when i was pregnant all i could seem to do was research birthy stuff. i wanted to know everything and anything about birth, my options, and glean as much as i could from others’ experiences and comments. i didn’t do a ton of baby related research, besides strollers and toys and all that STUFF. i knew i wanted to “wear” keaton as a baby much more than put him in a stroller, i knew i wanted to breastfeed for as long as i could, and i knew i wanted what was best for him. i didn’t do much research beyond that, really.
so after keaton was born i kind of had a moment. a moment where i thought- holy cow, i KNEW a baby was at the end of all of this, but i don’t know what to do now! of course that feeling subsided as we got to know each other better, but it still lingered. i started to do a little googling around during keaton’s intermittent naps, as well as the seemingly endlessly long breastfeeding marathons that defined our first few weeks together. i read up on different parenting styles and realized that i seemed like i was pretty attachment parenting oriented. the choices we had made thus far, for the most part, and the ideas we had about parenting seemed to have fallen in line with this style and it seemed to make the most sense to me. here is an easy to read, easy to understand, very brief overview.
we bed shared with keaton, i “wore” him, i breastfed, i was staunchly against any kind of crying it out method, and i genuinely tried to attune to his needs and his feelings and fostered a sense of empathy and understanding between the two of us.
after weeks of keaton, or us, not sleeping well i began to break down. i understood i had a newborn but i NEEDED sleep. i thought, if only i could put him in the crib- but apparently that would just completely damage him for life, or so i read, and read stories of women beating their chests about it. bed-sharing was just not going the way i wanted it to, the way i read it was supposed to- a joyful family, a happy baby who could breastfeed at will, and a much more calm atmosphere. trevor was lagging hardcore at work, keaton wasn’t getting much sleep, i was awake the majority of the night. and this is after weeks of trying. perhaps if we went further it would’ve been different, but honestly, at that point, i didn’t want to keep trying. and in a moment of sheer exhaustion, and feeling like a complete failure AP parent, we test drove the crib out. whatdoyaknow? keaton slept. and slept. and slept. 10 hours. got up and nursed and slept 3 more hours. this pattern continued night after night. this worked for us. the crib is his sanctuary. and our bed is ours. it wasn’t what we originally intended, but it worked for us. and i don’t feel bad about it.
eventually keaton’s sleep regressed and we (me) were up every couple hours with him. i was back to wondering what would work. in another dose of feeling like a completely incompetent mom because of the AP articles i had read, i decided to let him cry the first time he got up one night- literally because i didn’t know what else to do and, honestly, i selfishly wanted to sleep. i knew he could go longer without milk, i knew he was okay. i just KNEW it. he cried for 8 or 10 minutes, seemingly like an eternity, and went back to bed. for the rest of the night. no more triple or quadruple wakings. the whole night. the next night i braced myself for another go-round in the crying factory … and nothing. the whole night. and since then, for the most part, it’s been the WHOLE night. had i not let him cry that i night i don’t know what would have become of our sleeping patterns, but i firmly stand behind letting him cry that night. and it didn’t seem to cause any brain damage, as i had read over and over again. i asked an AP friend about it and she said even 5 minutes, so she had read, can have detrimental affects on their trust levels as well as their brain function. i think the issue here becomes some people are so staunchly behind what they believe in that the facts gets jumbled, and people begin to feel scared, or feel less than. which is not the way i want to go about living my life. with her “research” of 5 minutes causing brain damage and trust issues, i began to think: i don’t know any parent who hasn’t had a crying baby in the backseat of the car for more than 5 minutes who has worried about brain damage or losing their baby’s trust- sometimes you just gotta drive, get to your destination, and calm baby down there. or at least i do! nowadays i will nurse him in the middle of the night if he gets up, but it’s so few and far between.
and i still let him cry a bit when he goes down for a nap or to sleep at night. sometimes he just has a bit of energy that a few minutes of crying releases (read: he never cries for more than 5 minutes when he does this, by no real intrusion of mine, that’s just him), and then he falls asleep. i completely rest in the fact that my baby trusts me and knows that i will be there when he needs me, even in the midst of letting him do this. and that if his physiological needs are met (clean diaper, full belly) he can fall asleep. sure he might want to be rocked a bit longer or might want to stay up and party- but his signs of tiredness (literally signing “sleep” as well as his other tell-tale signs) outweigh that. he uses a pacifier still and has since very early on. i know many a parent who has given me the stink eye because of it, too. we never put him on a schedule, but he has always been great at telling us when he’s at his limit. and when he hits his limit he gets a new diaper, some milk, some comforting rocks and snuggle time, and down he goes. if he is upset about this, he can let me know. but it doesn’t last for long. and he succumbs to his exhaustedness. and you know what, i have no qualms about it. it works for US.
i still breastfeed keaton- after a rough start, we got into a great groove and it works for us. i wear keaton and that is because i have found two amazing carriers- the baby k’tan sling, and the boba carrier. couldn’t live without em. we are in the throws of figuring out our means of discipline and the AP style of gentle discipline is a beautiful concept. as we navigate through, i intend on taking tidbits from a lot of different areas in order to lead him in the right direction in his decision making processes. i am happy to be free of feeling like i NEED to fall in line with anything a certain parenting style suggests, as i like being able glean anything from anything. it’s more realistic. life is dynamic. parenting is dynamic. and i refuse to feel like i’m letting anyone else down in the decisions i make.
i still have some AP pieces to me, and in general i think it still describes the way we parent- the idea behind it, not necessarily all of the techniques. but, all in all, there came a time where i had to stop googling attachment parenting, and the subsequent feeling like a failure when things didn’t work for us, and just go with what actually DOES work for us. it’s not a distinct parenting style. but it’s ours. and it works. and my son is happy and feels cared for. and i feel like i am the best mom for him.
sooo…with that being said: you do you, i do me … and let’s raise some awesome, well-adjusted, sweetly cared for kids, okay?