Friday, January 4, 2013

Attachment Parenting and Internal Sturggle

After reading MissConceptions post on Post Partum  I was inspiried to write a post about the internal struggles I have been facing this week. 

MissConception said the exact thing I was thinking yesterday:

I think as infertiles we are very ready to deal with pregnancy, but a little less ready to deal with a newborn. We don't spend a lot of time preparing for it. At least for me, a lot of my time was spent focusing on getting and staying pregnant. I read up on pregnancy and became well versed in everything up until child care. Maybe it's because I had never been close to this stage before. Maybe I was too nervous about jinxing things and sort of avoided learning about how to be a mom. It's not that I was completely naive, but I didn't feel ready

I was telling my husband this exact same thing at dinner - then went on-line and read her post and I was amazed!  Being a mom is hard work!! It requires some thought on how you are going to deal with issues around feeding and sleep and discipline (although I'm not there yet) when you have so many people telling you so many things.  I never gave raising my child any thoughts - I knew I never wanted to be a cry-it-out parent, but that's about it.  I was so obsessed with my pregnancy and birth that I never thought about the aftermath - actually HAVING a baby.

When Hannah was born, I figured things would fall into place.  First she had her scary episode in the NICU after birth.  Then she had trouble with feeding and my supply.  So now, at 8 weeks I'm starting to realize that I know NOTHING about parenting and what babies need.  After a few days of hell, I've quickly realized that babies need SLEEP.  Yup - she basically slept her first 4 weeks away, so I figured she new how to sleep.  WRONG!  What I think was happening in the first bit was I was mistaking tired cues for hunger - which perpetuated my anxieties about her not getting enough.  Now that I know she is eating enough and not hungry, we are working on the sleep game.  Well here is where everyone has an opinion.  Friends have lent me and have raved about the Baby Whisperer.  I read it and saw some validity to what she was saying.  Such as cues for an overtired baby.  My daughter definitely fit that category.  However her system of sleep requires a cry-it-out approach that is more humane than the "Ferber" method, but still cry it out.  2 days ago I tried it...and I lasted maybe 90 seconds before I had to pick her up.  We just aren't ready for any type of cry it out approach.  So then I opened up the Dr. Sears book I was given...HELLO EPIPHANY!  By nature of what works for us, hubby and I have been doing an attachment parenting approach.  H likes to be worn and sleep, so we wear her.  She feeds on demand and we listen to her cues.  However, the negative stares I received at Christmas made me feel I was doing something wrong.  Although her sleeping in the wrap was working for both of us (well I was getting tired of having to carry her around and not being able to sit and relax) it was working.  I was also feeling guilty that we spent all this money on a crib and organic mattress that is completely unused.  H sleeps in her bassinet at night (after we co-sleep till she falls asleep nursing) and then during the day she wont be put down.  I was feeling that if we bought them, we should use them. 

Reading Dr. Sears has made so much sense to me.  His approach is one of logic.  Babies have needs and as a mother, you need to meet those needs - whatever they are.  You cannot spoil a child this young and meeting you child's needs will actually help the child thrive and develop.  It is a back to basics approach to parenting that cultures all around the world use and have used since the beginning of time.  A baby is hungry, she is fed.  She likes to be near mom, so she is worn.  Sleeping in a separate room in a caged bed is scarey, so she sleeps next to mom.  This is how we as primates were condition to nurture our young.  It has only been recently (and my husband argues since the feminist movement) that babies are seen as more inconveniences that need to be taught how to mold into our lifestyles (therefore schedules and cry-it-out approaches developed so babies fit).  For some babies, these methods work.  They are easy-going babies who don't have many needs (or their needs are met with minimal effort).  We all know the parents who have said they have an easy baby...these methods work because the baby's needs are still being met through these methods.  Since I was brought up by a mother who DEFINITELY was not into attachment parenting, I kind have thought that I was doing things wrong.  That my baby should be a separate identity from me and that I was resenting her for not giving me my time.  However, since reading his book, I realize that babies are not supposed to be separate identities.  The mother-child bond should make it so mother and child are 1 being, not 2. 

My baby was destined to be a High Needs baby (as Dr. Sears puts).  I was a nervous wreck throughout my pregnancy and had a million appointments and ultrasounds (she was high needs since conception).  Then, her first 4 days of birth were torture.  Her first day she was left alone in an isolet SCREAMING HER HEAD OFF, and hubby and I were instructed to leave her be.  We were not allowed to TOUCH her as she was so overstimulated.  It was hell for us...and I figured it would have lasting effects. 

Since reading Dr. Sears I have come to grips on how I'm going to parent.  My baby has needs and I'm going to do what it takes to meet her needs.  I wont feel ashamed when people visit and I'm carrying my baby in a wrap.  I wont feel guilty if I have to feed her for over an hour because she wants to pacify on the boob for a while longer.  If my mom (or anyone else) makes a comment that suggests I should change or what I'm doing is setting her up for failure, I'll just remind them that its a good thing THEY aren't the ones doing it.  They had their shot at parenting and now I'm having mine!

I wish I would have cracked this book before H was born. I wish  I would have given parenting a bit of thought - it is like planning your wedding.  You put so much work into one day, that some people don't think about the larger outcome...marriage and connecting and communicating as a couple.  Having a baby is similar.  You put so much stock into the one day of having the baby, you forget that you need to shape this little person to be a thriving member of society.  There is a lot of pressure on us as moms!!

Now my revelation is just that - MY REVELATION.  My biggest advice to moms is DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO SURVIVE.  If crying it out or schedules help you with that - then you go girl! For me, it isn't an option...YET.  Things change as the baby changes and maybe next month we'll revisit the baby whisperer.  But today, I'll wrap my daughter and carry her around so she feels protected and loved :)

This revelation has been HUGE and I think it has made for a happier baby.  Yesterday she slept 3 times for at least an hour during the day and last night we had a happy baby...not a cranky one (we did take her for a chiropractic adjustment...more on that could have helped with the inconsolable crying too). 

For the soon to be moms and the new moms out your research (either before or now) and stand true to your convictions - whatever they may be.  You are doing a great job and it is HARD WORK being a mommy!

The attachment parenting bible for those interested is Dr. Sears book The baby book


  1. That's awesome Amanda! I realized when I got my new baby home after the first night of putting her in the crib, that it wasn't going to work out as I had hoped. I had these expectations that she sleeps there and I sleep in my bed with my husband, but all of us were sleepless and miserable. The next night I promised to stay up with her all night and make her as comfortable as possible. I slept holding her on the couch, making it through her nighttime cluster feeding frenzy, and we all caught some sleep and she is a happy baby. I will hand her off to hubby in the am so I can lie down in be for a while since she is back on her 2 hour schedule and doesn't need constant contact. She swings with her eyes wide open or just hangs out and we can put her down. It's made my life so much easier to be flexible and not have expectations for her. This newborn time just goes by too fast to not enjoy. :)

    I did think I knew how I would parent, but she wasn't that type of baby, so I had to change it up. So now that I know her personality it's so much easier to research parenting styles. :)

  2. I think you are on the right track for yourself. I am glad you are doing what you feel is best for your family. Thank you for showing me I am not the only one who stresses whether she is doing things right. Keep up the good work and I will keep trying to find my way too.

  3. To me the most important thing is consistency. But what consistency looks like in such chaotic circumstances I don't know, lol. One baby wants to be worn and one hates it. So I wear one and let the other one do her own independent thing. Whatever works!!

  4. So many people gave me parenting books that just sat there on the shelf. When my little one was 5 weeks old and we were exhausted I noticed that someone had give me a book about sleep (Dr. Sears) so I picked it up and started reading. Total revelation and things got so much better after that. He's 3 months and still naps in the wrap most of the time. I love attachment parenting, it feels right. For now. It all changes so fast but this feels best for now :-)