Monday, 28 November 2011

Throwing a tooth in to the works

BabyB-B is teething.  Two little chompers are busting their way out of her lower jaw and through her tender gums.  She seems happy enough during the day, but of an evening my happy baby turns into a sad panda.  She is extra clingy and difficult to settle.  She will sleep peacefully in my arms and erupt in fury the moment I put her down.  I can hardly blame her.

I remember the pain of my wisdom teeth coming through when I was in my early twenties.  It was truly awful.  Fortunately I had the adult ability to rationalise what was going on in my mouth.  I could pop a couple of paracetamol or ibuprofen and go about my business.  Poor BabyB-B cannot.  She does not know that the pain in her gums is the result of her teeth coming through.  All she knows is that something in her mouth is hurting her and she relies completely on DaddyB-B and I to make it better.  We're trying out best to do so.

Each evening we go about our usual 3B ritual:  bath, boob, bed.  However, when we get to the third B things go pear shaped.  BabyB-B may sleep peacefully for a few minutes prior to her eruption, or she may erupt immediately.  Upon eruption DaddyB-B rushes in to try to comfort her with his cuddles.  The success rate with this approach has not been great.  BabyB-B just wants the second B.  I return to her and sit rocking her while she comfort sucks and feeds to sleep.  I generally postpone the second exit attempt until she seems to be in a reasonably deep sleep.  By this stage settling has gone on for at least an hour.  More likely two.  I gently put her down and creep out of the room.

DaddyB-B and I then eat our dinner together, watch some tv, chat, I blog, surf the net, you know average, boring evening type things.  Then we go to bed.

BabyB-B usually wakes for at least one feed during the night.  More typically she wakes two or three times.  Her night wakings are usually pretty straightforward - she wakes, I feed her, she sleeps. However, lately we've had a spanner (in the form of a tooth or two) thrown in to the works.  BabyB-B wakes, I feed her, she fusses, I feed her some more, she fusses, we both fall asleep.  The night before last BabyB-B woke at least six times.  She wasn't waking to feed so much as she was waking for comfort.  Either way, she wanted and she got the second B.  We then cuddled the night away.

This got me thinking.  What happens to trained babies when they teeth?  Are they left in their cot to cry because they are not waking at the specified feeding or waking time?  Perhaps they are shushed and patted to tide them over to the allotted time.  Does the schedule go out the window during teething only to be reintroduced when it is over?  I've been told that consistency is key and the schedule should be maintained as much as possible through teething or illness. This  is one of my many issues with baby training.  Where is the room for flexibility and empathy if the focus is on sticking to the schedule?

I can just hear the parents of trained baby crying out, "How dare you say that I don't feel anything!!"  I'm not suggesting they do not feel for their teething baby.  I am sure they feel sympathy for their child.  However, I question whether they feel empathy (that is a true identification with, or vicarious experience of, what their baby is feeling and thinking).  I question this because if they truly felt empathy how could they not throw the caution of the baby trainers to the wind and toss the schedule out the window in order to provide comfort.



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