One of my favorite parts about the end of a year is to look back and see what happened during the previous 12 months and look ahead to what the coming year may bring me. As I looked back over API Speaks, I decided to share with you a couple of posts from each month, an API Speaks 2009 Year in Review.
Last month, my 17 month old son had to stay overnight for an operation. It was a routine procedure, but I was still wracked with worry. It broke my heart when he cried for food the morning of the operation and I couldn’t give him anything. As we waited in the hospital for his surgery to begin, the nurses started bringing around breakfast and he’d point and sign ‘eat’, crying because he didn’t understand why we weren’t complying.
My son Cavanaugh is a little over two now and we recently embarked on night weaning. Night weaning then researching weaning for our API meeting last month got me thinking about breastfeeding in the Attachment Parenting community. So many of the AP mamas I know were planning on child-led weaning and many of them are changing their minds as their kids move further into toddlerhood. But a lot of us have mixed feelings about weaning, whether we decide to partially, gradually, or abruptly wean or to nurse as long as our kids feel like they need it.
Sleep associations can be extremely powerful for babies, children, and adults. When a baby first comes into the world, he is usually able to sleep just about anywhere but doesn’t sleep for long stretches. Over time, your baby’s ability to sleep anywhere will change and sleep associations will be created.
Last month, my two-year-old daughter had an MRI. She has an eye condition called strabismus, and will eventually have surgery to correct the problem. Prior to surgery, she needed the MRI to rule out any neurological causes behind the eye condition, and because she is only two, the procedure required sedation.
My daughter has just turned two. Breastfeeding is still going strong here and we have no plans to stop yet. However, when your child turns two, you expect them to be more independent and breastfeed less. At least that was my expectation.
I loved breastfeeding my daughter when she was a newborn. Her tiny body fit within the crook of my arm, and I treasured the feeling of cradling her there as she nursed. I loved seeing her take such immense comfort from me and my milk; nursing both soothed and sustained her. It was so peaceful . . . slow summer afternoons spent with her gazing softly up at me, hands clasped at her chest as though she was holding on to the most important thing in the world.
Between October and December my daughter had a major sleep regression where she would wake up in the middle of the night and wanted to play for endless hours. Very tough days…I tried giving up naps, moving her bed time, but nothing seemed to help.
When I was a younger mommy and parenting my first two children, I worried a lot about whether I was meeting expectations. Of course, my first priority was my children and their well-being, but right after that was making sure that I gave the impression of being confident, completely competent, and like I was the type of mom who could do it all. I adhered to the belief that I could have clean, well-dressed, well-behaved children who were a joy, all while being perfectly coiffed, stylishly dressed and madly successful. All I had to do was work hard enough, put in enough effort, and always be doing something. I could have it all.
In my almost five years as a mom, I’ve been lucky to avoid most of the controversial issues that pit parents against one another. I received mostly positive reinforcement and reactions over my decisions to breastfeed, stay at home, use discipline other than spanking, return to work part-time, wait an additional year to send my son to kindergarten and avoid processed foods.
So, after a discussion with my husband, we changed our shopping strategy. Out went the processed food and in came the wholesome goodness. Now, we are far from perfect and still have some processed food in the house, but what we buy we only buy after carefully examining the labels, and with the knowledge that in our journey, we are taking baby steps and will get there some day.
My son, my oldest child, is 7 1/2 years old and a rising second grader. For his entire life, he has always been the child who would never stray far from me, loves cuddles and physical contact. And he has stopped holding my hand in public.
My daughter is 2.5 years old and showing signs of weaning. At times when she would normally nurse, she is now telling me that my “na nas are broken” and is starting to nurse less and less. She is completely ready. I, however, am not.
My two and a half year old son Cavanaugh is asleep in my childhood room, the room I slept in throughout high school, weekends home from college, and which my mom still calls mine though I haven’t lived here in 21 years. Tonight is the second night my son has ever slept in a bed without me.
Good parents don’t get mad. They’re never tempted into power struggles with their children, no matter how violent a toddler’s tantrum or how venomous a pre-teen’s backtalk or how silent a teen’s cold shoulder. Good parents never have to raise their voices or say “no.”
As a child, I was raised in a “children should be seen and not heard” culture, and most of the talking was of the lecture sort, made by a parent, after I’d made my mistake. I was often not permitted to have input. It is very difficult to know what’s expected of you if you’ve never been told. I often felt frustrated and invalidated and it left me socially awkward and uncomfortable and more likely to make further mistakes.
My son doesn’t sleep well. He never has. He doesn’t sleep through the night, as per the textbooks, or sleep experts. He needs to nurse to fall asleep; he will co-sleep when he feels like it, but other night’s requests to be in his own bed, in his own space. He needs to have my shirt in his bed, snuggling up to it if he does sleep in his own bed. Some nights, he needs my husband or I to rub is back or stroke his hair before he finally gives into sleep. And, yes, he wakes up countless times during the night.
I got to be pretty good at brushing off the comments and ignoring the unwanted advice, but the more I looked into it, the more stories I heard about parents of breastfed babies being hassled by family members, strangers or even their own doctors about the lack of “adequate” weight gain, regardless of the size of the parents or the health of the child.
Whenever I pack our diaper bag, I include only necessities: two or three diapers, the changing pad, a handful of wipes, and a small notepad and pen. The notepad is a new inclusion, and is totally necessary. Anytime I forget it, I totally regret it. Why? Because every single time I snuggle Sweet Pea into his Moby Wrap at the store, or the park, or the university where Daddy teaches, someone says, “Wow, where’d you get that? My sister/my friend/my daughter could really use one!” This conversation though, is where my dilemma begins, because I am SO SOLD on the benefits of attachment parenting.
As a brand new mom to my first child, now 5, I suffered a lot of common breastfeeding ailments. Sore cracked nipples, engorgement, thrush, etc. With the help of a fantastic lactation consultant and plenty of advice from other moms, I was able to overcome those early difficulties and settle into the groove of nursing my newborn.
What does Attachment Parenting look like during the teen years? Is it all smooth sailing because we did our job in early childhood, carrying our babies in slings, giving them lots of love and attention, learning about positive discipline and empathic listening? Perhaps if we could raise our children in a vacuum, with no contact with the tsunami called American culture, we might have a chance!
When our oldest, Emily, was just shy of 3, we learned that she had Autism. It was such a stressful time in our little family’s life. Our baby, Alex was almost a year old and was crying all of the time for unknown reasons to us then and my husband’s job was rocky and unpredictable, therefore, so was our income. I just remember feeling like our world was falling apart. For days after the diagnosis, I mourned. I cried randomly, usually during one of Emily’s many meltdowns of the day.
“Mommy, do you know why I have all my pets around me when I sleep?”
“Because I never want to sleep alone!”
I am now into my fifth holiday season as an attached parent. Over the years my family has changed and grown, but one thing has remained true. Attachment parenting practices, like breastfeeding, babywearing and positive discipline, have made the holidays easier. They have smoothed the rough patches, helped me get things done, and provided everyone with a touchstone in the midst of the craziness that can happen at this time of year.
The holiday season is in full swing and as families get together for celebrations, they might find themselves faced with several challenges: co-sleeping while traveling, maintaining balance with so much going on, nurturing a new baby, and much more. There have been several posts here at API Speaks related to the holidays and so today, I thought I’d compile them all in one place – Attachment Parenting and the Holidays.
This is just a sampling of the wonderful posts published at API Speaks during 2009. I’d like to take this time to thank all of the wonderful bloggers and editors that make API Speaks what it is. I look forward to many more great posts in 2010.