Mary Jo has been a thumb sucker since she was about 4 months old. She never took to the pacifier and would put her thumb in her mouth when she was tired. It was her cue long before she could speak.
I was always okay with her thumb sucking. I sicked my finger until I was ten and while I do have some obvious dental issues, it's not all attributed to my finger sucking. And because Mary is so tiny, she's likely going to have the same issues I had with her jaw and teeth so braces are inevitable anyway, thumb or no thumb. But for me the key was that she was able to settle herself, she was able to comfort herself and when she needed that little extra something, the thumb was there.
Mary went to the dentist for a routine check up last month. While she was there the Dentist mentioned that her palate was becoming malformed because of the thumb. He said if she stopped now it should fix itself but otherwise she'd have to have a 'cage' device put in which would prevent her from sucking her thumb. So she stopped. She almost seemed to do it with such ease that I thought, wow, she was really ready. We made a giant fuss about how proud we were of her for stopping and how big she was now.
What a big mistake.
Mary had a nightmare about a week ago (apparently our house was located at the bottom of a volcano) She ended up in our bed that night. Since then, going to bed has been a nightmare in itself. She starts crying at dinner time in anticipation of going to bed that night. At first I thought it was because of the nightmares but last night it finally hit me. It's the thumb. She's having the bad dreams but she's got not soothing tactics left to help her settle back down after the dream. Shes' terrified and has nothing left.
We talked about it for a long time last night. I offered her music, stuffies, blankets, anything at all to feel better. She has a makeshift bed on my floor now and ends up in my bed by about 2 am. But it also means Sean and I are not getting any sleep. I gave her my stuffed dog BJ (the one my grandma gave me when I was 8 - that dog got me through some rough times) and while she's pretty happy with that, it's not her thumb.
Last night when we were talking my baby looked up at me with her bottom lip quivering and sobbed "Mommy, this is so hard" I wanted to cry myself. I feel like in her giving up her thumb she's lost her best friend, part of herself. And I wish I could give it back to her.
I hope this gets easier for her soon.