May 11th, 2012

DJ Breastfeeding

I am an Attachment Parent

There has been a lot of talk recently about Attachment Parenting (AP). Most recently this picture graced the cover of Time, causing shock (as it was intended to) on both sides of the issue.

There have been some great responses to it already published. Here are two: No. I’m Not Mom Enough & Time Magazine and “Extreme Parenting

It may come as no shock to those who know me, but in my household, we practice AP. Here are the eight principles of AP. I just sort of fell into AP naturally. My parents practiced many of these things back in the 80s before there was a term for it because it “felt right” to my mother (she says that we should call AP “natural parenting” since everything else is outside of what is normal in most of the world and for most of human history). These principles also feel right to me. I am also thankful for a friend who passed on her copy of The Baby Book (which I’ve mostly read through) because it gave me the term to use for doing what felt right to me and helped me find others who parent the way I want to.

I had a natural birth at a birthing center. We breastfeed, which I plan on doing until it is something LP and I both decide is no longer for us.

Nursing at 11 months old

We co-sleep, which makes it so much easier as a working mom of a baby who reverse-cycled at about 4 months to get any sleep.

I take up the WHOLE bed!

We practice babywearing. LP loves being worn (most of the time) by either parent. And it sure can make doing things like shopping, housework, or even playing WoW (once he’s asleep) easier. We also have a stroller, which we do use for things like long walks to the park.

Darius babywearing LP Mei Tai is awesome!

Recently I borrowed from the library and read Beyond the Sling by Mayim Bialik. It was interesting to read her book. I really liked her voice and the way she told her story. When I was reading bits about parts that I agreed with already, I found myself nodding my head or saying “yes! exactly!” out loud (good thing I read it while pumping in the Mother’s Room at work so there was no one around to hear me). There were some things that were a little “out there” for me, such as Elimination Communication (which sounds cool…but we’re renting a place with lots of carpets and I know it’s something daycare would never go for) and lots of holistic medicine. I did love her chapter on gentle discipline (also known as positive parenting), which I made Darius read. I actually got out from the library the book on Gentle Discipline that she recommends in her resources section. My two biggest take-aways from her book was the idea of not saying no, but saying “Not for LP, but this over here is for LP” instead and when the kid starts to cry when hurt asking in a caring tone “hurt, surprised, or both?”

Does AP work for everyone? No. Does it work for us? Yes. One of the biggest tenants that I’ve noticed amongst AP people and La Leche League people is that they are aware that every family and every mother is different and so they say do what you can and what works best for you and for your child. No need to be “mom enough.”

Part Two: Attachment Parenting and the working mom.

Originally published at my baby blog. Please leave any comments there.

DJ as Superman

The AP Working Mom

(I was writing this as part of my previous post on Attachment Parenting, but it was getting long so I decided to make it it’s own post.)

I’ve been hearing people say that there must be no way that Attachment Parenting can work for a family where both parents work. Being in a family where we both work and yet practice AP, I want to let you in on what my life looks like these days:

It starts in the morning when Darius gets up to go to work. Around then LP usually wants to nurse, so I figure out where he is in our monster queen-twin-on-floor bed and see if I need to switch sides. Then we both fall back asleep. When my alarm goes off a little while later, I bring him to me to breastfeed again as this will be his last nursing session before daycare. If my alarm goes off during this time I gently unlatch him, turn off the alarm (it’s across the room), and then see if he wants to nurse more (he usually nurses through at least 2 rings of the alarm). I like this nursing session because he’s usually super cuddly and sweet. Then when I am sure he is back asleep, I get out of bed, take a shower, brush my teeth, get ready for the day, and turn on the cheep baby monitor. Then I pick out his clothes for the day and head downstairs.

Downstairs I turn on the other half of the baby monitor, get out three 4-5oz bottles of expressed milk, a clean nipple, and any food I’m sending with him, make sure it’s all labeled and put it all in a bag, which then goes in his to-daycare-diaperbag. I also get four clean empty bottles for me to pump into in the pump cooler pack with their special cooler thing and put that in my pump bag. Then I make my lunch and put that in my backpack. I then run all of this quickly out to the car (now along with the car seat if it’s not already in the car). Sometimes I also have to feed the girl-cat. Then I usually get a chance to sit down and eat breakfast. If LP hasn’t woken up by 7:30am, I go wake him up. I don’t like the fact that I have to wake him up, I’d rather let him get up naturally, but I have to get to work. I get him out of bed and bring him into “his” room. There I take off his PJs and change him into a new disposable diaper (daycare doesn’t take cloth and we also use disposables overnight) while singing him “Good Morning” from Singing in the Rain with lyrics that I’ve made up. Then I get him dressed, often while trying to keep him away from the boy-cat (who often comes into LP’s room to see what’s going on). Then it’s grab any last minute items, get him into his car seat (sometimes play peak-a-boo or tickle his toes), and drive him to daycare. At daycare I spend a bit of time with him and give him good-bye hugs and kisses. Lately I’ve been wearing him in in my mei tai. I have a new theory that he’s more willing to let me go if I wear him in and wear him while I’m putting away his bottles and filling out his daily form, etc.

Then I head off to work. At work I pause twice to go down to the Mother’s Room and pump for 20 minutes each time. Since this takes up a good chunk of my time, I generally work through lunch (so I can leave a little earlier). Most days Darius picks up LP from daycare. When I get home I have to put the milk I just pumped into the fridge. If I’m home before the guys, I’ll check to see if I can put any milk in the freezer. I often try to get some bottles washed then. When I get reconnected with my guys, I look over LP’s sheet to see how much he ate, when he napped, when he last had a change, and if there are any other important notes. By then LP usually wants to nurse. These days he’s very “vocal” about it: pulling at my clothing, signing “milk” and saying “nana.” Sometimes I change his diaper first (into cloth while at home) if I think he really needs it. Then I sit on the couch with him and breastfeed him. More often than not, this is a long reconnecting nurse that turns into a nurse-nap. Once LP is asleep, I’ll play on my iPhone or watch TV. It’s a great way not only to reconnect with him, but it also helps me unwind from the day.

Evenings are varied depending on if we’re going out or not or what’s for dinner. Generally these days Darius makes dinner because I’m breastfeeding LP for a good 45 minutes, if not longer, while he nurse-naps. Sometimes if LP wakes up or if he doesn’t nap, I’ll wear him on my back and make dinner or help out by cleaning dishes (it seems like there are ALWAYS dishes to clean) or sit and play with LP. Then dinner. After dinner we may all play downstairs or maybe Skype with my mother or other family members or whatever. Sometimes LP wants short breastfeeding nips during this time, sometimes he doesn’t. Then it’s bedtime (usually) and every other night LP gets a bath given by both of us. Then back into a ‘sposie and daddy puts him in pajamas and we both pray that LP will fall asleep quickly while nursing so we can get some time together to wash more dishes, or fold laundry, or watch some adult TV, or read and blog or something. Some nights it works (like tonight, which I why I’m getting a chance to write this) and some nights (like last night) it doesn’t. On those nights LP doesn’t want to go to sleep, so one of us will wear him while doing the night time chores (washing bottles, making lunches, feeding cats, etc). Generally this makes him sleepy enough that we can all go to bed together.

Overnight LP still (half-)wakes up 3-5 times to nurse (counting the one that I mentioned at the beginning of this post). I’m so thankful that we’re co-sleeping because it’s just so easy to roll over, feed him, and go back to sleep.

So, would I prefer to be able to stay at home? Yes. But I’m so thankful for AP because I feel like I am still able to connect with my son when we are together and without it I know I’d probably not be getting even half as much sleep as I do now.

Originally published at my baby blog. Please leave any comments there.