Archive for Attachment Parenting

Baby Signing Cuteness

Little Diva walks over to Junior and grabs his hand, gently squeezing:

“Squeeze hand for milk. When you want milk, squeeze hand.”

She knows how to help a brother out.

It is a sign that would have come in handy today. I think Junior is about to bust out with his first tooth. From 2:30 pm until about 6:30 pm he nursed almost continually, for an hour without break at one point. If he fell asleep and delatched, he started screaming. This is a baby who never cries and it frightened me a little. Since nursing settled him down, though, I’m guessing it is just a tooth. He’s been chewing on his hand like crazy for the last two weeks.

It has been an AP kind of day. Diva has been wanting to spend more time cuddling on the big bed since brother gets to have full access in his little sidecar co-sleeper–which I must agree only seems fair. But our bed was one of those really high, giant, four poster monsters that seemed like a good idea in the BC (Before Children) Era.

DH was about to dismantle the bed and then decided to remove the box spring to lower things and add in a piece of plywood for support when he had the time. Well, the bed beat him to the punch. We were getting the kids in for nighttime and I was on the bed with Junior. I asked DH for a hug. He obliged. And one of the slats cracked. So now the big wood frame is dismantled, the box springs are back, and the mattress (supported by box springs) is on the floor.

A much safer and happier arrangement for all involved.

To Sling, Or Not to Sling

Every time I take my babies out, I have a choice: Sling or stroller.

I’ve seen parents carrying young infants with neither option, but I cannot imagine that and there is no way I’m carrying my 18 pound infant in a car seat without a stroller.

Let’s do a case study:

Slinging It:

Today I took my toddler to the doctor and I placed Junior in the sling. While we were waiting for the doctor, he fell asleep and continued to sleep through the entire exam.

I brought them to “Toddler Tango” at the library and held Junior in the sling while I danced with my daughter. Junior flirted a bit with the ladies and then passed out. Another mother’s infant woke up from a nap in the travel system and she commented that she did not have her Bjorn with her. I whipped out my spare pouch sling (hee, hee) as a loaner and now she wants one, too.

Strolling:

We went to a craft program. I decided to place Junior in the stroller, hoping he’d fall asleep and I’d get a little break. I maneuvered our Sit N’ Stroll into the elevator along with another adult and toddler. Then, a Dad came along and we held the door for him. He came in with toddler and his stroller.

The doors closed and…the elevator did not move.

We pressed buttons, the doors stubbornly refused to reopen.

Three adults, three toddlers, two strollers, and one infant stuck in an elevator for 15 minutes.

When maintenance finally got us out, I placed Junior in the sling, left the stroller, and walked down the stairs. We arrived in time for circle time but missed the craft.

Now, in the stroller’s defense there are times when I need a little more freedom of movement (like undressing and dressing the toddler for swimming). And sometimes I want to move faster than the toddler can walk. So, strollers definitely have their uses. After the elevator experience, though, I am even more convinced of the benefits and convenience of my slings.

How about you? Any stroller or sling experiences that made your day or drove you crazy?

A Present of Presence

baby presentAn invitation to a party is always welcome–especially a carnival! So, when Amy let me know about the Attachment Parenting International Carnival, I was jumped on over right away.

(Okay, so this is of the bloggy variety and not one with balloons and rides and sinful cotton candy, but still, a carnival nonetheless.)

During the seconds it took to load the page, I became increasingly excited. What would the topic be? On which loving aspect of attachment parenting would we focus?

And then, my grin dropped and my eyes narrowed: Presence…how I give my children my presence.

Presence is one of the most important aspects of parenting mindfully and it does not cost a dime. Being present is also one of the hardest things to do in this fast-paced, hectic, go-go-go world.

Confession: sometimes I get fixated on the details and lose the big picture.

There are tummies to fill, errands to run, and events to attend. Not to mention work to be done. The house starts to feel more like a triage unit than a home.

And, just when everything seems to almost be under control, I add another challenge to my already full schedule.

My husband has lately been calling me out on my overuse of the word “need.” We need air, sustenance and shelter, not a finished basement and more clothes and a bigger car, he points out as I try not roll my eyes and pout like a teenager.

No that there is anything wrong with gymnastics lessons, foreign language instruction, and fancy toys–but children, especially young babies, don’t need those things. Children need their families. Children need love.

And in trying to squeeze an ever increasing amount of errands, tasks, and work into day that just refuses to stretch any longer, it is easy to forget this simple truth.

Fortunately, confession is good for the soul. Even better–group confession. Like this fabulous mother, I have to be honest and admit that there are distractions. Honey, I promise I’ll read you that book as soon as I publish this post.

When I hear another new mother trying to wrap her mind around the challenges of parenting, I try to reassure her that motherhood should be about enjoying your family, reveling and rejoicing in this special bond, not about checking off a list or adhering to a strict set of rules. We should be committed to parenting, not committed to an institution because of parenting.

What a wonderful way to kick off an Attachment Parenting Carnival–by sending the message that the most important thing we can do for our children is to just be there with them. Everything else is icing.

So, I’m committing to slowing down and being present with my children.

When they are both awake, I’ve been fighting the urge to “get things done” and instead concentrate on doing things with the kids.

I turn the computer off during our play time.

My new baby eats constantly, but I try to find the joy of gazing into his eyes while feeding him, instead of reading a book–at least while he is awake.

When I’m with my children, I remember that part of the joy of parenthood is being able to experience the world as a child does, once again.

I remember that we’ll only be here, in this moment just once.

Some time and space has to be sacred, dedicated to the family.

Life is always a balancing act, especially for women. And I still will have to work and meet deadlines and accomplish. Sometimes I will be a better parent and a more productive worker when I compartmentalize and set aside times for each. I can type and think more freely when I am not mothering and I can nurse and nurture a lot more wholeheartedly when I am not trying to work.

Other times, I can work with my children. Perhaps it will take an hour to fold the laundry with the toddler’s “help,” but we will be together–learning, laughing, and loving.

Find out how other parents are giving their children their presence and share your own story…

We’re so Breastfeeding-Friendly, We Do Everything Except Let You Nurse Your Baby

Basking in the joy of the birth of my new, giant baby boy, I wanted to stay positive.

Still, I’d like to share my experience breastfeeding in the hospital in case it helps anyone.

Part of the reason I chose our hospital is because it is more open to a more natural birthing experience than other hospitals in the area. And, although I think this is probably true, that is unfortunately a sad commentary.

My baby and I are breastfeeding well and everyone is doing great–but I fear that if I had not already successfully breastfed my first or if I were less informed or less assertive, our breastfeeding would have been sabotaged.

Immediately following birth, barring any urgent medical needs, my baby was supposed to be placed immediately on me. Since he was so large and stuck during part of the labor, they wanted pediatrics to check him out (which I fully understand–although I suspect this could have been done with him on me, as was done with my first child). However, after they verified he had not been harmed at all during the labor, they continued with the routine, non-urgent procedures.

I kept telling them, “I want my baby! Give me my baby!” but they did not hand him over until they were done. Although in the grand scheme of it all, this is minor, I was sad that I missed that magical feeling I had with the first when she was exactly the same temperature as me and stepped her way to the breast.

After they handed him to me, I had a short time to breastfeed before they took me to repair the tear. I got him to latch on one side and just as he finished, I was placing him to the other breast when the nurse (not the Certified Nurse Midwife) came in an said, “I have to weigh him.”

I told her was breastfeeding and it could wait.

She replied that I was getting “crazy” with the breastfeeding (huh?).

I stood my ground and responded calmly (really, I swear) that he had just finished one side and I was going to feed him on the other and then she could take as many measurements as she liked.

She got very snotty and said that she was going to have to go tell the doctor that I was not allowing her to do her job.

That says a lot right there about her perception of her role and the hospital’s role in birthing babies.

Of course, she’s just one person, and my husband overheard some other nurses speaking of her in a negative way, but at the very least some retraining needs to be done.

Following the repair, I was placed in temporary Operating Room Recovery until the epidural wore off (they had given me more medication during the repair). As they wheeled me in, I saw my husband. I called out, “Why aren’t you with our son?” Perhaps not the most pleasant greeting, but I was starting to lose a bit of trust in the hospital.

“They want to give him a bottle,” he told me.

“What for?” Now I was starting to get a little nuts, “Is he okay?”

“Yes,” he reassured me, “But they said his blood sugar will start dropping because he is so big, so they want to give him a bottle. And they said if they wait too long, breastmilk won’t do it”

“But I’m breastfeeding! Bring him to me! And I’ll feed him!” I was in full on mother bear mode and unfortunately they had sent my husband and there was no target for my protective rage. My poor husband kept going back and forth to tell me the baby’s blood sugar level and to try to negotiate with the doctors to allow my son to come to me.

They first lied and told us he was under the warming lights (he wasn’t and he was perfectly healthy so there was no reason to hold him there) and then admitted they just “did not have the personnel” to bring him to me from the nursery. Now this is not a huge hospital. It takes two minutes to walk from the nursery to where I was. And post-op had no problem with me feeding him in recovery. The staff in the nursery was creating a situation where they would need to give him a bottle because they would not let me breastfeed.

And there was no reason for him to be in the nursery, anyway, as I was rooming in with him and would be in the room as soon as the maternity ward would accept me–as soon as the medication wore off. The post-op staff again was very helpful. I asked them, “How mobile? Like walking or just some approximation thereof?” They told me that maternity liked people walking but they would start releasing me as soon as I could bend both knees. I had one leg already moving and was trying to get the other one working. Eventually they took pity on me and pretended not to notice as I grabbed one of my legs with my hand and said, “Look, it is moving!”

Finally, we were in maternity recovery and they brought me my son! With the delay, it took time and patience to get him to latch. Of course, as soon as he fed his blood sugar was fine and he was healthy and wonderful.

But they had one more curve ball to throw at me–the next day they came without any notice to take him for his circumcision. They said I could not feed him even though he was due right then for another feeding. I was concerned, but they assured me it would just be an hour and then he’d be back. Three hours later…it was now six hours since my son had fed and the poor thing had just been circumcised. He was upset and had difficulty latching.

Then they started harassing me because he had not urinated since the circumcision…again they wanted to give him formula. I told them to go away and leave us alone. Of course, once he fed a few times, he was fine.

The kicker was that the day we were checking out, after all this was over, the lactation consultant comes by, sees me nursing, says “good latch,” quizzes me (how do you know if the baby is getting enough?), and then leaves. Gee, that’s helpful.

While I’m complaining, on a completely unrelated note, I got the demonically possessed hospital bed. The bed is for patients who cannot move and it automatically adjusts as you move. So when I shifted my weight in my sleep, the bed moved, waking me. If I lowered it so I could get out to use the bathroom, it raised. And of course it was noisy, too.

As you can imagine, I could not wait to break out of that place!

To add one last final insult, they insisted I be pushed out in a wheelchair by a staff member. I would have protested, but I just wanted to leave.

I think if I have a third birth, I’m going to just make the absurdly long drive to the nearest birthing center or do it at home.

All of this is not to say you cannot breastfeed if medical need requires your child to have a bottle early on, nor is it to criticize those who choose to formula feed–but just to show how hospital policies that are not always rooted in actual medical need, can create problems during the crucial early stage of breastfeeding. This is why we need to promote breastfeeding and support nursing mamas!

Okay… end rant. Back to enjoying motherhood!

Baby Activities Week 1: Healing and Bonding

This first week with baby I concentrated on healing and bonding with baby.

What do you feel is important in the first week? What tips do you have for postpartum healing? How do you bond with your newborn?

Healing:
Babies spend a lot of time sleeping and eating the first week and I strongly encourage mama to do the same!

I’m a terrible sleeper and usually just cannot nap. However, this is the one week I’m just so pooped that I need and enjoy a quick daytime snooze.

I’m fortunate enough that my husband is around this time and able to use some of his vacation time to stay home with me. He is seriously a Superman and makes my life a gazillion times easier. His parents stayed with the toddler while I was in the hospital and my mom visited for a few days when we first got home. All four grandparents have pitched in with home repairs, babysitting, frozen meals, cleaning, etc. It is definitely nice to be living close to family this time around instead of halfway across the country.

Graciously accept any and all help offered during this time.

Be good to yourself because the quicker you heal, the better you’ll be able to care for your family!

Sibling Note:
We have a toddler girl, too, so she also needs a lot of attention during this time. We are trying to maintain her routine as much as possible, allow her to help in age appropriate ways (picking out clothing for baby, counting his toes while he nurses, getting his diaper), and also give her some individual time with Mommy and Daddy. She has a doll and she enjoys feeding, burping, changing, and swaddling her dolly (and assorted stuffed animals).

Bonding:
Bonding with baby begins even before birth and it is never too soon to start enjoying your baby.

Feeding
In the first week, one of the biggest bonding activities is eating! I breastfeed so we spend a lot of baby’s waking time in this activity. If you do not breastfeed, feeding time is still a perfect time to relate to baby. Breast or bottle, baby should be held during feedings. And, if baby’s awake, you can also rub baby, talk to baby, and gaze at baby.

This is the beginning of the bond of trust for me and baby. He expresses hunger; I meet his need by feeding him.

Although it is tempting to “get stuff done,” I try to really enjoy this time and remember that feeding my baby is one of the most important activities I can do this first week. So many vital things happen during mealtime and baby learns that eating is a social activity that nourishes the soul as well as the body.

Babywearing
I am up and about so I am also wearing baby in a sling. If you are still in bed, then another caretaker can do this (a great opportunity to bond with another parent or grandparent) or it can certainly wait until you are feeling stronger!

In baby’s sling, he can eat, hear my heart beat, feel the familiar rhythm of my walk, enjoy a swaddled feeling, and gaze into my eyes. For me, I get to keep baby close and comfy while having my hands free. And it is much better for my back, too, then carrying him in my arms all the time.

The cradle hold is ideal for newborns, so I’m using my favorite ring sling (and some mamas like pouches, too). Hard carriers have low weight limits, are usually limited to one position, and are not very ergonomic for baby or for the parent. If you like the idea of a front pack, try a wrap, a mei tai, or a soft structured carrier, instead.

Bath Time
Touch is so important for babies. I’m sure everyone’s heard about the studies of babies who were fed, but never touched. Without touch, a baby may die or suffer serious developmental delays.

Besides, who can resist touching that silky soft baby skin?

During baby’s first week, he also gets his first sponge bath at home. Babies don’t need to be bathed everyday, but keeping baby clean is important for his healing and it is another good time to bond. I love washing and rinsing each part carefully and then wrapping him up in a soft, warm towel. It is also his first massage! Some people are suckers for baby shoes…me, I can’t resist a funny hooded towel.

Next Week:

The first week can establish the pattern for bonding. At the same time, parenting is a marathon, not a sprint, so try not to dwell on missed opportunities and instead focus on the joys ahead.

There are other activities you can do with your baby right from the start–like reading, singing, and dancing–but if you are not feeling up for much activity, just take a break and cuddle. Your love and food are the real essentials. I’ll focus more on these sorts of additional activities in week two.

Promoting Breastfeeding and Supporting Mamas

I started writing this post on MOMformation and it just felt too long, too serious, and too preachy…so over there I am publishing the TOP TEN REASONS I LOVE BREASTFEEDING and I thought I’d bore the 30 people who read this blog instead with my more philosophical ramblings 😉

You’ve heard it all before, all the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and child and their relationship. And, no doubt, if you are planning to or are breastfeeding, you’ve read all the breastfeeding tips and advice on sites like BabyCenter and KellyMom. So, if the information is out there, why are so few U.S. mothers breastfeeding?

Certainly it isn’t a lack of willingness to try. Seventy-five percent of new U.S. moms start breastfeeding but by six months that number drops to just thirty-six percent. Some small percentage are, no doubt, physically unable to breastfeed. But is something else at play here?

Personally, I breastfed my daughter exclusively (no formula and she refused the bottle) for six and a half months. I loved the convenience. I’m lazy like that. And I appreciated how she enjoyed the milk and thrived. Despite a congenital heart condition that would usually make feeding and gaining weight difficult, she hit the 90th percentile curve and followed that until she started walking. And given her medical vulnerability, I felt that any immune boost was helpful. And speaking of weight, mine dropped off immediately.

But I’m well aware that there are as many different experiences with breastfeeding as there are mothers who try to breastfeed. Why is it that so many women struggle with breastfeeding and stop before six months? How can we support women who wish to breastfeed without pressuring those who do not?

I am not a doctor, nor a sociologist. I am a mother, a friend, and a confidant. Listening to my friends, I hear common threads emerge in their stories.

Some of my friends had experiences similar to mine, finding breastfeeding initially exhausting but eventually liberating. A few struggled through immense amounts of pain due to medical conditions or infections but persevered. I’m not saying a mother should have to do that–I’m not sure I would. I even met a woman on a support board who was an adoptive mother trying to stimulate lactation. Whatever your opinion about that, I have to admire the dedication.

However, quite a few of the women I know, after bouts with postpartum depression or other illness, attempts to pump exclusively, or returning to work full time, eventually decided that breastfeeding was not a fit for their families.

A family’s decision how to feed its baby any nutritious food is their own business. I never question any individual mama’s decision to stop breastfeeding–her child, her body, her call. At the same time, I find the trend that the vast majority of mothers are not breastfeeding to six months, let alone a year, concerning as a “big picture.”

I have a few theories about this trend, and I’d be interested in your ideas.

  1. Marketing of Formula: Many doctors claim they support breastfeeding and encourage breastfeeding, but yet the offices and magazines are jam-packed with glossy ads, coupons, and offers of free samples for formula. Thank goodness formula is available for those mothers who are unable to breastfeed or choose not to. And, I certainly have no issue with companies making money. However, there is little money to be made off of breastfeeding and so, in terms of marketing dollars, it just can’t compete with formula.
  2. Medical Interventions During Delivery: Again, thank goodness for modern science. Medical interventions save babies every day. At the same time, with incredibly high rates of c-sections, some mothers and babies miss out on the first opportunity to breastfeed. Often they are still able to breastfeed, but for some this sets the stage for a stressful breastfeeding relationship.
  3. Lack of Breastfeeding Role Models: I think this is a big one. My friends and I are mostly boomer children. Our mothers, with a few exceptions, graduated college and were determined to be more than housewives and technology promised to set them free. Now grandmothers, they have, with few exceptions, any breastfeeding experience to pass along.
  4. Fears of Breastfeeding in Public: Some women may be more naturally or culturally shy about breastfeeding in public. It certainly does not help when people make nasty remarks or even try to push the woman off into an inconvenient and sometimes even uncomfortable and unhygienic place to feed her baby. In certain areas bottle feeding mothers have received nasty stares and remarks, too. And no mama needs a judgmental stranger harassing her during a vulnerable time. Truth is, there are jerks of every stripe. My guess, though, is that the mom with the bottle is not going to stop feeding her child with a bottle (because how else would she feed her baby if she’s already stopped breastfeeding?), whereas the mom with the babe at the breast may be bullied into stopping.

What helped me feel comfortable with breastfeeding in public and keep going was finding a supportive online community to share thoughts, fears, and tips about breastfeeding. What challenges do you think create these low numbers? If you tried breastfeeding and stopped, why? And if you tried breastfeeding and kept going, why? I hope you’ll take a few more moments to let me know!

Photos: Pecho y lectura by Daquealla manera; Nursing in public, the horror! by karynsig; Oh my God! by chispita

Co-Sleeping is Safe and Natural

I posted earlier about a “public [dis]service announcement” from the State of New York, against co-sleeping. This campaign did not educate about sleeping safely or even just “warn about the dangers of co-sleeping,” as the response stated. Rather, it showed a frightening image of a woman smothering her baby by accident with a voice-over that “babies sleep safest alone,” a statement NOT supported by the latest research.

I took some time to calm down and write a letter to my state. If you live in New York and wish to contact the department, you may do so here.

They responded, and I answered again. The state’s response is essentially that there were an alarming number of infant deaths in which co-sleeping was a factor. They do not take into account whether co-sleeping was a contributing or primary factor, nor do they compare this number with the number of infant deaths in cribs. Their reaction (scaring parents into not co-sleeping) is akin to saying that babies die in cars so, instead of promoting vehicular safety, they will launch a campaign discouraging parents from taking their baby in a car at all, ever.

In searching for the campaign online, I discovered that many other states have similar campaigns. Please be on the lookout to see if there is a campaign in your state and let me know in the comments. I will be posting a list of states that have these campaigns as I find them. If you write to your state, please share your letter in the comments and/or a link to your letter on your own blog.

Even if you are not a co-sleeper, please support the right of others to do so!

Other States With Campaigns (with links to the department to which you may address your concerns)

Florida, Indiana (news stories; looking for the link), Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri (found the St. Louis link, working on the state link), New York

Open Letter to New York State Office of Children Services

Dear New York State Office of Children and Family Services,

I expect official offices of my state government to use my tax dollars and launch helpful, well-researched campaigns only when necessary. So, I was dismayed to see your television “public service announcement” claiming that “babies sleep safer alone.”

Perhaps whatever committee approve this advertisement is unaware that co-sleeping, when done safely, has a whole host of benefits. Not only do parents and children who co-sleep have the opportunity to bond and get more sleep and thrive, co-sleeping, when done safely, also reduces the risk of SIDS.

Dr. Sears, a prominent pediatric authority, has written a well-researched and clear article about the benefits of co-sleeping, including its possible effect on reducing SIDS. Theories about this aspect of co-sleeping include the idea that babies who co-sleep sleep lighter and therefore wake up more easily in case of a problem, mothers are more attuned to their baby’s sleep patterns when sharing a bed, and that the parents’ heart and breathing rhythms may even help form baby’s.

Before I continue, I assure you I am no zealot. I firmly believe each family should choose the arrangement that works best for its circumstances. Personally, I did not begin co-sleeping with my daughter until she was already close to a year old, and then only part of the night.

What concerns me is that your campaign of misinformation will scare parents into making decisions that may not be right for their families.

A far more honest campaign would discuss sleep safety in general. As with most parenting, co-sleepers must plan ahead and be drug-free to ensure their baby’s safety.

Baby’s sleep space, whether a crib or an adult bed, should be firm and free from excess clutter and fabric. If you choose to co-sleep, remove all heavy blankets and excess pillows from the bed. If you use recreational or prescription drugs that may affect your sleep patterns, baby may be safer in a crib. Consult your physician if you have concerns about prescription medications.

New and exciting research is getting us that much closer to understanding and preventing SIDS. We now know that placing baby on his back, ensuring a smoke free environment, and eliminating suffocation hazards are all actions that reduce SIDS deaths. For the time being, however, we cannot explain SIDS deaths. What we do know is that there are key ways that parents can better ensure infant sleep safety.

Instead of wasting money on factually suspect scare tactics, spend our tax dollars on a campaign that reflects the best science and educates parents to make the right decisions for their children.

Their Response

Thank you for contacting the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) on June 29, 2008.

The statewide Babies Sleep Safest Alone campaign was developed as a result of an alarming number in fatalities reported to the New York Statewide Central Register of Child Abuse and Maltreatment (SCR), where co-sleeping was a factor listed in the narrative of the report. Since
2006, 89 deaths were reported to the SCR in this category. Out of that number, 68 deaths involved infants between 0 and 3 months old, and 17 involved babies between 4-12 months old. The remainder fell in the 1 to 5 years old category.

Our campaign materials alert parents about the dangers of co-sleeping and the factors that can cause an infant’s death while sharing a bed with an adult or an older sibling. We are aware that co-sleeping is a controversial topic and are confident that educated parents will take
the necessary precautions to prevent an accidental death, which is the goal of this multilingual statewide campaign.

Our Babies Sleep Safest Alone campaign supports the American Academy of Pediatrics strong stance against co-sleeping and recognizes the risk factors that can potentially harm your child.

Thank you again for your input and concern.

My Response

Your campaign fails to take into account the latest research. The AAP is not the final word. Look at the research available and you will see that co-sleeping SIDS deaths are a tiny number compared to crib SIDS deaths.

First, consider whether co-sleeping was actually happening in these reports–ie a baby in an bed, with an adult, without excess bedding. Eliminate falls from babies sleeping alone on a bed,”couch” co-sleeping, and deaths that are actually drug or alcohol related and you’ll have a different number.

Then, compare that number to SIDS deaths in cribs.

Tell me, how many babies died of SIDS in their cribs in New York?

I think you’ll find that co-sleeping safely is even safer than crib sleeping safely.

Your campaign does not discuss any of these issues. It makes a blanket statement that “Babies Sleep Safest Alone,” which isn’t true, and shows an image of a mother accidentally smothering her child, which is not what happens.

Tax dollars should not be spent on a campaign that uses scary images to take an irresponsible stand, which does not reflect the best research, on a controversial topic.

Put the money towards a campaign for safe sleep spaces, whether that be a crib or a bed, and I would be 100% behind that campaign.

Babies Sleep Safest Alone…NOT!

Right now I’m pretty P.O.’ed.

I saw a commercial for this trash about how “babies sleep safer alone.” The campaign is NY-based, but in searching for the site, I found that they have similar campaigns in a bunch of states.

What is so aggravating is that it is patently false. Co-sleeping when done safely reduces the risk of SIDS.

Honestly, we did not start off as co-sleepers. My daughter slept in a “co-sleeper” side car for a variety of reasons. But at times when co-sleeping worked for us, that’s what we did. So, it is not that I think everyone must do what I do…what is aggravating me is the idea that these government agencies are conducting a campaign of blatant misinformation to scare parents into making decisions that may not be right for their families.

A more honest campaign would be to say: Baby’s sleep space should be free from excess clutter and fabric. If you choose to co-sleep, remove all heavy blankets and excess pillows from the bed. If you use recreational or prescription drugs that may affect your arousal, baby may be safer in a crib. Consult your physician if you have concerns about prescription medications.

I’ll calm down, collect my thoughts, write up a letter and send it here and then post it, but in the meantime, you may also want to see if there is a similar campaign in your state.

You can find more information about Attachment Parenting Practices, including co-sleeping, at the Attachment Parenting Institute. (Thanks to Katja for the reminder)

And as a reward for your hard work, go have a few laughs with these co-sleeping comics.

Week 20: You Gotta Have Heart

Skipping way ahead to current day. I’m in week 20 and I just had the fetal echo cardiogram. Because my daughter was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, they wanted to check out Junior (oh, yeah, BTW–IT’S A BOY!).

All looks well and I’ve been cleared to proceed as “normal.”

Which begs the question for me, what is normal? I had a midwife last time in Texas, and I’ve found a good midwife practice here in New York. However, I didn’t have the most pleasant labor experience last time around. How much of that was exacerbated or alleviated by being in a hospital, it is hard to say.

Part of me is really starting to feel like hospitals are great–for sick people. But a normal pregnant woman with a normal baby isn’t sick. And it isn’t just the horror stories of healthy pregnant women catching rare awful things from other patients…I’m also just really thinking about why hospitals are necessary for birth.

I’m a fan of Hathor and Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and I’ve been listening and reflecting on what they have to say about home births and the importance of feeling comfortable in your birthing place.

The benefits (in my mind) of a home birth is that it feels more natural and normal to me and I’ll have privacy and can birth the way I wish. The barriers to a home birth include the limited number of nurse-midwives in my area who will attend, the comfort level of other essential participants, and inertia. After all, the path of least resistance is to just go to the hospital. Which is strange, isn’t it? You would think that the easiest thing to do would be to just stay put, but somehow decades of pop culture have made it seem far more normal to rush into a speeding car, climb into a wheel chair, and be propped up in an unfamiliar bed.

My husband missed the birth last time (he was in Iraq), and he is looking forward to it. But I think he would feel more confident having his first time (and yes, his opinion does count here) in a hospital. I can’t forget that although I have a previous experience, this is all fairly new to him.

So, if anyone is actually out there reading…I’d love to hear your experiences with home birth. And I would REALLY love some words of wisdom from your partners. How did they feel about the home birth, before, during and after? Did they need convincing? What made them go for it? How was it? Would they want to do it again?

Attachment Parenting International (API) Announces Their New Website

I’m pretty excited about this announcement. I chose to follow the philosophy of attachment parenting before I even knew what it was or met my child. Promoting healthy attachment with your child seems to be the most normal way to parent. Once my child was born and her heart defect discovered, I honestly believe that this approach helped me keep my sanity (or what I had of it to begin with) and save her life. I’m hoping that the new API website, forums, and classes, will help all parents find their own best way of raising their children and clear up some of the misconceptions about Attachment Parenting**.

If you are interested in talking more about Attachment Parenting with me. I have started posting each of the eight principles of attachment parenting, beginning with preparation for pregnancy, birth, and parenting. So far no one has bitten (on the blog at least, we’re having a great discussion at Maya’s Mom)…but I do hope you’ll drop on my and share your thoughts.

Attachment Parenting International (API), a non-profit organization that promotes parenting practices that create strong, healthy emotional bonds between children and their parents, has several exciting changes they would like to announce, including:
  • A newly redesigned web site and new logo at Attachment Parenting.org;
  • Attachment parenting worldwide support forums;
  • Parent Education Program – a comprehensive series of classes for every stage and age of child development from infancy through adulthood;
  • A new book based on API’s Eight Principles of Attachment Parenting by API co-founders Lysa Parker and Barbara Nicholson which is expected to be available this summer;
  • A series of podcasts, webinars, chats, and forums with API Advisory Board members and other supporters of AP. Future events are scheduled with Dr. Bob Sears, Dr. James McKenna, and Kathleen Kendall Tacket. Check out the events page for more information.

These are just a few of many exciting things going on at API. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out for yourself.

** I was getting wordy, so I’ll add this down here. Common Misconceptions I’ve Encountered About Attachment Parenting:

MYTH: If you don’t do everything an expert says, you aren’t following attachment parenting.

REALITY: AP is a philosophy of parenting, not a plan that must be followed step by step. There are many practices that are common among AP parents, and fit the AP philosophy better than other practices, but there is no litmus test. A lot of parents seem tired of so-called experts telling them what to do. And they think AP is just another example. The truth is that there is no “leader” of AP. It is a heterogeneous movement, not an orthodox one. While Dr. Sears’s books can seem a bit overwhelming, I’ll admit, if you are exhausted, even he is clear that each family must find its own balance.

MYTH: AP will make your child needy, entitled, and overdependent.

REALITY: Research suggests otherwise. By forming a strong bond of trust, your child will feel freer to explore. Your child is more likely to follow your lead, in terms of behavior. The idea is that a lot of “acting out” is done because a child’s basic needs aren’t being met–once the child trusts those needs will be met, he or she is less likely to “misbehave.” This one gets my goat, a bit, because I find it insulting when, during a theoretical debate, someone counters that “all the AP children they know are brats.” Anecdotes don’t really hold up as solid arguments, the parents and children aren’t there to defend themselves, and who knows what they are really doing as parents? Attachment Parenting isn’t giving your child everything he or she wants…it is taking the journey together.

MYTH: If you start a pattern of attachment now, you’ll have to continue (breastfeeding, co-sleeping, babywearing, etc.) forever.

REALITY: The pattern you are creating is one of trust. It is the expectation that you will help your child fulfill his or her needs. Obviously the form this takes will change over time…initially your child is all need and parental involvement is necessary to fulfill those needs. Gradually, with your help, your child will distinguish between needs and wants. Eventually, the child will be able to meet many of his or her own needs (with age-appropriate assistance) and learn to wait or do without certain wants. For most of human existence, people parented this way and still produced healthy, functioning adults. I promise, you will not have a breastfeeding, co-sleeping 20 year old, who needs to worn in a sling.