There has been a lot of talk, recently about TIME magazine’s article on Attachment Parenting. This seems to have sparked a resurgence of the “mommy wars” that have plagued mothers for so long, pitting mom against mom, based on their style of parenting. To breastfeed or bottlefeed (and for how long?), pick her up or let her cry it out, put baby to bed in a crib or in your “family bed,” and now, apparently, put him in a stroller or carry him in a sling. These choices are so very personal and so personally charged. If other moms are anything like myself, they are trying so hard to do what is best for their babies, that they truly believe in these decisions, once they’re made. If someone questions, or worse, belittles our plan, our hearts and minds go into overtime, working to prove how ours is the best.
Well, I, for one, do not intend to prove anyone wrong or even tell anyone that my way is best. I do read Dr. Sears’ books and value his advice greatly. His The Pregnancy Book, and The Birth Book got me through all three of my pregnancies and births, and have survived being reread, over and over, for 10+ years. Since the birth of my baby, Sophia, I have also read The Baby Sleep Book and have begun his, The Baby Book. It is this last one that addresses the subject of AP most completely. When parenting my first child as a baby, Jeana, I most likely would have ignored much of the advice of AP, had I been aware of its existence. I did breastfeed her, but only until I went back to work, at only 4 months in. To be fair, I did try pumping at work, but it just wasn’t working out for me. I also had her sleep in bed with me, but as soon as she stopped waking every couple of hours, she was down the hall, in her crib. It was long ago, but I think I also let her “cry it out,” which Sears argues, causes baby to lose trust in their parents to meet their needs. She does not seems to be damaged, but it did break my heart to hear her cry!
My second baby, Paige, was breastfed a bit longer. I think she was around 7 months when, after months of trying and failing to get her to take a bottle, she finally got it and I was off to work. I would nurse her when I was home, but not pumping at work caused my supply to plummet and, before long, my back-to-normal, A-cup breasts would no longer make milk. Again, she slept in my bed until she was “sleeping through the night,” although I do recall MANY nights of trying, endlessly to rock and sway her back to sleep. At this point, I had not even heard of “baby wearing.” Employing this tactic may have kept me a bit more sane, as this child was into EVERYTHING, ALL THE TIME. If only I had known!
Enter Sophia. It’s been 10 years since I began parenting and much has changed over the years. I am older and wiser; more aware that the choices I make for my baby now, will affect the rest of her development and life. I do feel close to my girls, but do not feel that I fully understand them. Discipline has always been an issue, especially with Paige. Perhaps, if we’d been more “attached,” I would know how to best relate to her. This is one of the benefits of AP, according to Sears; that with attachment, you are more aware of your child’s needs and, therefore, better able to understand how to relate to and discipline your child.
Bedtime with Sophie began in a similar fashion to that of my other children. She slept in my bed, as a newborn. However, she was an excellent sleeper – which I never expected – and she soon was sleeping in a cradle, next to the bed. See, I toss and turn throughout the night and have trouble getting comfy when I’m sharing my bed with a baby. Since I didn’t need to nurse her every couple hours, I didn’t see the point on keeping her in the bed (except that I do love being close to my baby). Eventually, her little sleeping noises woke me more often than necessary, so she was moved to her crib at the other end of the house. It felt wrong, to have her so far away, but I needed my sleep. Part of me still regrets this decision. She now, at 9 months, wakes more often than she ever did as a newborn, but my bed is too much fun for her to convince her to sleep there (we’ve surely tried!). I spend a lot of time nursing her in the rocking chair in her bedroom, every single night. I am tired. If we could get back on the co-sleeping train, we could cuddle and nurse in the comfort of my bed. Would I sleep better? I’m not sure.
She has, from the beginning, been bigger than her sisters were. She was born almost 1 1/2 lbs heavier than they were, and the trend has continued. Due to this, I have come to love the sling. She is nearing 20 lbs, and not yet walking; it causes me physical pain to try to carry, or even hold her, for long periods of time. So, I have become fond of baby wearing. However, I don’t do this as a means to become more attached. I do it out of necessity and convenience. Regardless, I can see why it is becoming so popular!
To the subject breastfeeding and extended breastfeeding. I am adamant than this child will never drink formula. It may contain a lot of the vitamins and such contained in breast milk, but it is not even close to the same experience. There is so much about breastfeeding that cannot be replicated, from the immune boosting properties, to the close bond formed from nursing. It is a good replacement option if there are physical reasons why someone cannot breastfeed, or if mom is returning to work (as SO many must, and I did in the past), but it nowhere near the same. For this reason, I am staying home and making a real go of it, this time! Determined, at first, to nurse until she reaches 12 months, I am hoping we can continue even longer! The more I read about the benefits of breastfeeding, the more I want to continue. Now, will I still be nursing Sophia when she is 3 or 4? I seriously doubt it, but this is not because I find it weird or creepy. I would like to have my body back, eventually! I just wish people wouldn’t be so judgmental over this subject!
Well, I’m beginning to feel like I’m rambling, so I’ll wrap things up. I think Attachment Parenting is a great concept, which, like many ideas, works for some and not for others. I intend to use as many of the “tools” of AP, which Sears refers to, as long as they are working for me. I can’t argue against being close to my baby; it feels good and right. I only wish I could start over with other two children; maybe we’d be even closer and attached today.