According to the dictionary, a pacifier is a thing or person that pacifies someone or something. And to pacify is to quell the anger, agitation or excitement of someone or something.
In baby town, this thing is also called a dummy, binky or soother and it works exactly like it says in the dictionary. It quells anger, agitation and/or excitement of babies. Having a tantrum about something, here’s your pacifier. Crying because you’re sick, pacifier comes out. Just being a pain in church, the hospital, the bank, your older sister’s school play, bring out the pacifier and calm you down. A pacifier is usually made out of rubber or plastic and is small enough to go everywhere with the baby. This is not the case with Kendi.
I am Kendi’s pacifier.
Actually, to be quite literal, my breast is Kendi’s pacifier.
I hadn’t thought about this is a very long while. Lucy, my doula had told me that I needed to be careful about becoming Kendi’s pacifier. That I needed to ensure that she finds something else to soothe her. That I should make sure that Kendi didn’t associate food (breast milk) with comfort- such association makes overweight and obese adults later on. I was very conscious of that when Kendi was born and I would sing to her, read books, and distract her with funny toys whenever she was whiny and I was sure she wasn’t hungry.
But then, I somehow forgot all about that and started offering my breast when Kendi was loud, sad, irritated, tired, and/ or bored. I started allowing Kendi to use me as a pacifier. Something that I had had very strong opinions about. And I need to thank Martin for reminding me about this.
We had started to notice that Kendi likes to ‘sip and see’- this is when she is breastfeeding and she takes a sip, looks around, takes a sip, tells me something, takes a sip, tells her dad something. It’s exhausting. She also likes to drink some milk, then encourage me to cover up so that she can, very excitedly, tell me to whip out my breast again. And this she can do maybe 4 times in one sitting.
So last night, she was fretting and being irritated about something and came to me, again, for some comfort. I was just about to unbutton my shirt when Martin literally yelled, ‘Kendi, you need to self sooth. You cannot be on your mama all day.’ ‘Baby,’ he turned to me, ‘you can’t let this baby use you like that. She’s been doing that all day.’ And indeed she had been doing that all day.
You see, I had become lazy towards Kendi’s need to be soothed. I had stopped thinking about ways to make this wonderful, full of life child of mine comfortable that didn’t include breast milk. I had reached a place where I thought, ‘it’s just easier to breast feed this one.’
I now realize that I need to challenge myself on a daily basis to be the best parent I can possible be. Everyday. Without giving up. Without getting tired.