I've just been sat here this morning thinking back to the very early days of first time motherhood where I can only be described as dazed and confused.
One of the things I was totally adamant about during pregnancy was, and I quote "no child of mine will ever have a dummy". See when I was pregnant I was definitely in the "smug first parent to be" category. I used to listen to war stories from friends and colleagues and think to myself "how difficult can it be?". I used to say all the time, "When I'm a Mum, I won't do this" or "When I'm a Mum, I'm going to do this" But it was all hot air and blah blah blah, because then Little Legs arrived and our simple little existence was turned completely on its head.
I decided to breastfeed at first, I was totally clueless but I gave it a bash nonetheless. Anyway, after my second night of total sleep deprivation caused by a beautiful, but quite demanding little minx who wanted to suckle constantly, the midwife appeared like a fairy godmother. I told her what had been happening the previous two nights and her first reaction was that it was just a comfort thing and I should give Little Legs a dummy. I didn't tell her that I'd already kind of arrived at the same conclusion myself the previous day and had sent M out to buy a canny stash of the things which were now well hidden in the kitchen drawer.
That little secret stocking up hadn't been without some guilt though. I'd read all the arguments for and against the things and decided dead set against. Now here I was desperate to plug one in for even just five minutes of peace. Shock horror! "Was I a bad Mum? How would I explain myself to friends and family?". I remembered going to mother and baby groups in the early days, and almost trying to sneak the dummy in and out of my bag in case it was needed for an emergency. Seriously, that's how bad I felt. However, for us, it worked, and boy were we grateful.
Then things started to change. We began to realise that we weren't using the dummy for Little Legs but rather for ourselves, as a quick fix. Whenever we ventured out of the house we would arm ourselves with about ten of the bloody things, content in the knowledge that if things kicked off we could put a stop to trouble straight away with these wonderful inventions.
Then things got even worse! Little Legs decided to teach us the error of our ways and began waking literally every half an hour as she had lost her dummy. I remember hearing the rattle of the dummy as it hit the mattress, ten, sometimes more, times a night. It would only then be a matter of seconds before we would hear the whimper become a wail, become a scream and we'd traipse obediently down the hallway to remedy the problem.
After a fortnight of this we cracked and so began "Ditch the Dummy" week. It was cold turkey for both us and Little Legs. She had to learn to fall to sleep without her dummy and we had to learn to leave the house without the security of ten of them in the change bag. Five days of tears, tantrums and threats of divorce later we'd cracked it. It was, in hindsight, the best thing we've ever done.
I remember telling one of my friends at the time (who didn't have children) and her immediate response was "To be honest, I was really surprised that you of all of people even used one". I felt like a total failure, and a very bad woman. The jury's still out on dummies for me. It worked for us for a time but then it most definitely worked against us.
I am now a great believer in doing what you have to do to survive those difficult days. The people who are quick to judge aren't there in the early hours of morning when life is really tough. Do you know what else? My secret stash is still there. Waiting, just in case, for the next one. (I'm not PG by the way, just in case you get all excited!).
Anyway, what's your view? I would love to hear what other people think.
The Mighty Dead Adam Nicolson
2 hours ago