Monday, July 5, 2010

being attached

As new parents, you can't help but become a little overwhelmed by the hundreds of different books, websites, classes etc. meant to teach you how to care for and raise your child. And I think, in the end, you just have to decide what feels right and what works with your lifestyle and your baby's temperament.

Chris and I are, for the most part, attachment parenting as defined by Dr. William and Martha Sears. It's not the perfect approach and we are far from perfect examples, but I did think explaining "attachment parenting" might shed a little light on some of the choices we're making during our early months with the Turtle.

There are seven "Bs" in Attachment Parenting
  1. Birth Bonding
  2. Belief in your Baby's cries. 
  3. Breastfeeding
  4. Babywearing
  5. Bedding close to Baby
  6. Balance and Boundaries
  7. Beware of Baby Trainers
So how are we faring when it comes to the seven Bs?

Birth Bonding: Chris and I had a birth plan that unfortunately were unable to follow, given Turtle's early arrival. I had hoped to labor at home, and opt for a completely medication-free birth. I had also hoped that Turtle would be placed on my chest immediately after he was born. Those things didn't happen. That's the bad. The good is that I went into labor naturally and had a vaginal birth. Chris was with us the entire time and the Turtle slept with me while we were in the hospital. He was actually only taken the nursery for an hour-long exam each day. Otherwise, he never left my side.

Belief in your Baby's cries: We're still trying to figure out what the Turtle is trying to say with different cries. And, it's not easy. Especially given that his cries change every day. I am far from the perfect cue reader - often thinking an "I'm over-stimulated" cry is an "I'm hungry" cry. I have a lot to learn in this department. But, both Chris and I do believe that the Turtle is trying to communicate through his cries and we do our best to provide the appropriate response.

Breastfeeding: I've addressed this quite a bit in previous posts. Yes I'm breastfeeding and I love it. That said, pumping is tough and keeping my milk supply strong is a challenge.

Babywearing: Again, I've mentioned babywearing in previous posts and  we continue to be strong proponents. And, as Turtle grows, we look forward to finding new ways to wear him that will encourage exploration and interaction.

Bedding close to baby: We are still co-sleeping, and will continue to for another 8 weeks or so. This has been a life-saver, especially now that I'm back at work. The one thing I can say, with certainty, is that I do not feel sleep-deprived and am actually quite energetic and I owe this to our sleeping arrangements.

We anticipate transitioning the Turtle to his bed sometime between 5 1/2 and 7 months. In the mean time, we encourage naps in his crib.

Balance and Boundaries: This refers to taking time for yourself. It's easy to become all about the baby and start to ignore your health, your interests, your marriage. I believe that the happier and healthier I am, the better I will be for my family. And, I think we're doing a fairly good job creating balance. I go to the gym or the pool every morning. Chris has a few hours to himself each night after Turtle and I have gone to bed. We stay in touch with friends (though we could be better about this) and try to plan weekend activities that will get us all out of the house and out into the world.

Beware of Baby Trainers: This is a tough one to follow, because as a new parent (especially a mature and somewhat well-educated one) it's easy to question every step, every move. And you always wonder if Dr. so and so has the answer. You wonder if that woman really could be a "baby whisperer" and if so you think you might be denying your child of some fundamental lesson or hindering some kind of necessary developmental milestone if you don't follow her lead. But in the end, you have to take a deep breath and know that you're doing the right thing for you and your family. And that's all that matters.

So that's where we stand on attachment parenting. Like I said, we have a lot to learn. But on most days and in most moments it's working for us. And if nothing else I do feel connected to my boys and am confident that we are surrounding our little guy with love, support and encouragement.

Stay tuned.

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