26 Nov 2005

Stick a finger in her, she’s done

Posted by AC

Babies like to suck. Babies need to suck if they want to go on living. We’ve decided not to give Sam a pacifier because, like so much in parenting, there’s a wealth of information about it, but very little agreement. Good: It can calm the baby. Bad: It can interfere with breastfeeding. Good: It can help reduce the risk of SIDS. Bad: It can be a hard habit to break. Good: Unlike thumbs, it can be taken away. Bad: The list goes on and on. Given our history of breastfeeding and a general (and largely unexamined) feeling that a pacifier is “cheating,” we have decided to stay clear of the pacifier. However, babies like to suck. So, to help calm Sam, we let her suck on our fingers — usually we remember to wash our hands first.

The other day, Sam was screaming. OK, to be fair, she screamed today. She screamed yesterday. I don’t doubt that she will scream tomorrow. But this story takes place the other day, and Sam was screaming. I haven’t yet written the blog entry that’s been floating around in my head titled, “This one goes to eleven,” but it starts to give you the idea. It had variability of pitch, tone and volume. It had more rasp than a team of woodworkers. It was the kind of scream that started in the base of my spine and dashed upward to take up residence in my temples.

We were pretty sure it was a fatigue scream — mainly because she was clean, dry, warm, fed and held. So, we swaddled her up, sat her down on me (I double as a crib — who knew?), and I stuck my pinkie finger in her mouth. She went from full-tilt to silent with only a couple of disgruntled squawks at my finger in between. The silence rolled in like thunder. It was amazing, and quite a relief.

I amused myself with the thought that this might be a life long panacea:

“Daddy, Suzie called me a poopie head!”
“Here, suck on my finger.”

“Daddy, my soccer team didn’t make the playoffs.”
“Here, suck on my finger.”

“Daddy, my Ph.D. defense was delayed again.”
“Here, suck on my finger.”

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