ok that might be overstating it, but i think it's safe to say the worst is behind us. now that i'm on the other side, here are my reflections on losing the nuk cold-turkey:
1) the anticipation is worse than the real thing. but only a little.
i seriously dreaded this change. we kept putting it off because i just didn't want to mess with bennett's sleep, which wasn't always great. i didn't trust he would sleep well if we messed things up by taking his nuk. but i wanted to get this out of the way before baby #2 came and let's face it, we are running out of time. oh boy. anyway, i anticipated it to be rough. and it was. looking back now it wasn't that bad, but it certainly wasn't fun.
2) kids are more resilient than moms.
there were a lot of tears in this process. and some of them were bennett's. but seriously, it had to have been harder on me than it was on him. i felt guilty for taking something away that he's used to comfort him since birth, especially since he's too young to understand. i'm fairly certain that ben didn't even remember why he was mad at nap time and bedtime within a day or two. he never asked for the nuk or looked for it anymore. i think he just knew something was different. but after a few nights, his crying at bedtime and nap time only lasted a few minutes and then he was fine (minus some middle of the night fiascos, which i'll get to...)
3) transitions are tough but you get through if you persist.
i didn't really struggle with giving in when we let ben cry it out at 6 months. maybe it's because i was exhausted. maybe it's because i heard it would only take a few days. maybe it's because i'm heartless. hard to say. but with the nuk, there were a few times i legitimately considered just giving it back. if i hadn't committed myself by writing it on this blog, i might have. i also might have were it not for the fear that joe might leave me if i abandoned the mission i myself had spearheaded in the first place. so by persist i, of course, mean get scared.
4) 3am is not the time to go rogue. or criticize.
joe and i agreed we wouldn't go in bennett's room when he cried in the middle of the night during this endeavor. we know our kid and our presence only makes matters worse. if i am not going in for a purpose (i.e.: giving him a nuk, giving tylenol, etc.), then it's better to let him figure it out. night 3 of operation: no more nuk bennett woke up crying at 3:30. an hour later, still crying. in my sleep-deprived stupor i convinced myself that i could magically induce an instantaneous, deep sleep for bennett by my mere presence alone. so i crossed enemy lines, confident that i would return a hero. i sulked back to our bed minutes later completely deflated, the sounds of much louder cries ringing in my ears, mocking me. i made a comment to joe like, "well that didn't work..." to which he so kindly responded, "well i just don't get when the plan changed..." fair? probably. ill-timed? duh. cue tears. i picked up my pillow, muttered "obviously i am just trying to help," and retreated to the couch downstairs. there i cried and listened to my child cry for 45 more minutes until we both fell asleep. woof.
5) i will do this all over again.
as much as it sucked to go through these [nearly] two weeks, i will give baby #2 a nuk if he will take it. they are lifesavers. plus, you can eventually take the nuk away, unlike a thumb. sure, it's horrible when they lose the nuk 10 times in the night and cry, so you go in there, pop the nuk, and pray it'll stay in... 10 times over. but that moment when you see them grab their own nuk and put it in their own mouth: priceless. when bennett did that, i immediately went to target and literally bought like 20 nuks and scattered them around him in his crib so he could find one at any time. we affectionately nicknamed his crib "the land of 10,000 nuks." around 12 months we restricted nuk use to the crib and car seat only, which was a relatively easy feat. that will happen again with this next one. then around 14 months we restricted it to the crib only. he would throw it in his crib when we got him up from a nap or in the morning. it was a good system and bennett understood that nuks were for sleeping only. i think those small adjustments probably helped ease the full transition because he wasn't used to having it all the time.
we still are dealing with some residual effects of nuk-lessness. ben used to go down for bed tear-free and happy. now it's met with opposition and tears. luckily this only lasts a minute or two and then he happily chats to himself until he falls asleep (which usually is in under 5 minutes, just like joe). also, we still have some random crying in the night some nights, but, again, it usually just lasts a minute or two and he's back to sleep. he's resumed his 3+ hour naps in the afternoon which is heaven. i'm hoping nap time and bedtime can soon return to a pleasant time, but that may take a while. i can deal.
you'd think i would feel relief. and i do. except now i am dreading the crib-to-bed transition (which, by the way, i am putting off as long as possible). it's always something with me, right?