For the first few months of Emma’s life, JR and I really struggled with parenting. We attempted to let Emma ‘cry it out’ and failed miserably after the first few minutes. We planned to have Emma sleeping in her own room at six weeks and kept her by our side until she was over seven months old. We had several illnesses and when they would come, we didn’t rush to call the doctor. All of this stuff was definitely not the norm and it seemed that everything we did was the opposite of what others would do.
You don’t need to be right; you simply need to be the best parent you can be. And you are the best authority on your child; no one else is- Mayim Bialik
For the first several months of Emma’s life, we were very confused and frustrated. Well, maybe not JR, but I was. I couldn’t figure out why I was so different. It wasn’t interfering in my relationship with Emma. In fact, I felt like we were closer than we ever had been and it just continued to grow. My confusion and frustration came from my style being so different than others. After seeking advice from a close friend, I was encouraged to check into attachment parenting. I was unsure at first why I needed to research it. I didn’t need another style of parenting to confuse me even more. I trusted this friend dearly and knew she wouldn’t lead me astray, so I checked into it and what did I find? We, JR and I, are attachment parents. Who knew? It just blew my mind to think that I finally had an answer for why I was the way I was and what made us the parents we were. It wasn’t that we were “wrong” or even that others were “wrong”. We are who we are and I finally found that we weren’t alone. **insert huge sigh of relief**
I guarantee you that I don’t know how to raise your kids; I know how to raise mine- Mayim Bialik
Today I wanted to share with you a little bit of what attachment parenting is and what parts of it apply to our family. Does it mean that we agree with EVERYTHING? Not at all. But there are several parts that we do agree with and that’s what I want to share with you today. Please note here that I understand that not everyone raises his or her child the same way we do. Do I feel it’s the right way for us? Absolutely. Because I respect your choice to raise your child a certain way, I expect you to do the same for us. Thanks in advance!
The greatest impediment I found in my first labor was being told I couldn’t do it, being told that I needed medical science to help me, and that fears, not faith, ought to govern my decisions- Mayim Bialik
Birth: The views of most attachment parents are that of a natural, non-medicated childbirth. There aren’t views that say it has to be at home or in a hospital. For that matter, you can still be an attachment parent if you’ve had a medicated childbirth. I didn’t do a lot of studying prior to Emma’s birth and truly I didn’t make a lot of decisions until it was time to have her. I knew I wanted to try and wait until she was ready to come but didn’t know my rights on how long I could wait. I wanted to pass on an induction and having pitocin but didn’t know when or if I could say no. At the end of the day, Emma came out a healthy and happy baby girl. There is nothing wrong with the way we had her and I’m just glad she is here. That isn’t to say, however, that I won’t do differently the second time around. I am reading a lot now and planning and preparing for an all-natural, non-medicated VBAC the next time around. Will that happen? Prayerfully yes. It won’t be definite until that day comes and I’ll be the same as I was with Emma- grateful beyond measure for a healthy baby boy or girl.
I embrace my body (breasts and all) because this is the body that carried my children, birthed them, and nourished them- Mayim Bialik
Breastfeeding/breast milk. Another popular view and usually standard of attachment parenting is the importance of breastfeeding your baby or providing exclusively breast milk. Early on, I knew I wanted to be a breastfeeding mommy. I was more excited about this than almost any other part of parenting (minus the actual reason for being a parent- my child). We ended up going a different route due to a severe tongue-tie but for twelve and half months, Emma had breast milk as her main source of nutrition. I pray next time around that I will be blessed enough to have the bonding of breastfeeding with my child but I wouldn’t trade the experience I did have for anything. I became stronger and more determined than I ever dreamed I could be. For all the times I told myself “I can’t” I was able to look into the eyes of my precious baby girl and say “I can!” without any doubts whatsoever.
As a general rule of thumb with regard to your baby, never second-guess the intuitive feeling that something is not right- Mayim Bialik
Be sensitive. Does this mean to cry whenever your child whimpers? No. It means that an attachment parent is sensitive to the cues of their child. They are focused on the comfort of their child and the importance that provides. For example, we have always been huge advocates of holding Emma when she gets hurt, scared, wakes up in the night, or anything else. Emma’s only way to communicate up until now (and still now at times) is by crying. It doesn’t matter if she isn’t hurt, because she thinks she is. It doesn’t matter if there’s no reason to be afraid, because she is. And it doesn’t matter if she can put herself to sleep at night. Just because she can doesn’t mean she has to. We are sensitive to these cues as parents and for us, this is what works. I’m NOT saying that a parent who doesn’t follow this model is insensitive so please don’t take it that way. It’s just the way we choose to be sensitive to Emma and her needs.
Bonding through touch. This may be one of my absolute favorites. Emma is sixteen months old and we still hold her to go to sleep at night. I know, people think we’re crazy sometimes because we should have done sleep training with her as a newborn. For us, this didn’t work. For us, we didn’t see the point in training a newborn to do anything. If she wanted to be held, that’s what we did and at sixteen months old, it still works. My momma rocked me to sleep at night until I was four years old and she doesn’t regret one day of it. And guess what? I don’t have to be rocked to sleep now or when I was seven. It’s not something that I took with me the rest of my life. In my eyes, Emma will only be young for so long and one day she won’t want me to hold her or rock her anymore. For now, I will rock and hold her as much as I can. We are a little behind on the babywearing model but are slowly getting into it. We have always carried Emma but realized that there is a simpler, easier way. We have a carrier that we’ve always loved and have brought it out of retirement to start using again. I used a pouch sling when Emma was a newborn and nursing and loved it. I’m really excited to start it up again in a more big-girl friendly form.
Bedding. This is one that you’re either for or against. Before Emma was born, I was certain that our room would be ours again at six weeks postpartum. I was wrong. Way wrong. We just couldn’t move Emma out, even after we moved to pumping and Emma slept through the night (which she did completely on her own). There was a comfort for us in hearing her breathe right beside us at night that couldn’t be replaced by a monitor. It just wasn’t the same. And every morning, without fail, Emma wakes up, takes her morning bottle (yes, she still has a morning and evening bottle), and then falls back to sleep in our bed. And we’re completely ok with that. I know some people aren’t and that’s ok with me. For us, it works. And it’s how we roll. Once we have baby number two, we will be investing in a co-sleeper so our next little one is even closer than Emma was in her pack-n-play. It will make night time feedings twenty times easier. Amen!
Be there. This is one that seems like it goes without explaining but it really was like a smack in the face for me. Just because I’m right beside Emma working on my computer and she’s in the floor playing doesn’t mean that I’m “right there”. Intentional, undivided attention is being there. I need to spend more time focused on Emma and less time trying to find her a babysitter in the form of the tv or a new toy. Does it mean this won’t ever happen? No. There will be times that I cave and forget that she is what matters. There will be times that I have to cook dinner or finish a work project and Emma will have to entertain herself. Does this mean Emma will never play alone? No. But it means that I will be there more than I have been before.
Attachment is about fit. This tiny word beautifully sums up how parents and infants adjust to one another in the early months of life. Fitting together brings a completeness to a relationship, a rightness that brings out the best in parents and baby- William Sears
Balance. This may be the hardest thing on my list. I agree with it 100% but committing to it is another thing. JR and I need to get better at balance in our lives and are blessed to have careers that make this possible, however, we often times make it harder than it should be. We need to work on balancing out the time that we spend working and the time we spend with Emma. Balance out the nights we spend out and the nights we spend in. We need to balance out what’s most important and for us, it’s God first, then family, bottom line. Sometimes we’re off on this but it’s truly what we belief- we just need to put it to work.
Here’s a little about JR and I and how we’re parenting. How do you parent?