Adieu Le Dummy


I will freely admitted that I’ve always loathed the sight of talking toddlers trying to form words whilst sucking madly on their dummies. As a brand new mom, I had no idea that the way to get a newborn to take a dummy was to shove it in the minute the little mite pops out of your womb (or pretty soon afterwards). I can’t recall when I was first alerted to the fact that a dummy might be a good idea. I think it may have been at least a couple of weeks after The Princess was born. But by this stage she was NOT interested in having a piece of plastic shoved into her little mouth – even one dipped in sugary gripe water.

When we said that The Princess didn’t take a dummy at her six week check-up, our very direct, Eastern European paediatrician took one look at The Mother Figure and I, and stated emphatically:

Every baby takes a dummy.”

She proceeded to hoist The Princess over her one knee, performed some kind of magic, rhythmical foot tapping, shoved a dummy in The Princess’ mouth, held it there and had her in a trance after a couple of minutes. She then looked up at us pointedly as if to say:

“You see? This is how it’s done.”

Obviously, no amount of knee-tapping, chanting or dummy shoving ensured a successful repeat of the process at home and I accepted the fact that The Princess was one of those rare and exceptional babies who “don’t take a dummy”.

Despite this, over the first four months of her life, eight different caregivers tried their hand at getting her to take a dummy: myself, The Husband, her two grannies, her two nannies and two different night nurses working different shifts. Then, we hired Margie, whom I’ve written about before here. What Margie lacked in tact and social awareness around adults, she more than made up for in terms of her expertise with babies. She officially got The Princess to take a dummy at four months old.

From then on, The Princess was a fairly big fan of the wretched piece of plastic, but for the most part, when she was awake, if there was no dummy in sight, she would manage quite well.

Everything changed when she started to talk. At about 15 months she had a repertoire of about 20 words. By about 17 months, this repertoire included the word “gummy” for “dummy”. From then on it was tickets. This kid was well and truly hooked. Any vague experience of distress, fatigue, irritation, frustration and a very vocal demand for her “gummy” could be heard. It’s alot more difficult to ignore a toddler’s demands when they’re being so specific about what they want and I often found myself giving in.

Things went from bad to worse when we were out one afternoon and she had a small playground accident. Naturally, she was desperate for the dummy then but I hadn’t brought one along, in an attempt to reduce her dependence on the thing. A group of mothers at the next table kindly produced a sterilised one and donated it to us, but not before basically saying that going out without a dummy is a very, very stupid move.

“Keep one in your car next time,” they had instructed me. I had been useless in the moment of crisis, going into full panic mode when I saw a bit of blood and screaming that I thought The Princess had lost some teeth when nothing of the sort had occurred. So, from then on, I decided I had better heed the advice of these obviously more experienced women.

Everywhere we went, the dummy came along.

But the longer and more beautiful The Princess’ golden locks grew and the more she spoke, the more I grew to loathe the sight of the dummy obscuring her beautiful face.

I was toying with the idea of getting rid of it about a month ago when The Princess was about 22 months old, but then we were going away and then she wasn’t sleeping well and then… well, there always seemed to be a reason why the timing wasn’t right. The Husband also still recalls that fateful day when his security blanket was wrenched from him and deposited in the trash and he was loathe to put his daughter through the same type of trauma… So we put off the dealing with the dummy issue some more…

But then suddenly The Princess’ neighbour and BFF (three weeks younger) gave up the dummy (not of her own volition, of course). Apparently a nurse told her mother that letting a 22 month old suck a dummy outside of of sleep times was “borderline abuse” and that was that – the dummy was gone the next day, except for sleeping. And The Princess’ BFF coped brilliantly.

I knew The Princess’ case was a little more severe, however, and that she wasn’t going to give up her dummy without a huge fight. I hatched elaborate plans, based on ideas from other moms, to mark her farewell to the dummy.

First, we went along to Frankie & Fred’s toy shop in the Blubrid Centre where I told her that she could choose a toy if she was willing to pay for it with her dummy. At first she was uncertain, but the sight of an enticing, wooden, Melissa & Doug’s cup-cake set managed to convince her somewhat. Still, the moment when she had to hand over her dummy to the very patient salesladies, was tough. She hesitated for quite some time, but she clearly understood that this was the only way she was going to get her lovely toy. Eventually, she relented, plucked the dummy from her mouth and “bought” her cup-cake set.

I thought we were on a roll and produced a second dummy, with which another toy could be purchased. After firmly sticking that dummy into her little mouth, she eagerly chose another toy. However, when the time came to choose between the new toy and the dummy, she literally abandoned the toy in the middle of the shop floor and sucked madly on her precious dummy. She didn’t even argue when I reminded her that we’d therefore have to leave the shop sans the second toy of her choice.

Mission only partly accomplished.

The next part of the operation was a pre-planned “farewell to the dummy” mass playdate. We invited four fellow toddlers around to watch her dummies sail away into the heavens, attached to helium balloons. Science has never been my forte, though, and The Husband (who’d especially come home early from work for the proceedings) quickly pointed out that the eight over-sized helium balloons I’d collected were not going to hold the weight of her remaining nine dummies (over and above the stash of dummies I had hidden in the cupboard for sleep times). And so, Plan B was hatched whereby two of the nine dummies were symbolically attached to the ballloons’ ribbons. The other seven dummies I sealed in plastic, and, with fear in my heart, deposited the package into the kitchen dustbin… The end of an era…

Despite the impressive spectacle of her dummies being carried away into the clouds, it didn’t take The Princess much more than 40 minutes after her friends had left to start crying for her dummy. She knew she hadn’t witnessed the ascension of her entire stash.


To make matters more confusing, we now had to start chanting our new motto from “the balloons carried your dummies away!” to “when you’re a big girl, dummies are only for… SLEEPING!”

By this stage it was about 6pm and sleep time was around the corner anyway. Not the best timing, I’ll admit. When The Princess climbed into bed at 7pm and was presented with her dummy for the night, she couldn’t have been more elated.

It’s now been a whole eight days since we bade farwell to the dummy during all waking hours. On Day 2, we had a full-on meltdown the likes of which I have only very rarely experienced with The Princess. In hindsight, it only lasted 35 minutes but it felt more like three hours. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but after the first three or four tough days when tears were shed more regularly for the dummy, things started getting easier. Now, The Princess usually only asks for a dummy if she sees another child sucking one or if she’s tired. It’s so great not to have this giant piece of plastic obscuring her beautiful face anymore. Also, I no longer have to wrestle with myself when she cries for the dummy and wonder whether I should be strong and try to withhold it or whether I should simply give in. Now, giving in is not an option, unless we want to start again from Square One and I definitely don’t have the strength for that…

Home Pregnancy Tests Are Not For the Faint-Hearted

Home pregnancy tests and I got off to a bad start at the beginning of last year. As I explained in great detail in my post A New Level Of Ditsyness I had an unplanned pregnancy scare when The Princess was ten months old – all because I’d kept the positive test from when I fell pregnant with her and re-used it, twenty months later, without realising that it wasn’t a fresh test. Gross. And dumb. But it was my first test and I was excited.

Just liked I’d planned falling pregnant with the Princess down to a T, I wanted to plan and be mentally prepared for a second pregnancy. After countless cocktails on my solo trip to New York when The Princess was fourteen months old, I downloaded the Period Tracker app, went off the pill and tried to imagine life with more than one little monster.

After several months and no missed periods, I started toying with the idea of giving up wine for that unknown time of the month when you might be pregnant but you don’t know it. I also heard a theory that some (not all) women should avoid caffeine when trying to fall pregnant. No coffee, no wine, a certain amount of sex on certain days… this was starting to get more complicated than I had realised…

And then, all of a sudden, deep in earnest conversation with the BFF visiting from Cape Town, my I-phone started playing an unrecognisable jingle, flashing lights, vibrating and scaring the living daylights out of me. It was a message from Period Tracker:


After my false alarm seven months earlier, I decided not to rush off to Lancet Laboratories for a blood test. The number of days between my cycle hadn’t been exactly consistent, according to Period Tracker, so I figured that one day overdue was no reason to plan the nursery yet.

Because I’d heard that it’s most ideal to do home pregnancy tests in the morning (something about your HCG hormone levels being highest then), I waited until the next day to dig into my stash of home pregnancy tests. And yes, I made sure that the tests were sealed in foil this time. To this day, I don’t understand how the designers of these tests expect a full bladder to be emptied onto a tiny plastic stick that’s about 1cm wide and 2cm long (I’m talking about the surface area you’re supposed to pee on). You then have this critical “no pee” zone that you need to avoid at all costs, else your test is inconclusive. Here’s what my test looked like:

If you ask me, this test looks sort of positive – I say “sort of” because the colour of the test (“T”) line is so much lighter than the colour of the control (“C”). I therefore wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be “sort of” happy to be “sort of” pregnant or if I was supposed to “sort of” not really get my hopes up. Maybe seasoned pregnancy test users would have better luck interpreting this crap excuse for a test but I had no idea what to make of it.

Naturally, I only had one of these useless instruments in the cupboard. The logical thing to do would have been to head to a pharmacy when the shops opened at 9am or to send The Husband. The Husband, however, was out cycling all morning and The Princess and I had breakfast plans at 9am and anyway, if I was indeed pregnant, I figured that the fetus would be in need of food, as was I.

Breakfast turned into brunch and then it was time to hightail it home for The Princess’ day sleep. By now, The Husband was home and it would have been the perfect opportunity for one of us to go to a pharmacy… HOWEVER… I’d been promising The Husband that I would get my butt onto a bicycle for several months now and that very day was the day that this event was due to take place. I’d even been to his cycling store during the week to “get fitted” by the experts who’d near- mutilated his bike in an attempt to make it comfortable for me. The Husband was bursting with excitement and it was just one of those things I could not pull out of.

But I devised a plan in which I wouldn’t have to pull out of the ride AND we could buy some pregnancy tests. We’d cycle past Dischem at the Blubird centre and pick one up there. Simple.

Not so simple. We pulled up outside Dischem only to discover that on Sundays, it closed at 1pm. Next stop: Clicks at Melrose Arch. Also closed on a Sunday afternoon. Surprise! The pharmacy at Melrose Arch: closed down when Clicks opened its pharmacy. I was sure there had been a pharmacy in the Evermed centre near the corner of Corlett Drive and Atholl Oaklands: also closed down, (no doubt when Dischem moved in over the road). And so we chugged home from our urban cycling adventure sans pregnancy test.

We then rushed to make our afternoon plans in Westcliff. On our way home, I thought we’d stop at Clicks in the Rosebank Mall which was part of a heaving centre so it was sure to be open. Not at 17:10 on a Sunday, however. And then it was supper, bath and bed-time for The Princess during which time The Husband drove to The Wedge in Morningside (which appears to house the only late night pharmacy in Sandton and surrounds).

Finally, he came home armed with three pregnancy tests. These tests weren’t comparable to the R25 Dischem tests I’d been using. These tests looked like they meant business:

Although it was now 8pm and not apparently the ideal time of day to be taking a pregnancy test, I went off to pee and see.

It was negative. The first Clearblue test’s key showed that two dark blue lines in the shape of a cross (similar to the cross on the Swiss flag) meant that you were pregnant and one horizontal, dark blue line meant that you were not pregnant. My “negative” line was more of a sky blue than a dark blue but there was absolutely no second line crossing this line so it looked pretty much negative, rather than “sort of” negative.

Thus far, I had one sort of positive test and one pretty negative test. I assumed that meant that I wasn’t pregnant. I decided that this caused for a sympathy glass of wine. It looked as though I wasn’t pregnant after all. I had lost interest in the stash of expensive tests The Husband driven north to procure.

Until my bladder began to fill up, that is. Then I decided that if I had to pee, I may as well pee on one more stupid Clearblue stick.

At first I didn’t notice anything different about the second Clearblue stick, but when I had to wait the requisite few minutes for the test to show a result, I couldn’t help but sneak a peak, even though a watched pot never boils… And then I saw a digital screen with a little flashing egg timer. So this was the Rolls Royce of pregnancy tests… (If you look carefully at the picture of the two Clearblue boxes in the picture above, you can easily notice the difference between the two tests but at a glance, it’s like trying to quickly distinguish between chunky and smooth cottage cheese – the packaging is so annoyingly similar…).

After the Rolls Royce had finished thinking, it flashed its result in actual, legible English language words:


Finally! A test going out on a limb with a declarative result! And so, in the space of a day, I went from being possibly but inconclusively pregnant, to most probably not pregnant, to probably pregnant. The Husband and I were partially elated and partially unsure that we should be, even after the fourth and final Clearblue digital test announced, once more, that I was 1-2 weeks pregnant.

First thing the next morning I called my new gynae to say that I’d had two positive pregnancy tests out of four and so I thought I was pregnant. His receptionist told me to go and get blood tests done which I dutifully did within the hour. I was to call his rooms a few hours later to confirm the test results.

When I called, stating that I wanted to know what the blood tests had revealed, the receptionist sounded both bored and skeptical. Not a good sign. These were her words:

“Um… Let’s see here… Ja… Okay…Yes…So it says you’re only just pregnant.”

OH MY GOODNESS! I understand the risks inherent in early pregnancy and Period Tracker tells me exactly when the first day of my last period was so I know exactly how pregnant I am. ! I just want to know if I should currently be thinking of myself as a pregnant person or not!

Needless to say it took me a day or so to get my head around the notion and a full two weeks before the nausea set in.

Now I am about 15 weeks and am sporting what I would call a seriously distended belly. This is the one time I actually would like friends and strangers alike to inquire as to whether or not I’m pregnant but since my stomach popped just post the Christmas holidays, people are understandably wary of putting their foot in it.