnight, once just before 5 AM and once just before 6 AM.

Mihret has never used a pacifier. It isn’t that we didn’t want her to do so (in fact, I think the current school of thought is that it can help prevent SIDS), it’s just that she didn’t want one. She always seemed to feel the rubber in her mouth, try sucking on it, realize there’s no food coming, and spit it out.

Instead, since the day we met her, she has usually fallen asleep while sucking on her left pointer finger. It’s a great paci, generally, as it’s with her wherever she goes.

Last night, she popped awake screaming at around 11 PM, just as I was heading to bed. So I picked her up and held her in the large rocking chair in her room.

Her finger went right to her mouth.

The trick to knowing that Mihret is asleep is to watch that finger. If you read the parenting books, they tell you that the secret to knowing that your kid is really asleep is to lift one of their arms and drop it.

In Mihret’s case, when the finger comes out of the mouth – she’s out.

So I sat, and watched, and got to observe the following hilarity. It seems that the kiddo was tired, but not “knocked out” tired, as she put her finger in the mouth and started sucking. Then, slowly, it started to slip out. Only she wasn’t ready for that, so she actually jolted a little bit, made a noise that said, “No! Want paci!” and stuck her finger back into her mouth, sucking on it with renewed vigor.

She did this six or seven times, until finally her sucking motion proved to be no match for the heaviness of her limbs, and her arm dropped to her side.

It’s moments like this that make the “just sleeep – you’re so sleepy and you just need to sleeep” moments worth all the trouble.


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