Tag Archives: attachment parenting

A Not So Very Big Deal Kind of Day

“I just realized I should have called you before I did this… but I gave away our crib today,” I said, as soon as he answered the phone.

“Just get a picture before you take it apart,” he said.20130701-143311.jpgIt wasn’t all the way apart.  And to be honest, this is as “in the crib” as Lucy ever got in the last two years.  So, it was kind of a non-event.

I took apart the crib and gave it away.

That sounds like a Big Deal, like a milestone.  “Awww, hold old is your baby? Is she moving in to a toddler bed?”

The “baby” is not even 18 months old but it doesn’t make any sense to keep stuffed animals in a gigantic cage.  In fact, I am not even really sure why we had so many damn stuffed animals and I gave away a trash bag of those today, too.

She isn’t moving in to a toddler bed.  In fact, when she moves out of our bed and in to her own it will be a step down.  She will be moving from a King to a Queen.  Poor kid.20130701-143303.jpg

I briefly considered looking at bedding online.  But it is hard to find whimsical kid bedding in a Queen size.  I spent a year and a half wedged in a twin bed with Emily when she “moved in to her own bed” and I am not making that mistake again. So, a Queen size bed it is for this kid.

And really, by the time she moves in to her own room she probably won’t want a whimsical kid room, anyway, right? I should probably get some kind of side table so she has a place for her cup of coffee, huh? I’m guessing she will be reading and drinking coffee by the time she moves out of our room.  She has a comfortable chair; she just needs a table.  Kid will be Virginia Woolf’ing it up by her 17th birthday, max.  But I am ready.

In the meantime, we are booking the Guest Room for the remainder of the summer season.

20130701-143256.jpg

I can’t describe the feeling when I’m in my bed asleep…

Co-sleeping with a crawling baby is an adventure.  Snuggling up with your tiny newborn is easy to imagine.  Even someone that is not an advocate of co-sleeping has likely fallen asleep with a newborn on their chest so they can understand the powers of the sleeping baby.

But the sleep arrangements now that the goose is loose? It’s a whole new game.  A bedrail helps to contain her.  I am teaching her how to get off the bed, dangling her little legs off the side until they hit the floor instead of diving head first.  You get used to waking up with a little person sitting on your arm.  Or your face.  Or standing on your pillow.

Lots of people that co-sleep with their newborn begin to transition him/her in to a crib around this time.  If you’re not wild about having fingers in your nose or getting kicked in the groin it could be the wisest choice.  Unless, of course, you ever want to get any sleep.  As a newborn Lucy slept like a rock.  She woke to nurse once, maybe twice, in a night.  Since she has started crawling everywhere, cruising along the furniture and battling with the dog for his new bone she doesn’t have the time to devote to eating during the day.  She will nurse a handful of times during the day but it is a quick snack.  She does the bulk of her eating at night, when there is nothing better to do.  I can’t blame her.

If I want to get any sleep at all and she wants to marathon nurse all night I do not see an end to our current sleeping arrangements anytime soon.

People love to ask “So, how is she sleeping?” and ordinarily I say “Great!” or my all time favorite “Like a baby!” because any answer at all only invites advice.  And for the most part unless you are a been there done that co-sleeper/breastfeeder/baby led wean-er (ha! Baby led weaning is the term for skipping pureed food and letting your baby eat solid food when they are ready.  Baby led weiners – I have no idea what that entails) than even well-meaning advice falls on deaf ears.

I slept poorly throughout my pregnancy.  Lucy is nearly eight months old.  So, it is fair to say I have not “slept through the night” in well over a year.  I am used to it.  And while it is no secret that I am vehemently opposed to sleep-training an infant I am dangerously close to letting myself cry it out.  Me.  I might cry it out. Face down on the floor while Goose climbs on the dog.  Fish can look after her for an hour, right?

Because I am tired, guys. Nursing a baby takes a lot out of you.  And not just sleep.  Water.  I drink at least a gallon of water a day.   I am pretty good at getting myself a glass of water.  I went in the kitchen to get a glass of water just now.

Yup.  A bowl of water.  Sigh.  I’m tired, y’all.

Probably not the last time I will bring this up…

It might be hard to see the “baby” while she is in her Mary Tyler Moore pose. But I nursed my baby until she was almost three and a half years old.

I know I said I was going to try not to yammer on and on about my parenting choices, specifically to breastfeed on demand for as long as my baby and I want to…. but I can’t help it.  Below is a post from another blog.  I contributed to debunking toddler myths.

 

Emily, feeding her baby.

 

Toddler Nursing Myths Debunked

Myth: Breastfeeding will ruin your boobs!

Truth: Your breasts will inflate through your pregnancy and engorgement when your milk comes whether your nurse your babies or not! Vanity has been known to get the best of me.  I’ll admit it.  I’ll even confess that some decisions I made about my health might have been motivated by said vanity, said the girl who quit smoking in her youth when she realized it would ruin her skin before it ravaged her lungs. If you fall in to the camp of women that occasionally puts a little too much focus on the outside instead of the inside you’ll be glad to know that breastfeeding your kids is not responsible for your boobs going South!  Gravity and the swelling of the breasts during pregnancy and engorgement take the greatest toll on the skin responsible for holding those big, beautiful mammaries in place and there is no escaping that!  So, go ahead and do a few push ups and nurse your kiddos!  Throw in some chest presses with a five pound hand weight and those gorgeous boobs that are a cup size bigger than normal will be back front and center where you like them before you know it.

Myth:  Extended nursing will create a co-dependent, needy child.

Truth:  Letting your child wean on their own time fosters independence!!   A child that reconnects with their mother regularly and believes that they can always come back to the safety of a parent is far more likely to boldly step out on their own. Weaning becomes an act that the child participated in achieving.  I can recall sending my daughter off to her first day of school. Anticipating a little bit of anxiety on her part (and holding back my own tears) I said “Go ahead, big girl.  Mommy will be right here after school.”  Off she went, secure in the knowledge that she can return to me.    Obviously, nursing is not the only way to create an environment of loving, kindness.  But for many families it is the cornerstone of the mother-child bond.  Regular (albeit brief as anyone who has ever seen a busy toddler drive-by nursing can attest to!) breastfeeding of a toddler gives both the child and the mother a perfect opportunity to stop and reconnect, re-affirm in a biological way the connection between mother and child.  This affirmation gives the child confidence to move forward. The proof is in the pudding, as they say.  Here’s a picture of my independent daughter taking off on her first day of school.

She never looked back.  And as for the first myth?  Stop by and see me at www.excitementontheside.com  You’ll see my boobs if you hang around a while.  :)

-Kelly from excitementontheside.com

Myth: Breastfeeding past a certain age is sexual.

As a nursing mother who advocates child-led weaning, I have encountered my fair share of myths about extended breastfeeding, ranging from mildly amusing to downright frightening.  One of the most ridiculous myths I’ve encountered is the idea that once a child reaches a certain age (often 1 or 2 years), breastfeeding stops being about child nourishment and bonding, and becomes an inappropriate act with sexual connotations.  Even more concerning is the archaic (and insultingly unfounded) theory that a mother who nurses beyond 2 is compromising her child’s sexual development in some aspect.  And by far, the most offensive and absurd manifestation of the myth is that breastfeeding a toddler is equal to sexual abuse/incest.

Sadly, I believe that the old “perception is reality” adage applies here; if a person declares something as sexual, then for them, it is sexual.  After all, some adults are turned on by the act of diapering another adult, an act that is definitely not inherently sexual.  So, in our western world, a culture wherein breasts are highly sexualized, it isn’t surprising that the act of extended breastfeeding is seen as sexual by so many people.  It isn’t shocking that mothers who nurse toddlers in the U.S. are ridiculed and scorned, in spite of the fact that the majority of human beings on our planet breastfeed beyond age 1, and that the average age for a child to wean naturally is between 3-5 years.  Most of the naysayers, when met with facts and education about the realities of extended breastfeeding, still view it as shocking and disgusting.  But the bottom line is, it doesn’t matter if one person or one billion people share an opinion; their combined opinions do not form a fact.  There is nothing inherently sexual about breastfeeding.

So, how does a nursing mother go about debunking such baseless absurdity?   It can indeed prove to be an exercise in futility.  It has been my unfortunate experience that people who think extended breastfeeding is “weird” do not have open minds, and are not receptive to learning anything that might expose their point of view as irrational and inane.  But I am always willing to offer a person links to literature that endorses extended breastfeeding — literature which comes from highly respected and reputable doctors (such as Dr. Bill Sears), anthropologists (such as Katherine A. Dettwyler, Ph.D), health organizations (i.e. W.H.O.), numerous medical journals, etc.  However, my favorite factoid to pass along is that, to date, there is NO research or data that points to breastfeeding a toddler as being a damaging act, sexually, or otherwise.  So, what most effectively debunks the “nursing a toddler is sexually inappropriate” myth is what is not there to begin with — a shred of evidence to back the claim.

-Elizabeth Daniels,  Brandon FL

Myth: It’s not necessary to nurse past one year because breast milk loses its nutritional value.

Reality: Not true. Not even a little true. Actually the opposite is true! Immune benefits actually increase the older the child gets. Breast milk changes and adjusts as your baby grows. Condensing the nutritional properties of your milk and the immune benefits into the amount of milk you make. You know, like how a shot of espresso in your thirties does the work that the seventeen cups of coffee did in your twenties. So as solid food becomes the more prominent part of your little one’s diet, breast milk condenses all of the health benefits into the less milk they do consume. It’s magic really I love the fact that when one of my kids or I get sick, my milk is already transferring immune boosting bits of awesome and helping them fight their colds. But if you weren’t sold at “bits of awesome”, you can read about all this in more specific and intellectual language here (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/immunefactors/). And also here (http://kellymom.com/nutrition/milk/bmilk-composition/).

Issue: Breastfeeding mothers who think it’s weird/inappropriate/gross to nurse a child past a certain age.

I’ve heard this one a lot. A mom says, “I love breastfeeding! It was so awesome. But a two year old? A three year old? That’s weird.”
Just this week, my baby boy turned three. He nurses about once a day. Sometimes twice. He decides when. It is almost always when he is very tired or hurt. The times when he needs comfort and closeness. There have been many times that I thought he had weaned but, nope, he’s not ready yet. And that’s ok. When I first decided to nurse my children I thought I would wean them at one. I thought that is what you were supposed to do. But on the night of my son’s first birthday, as I nursed him to sleep, I saw him comforted and safe. Still a baby. Still needing to nurse. I was sure in that moment I would let him decide when to wean. But then, I got pregnant. He weaned during my pregnancy with his sister because he was frustrated that my milk was gone. It was traumatic for him and it broke my heart. He was 18 months old. When the milk returned and his baby sister came to be with us, he would watch as I nursed her and he seemed sad. I offered to nurse him. He nursed. He looked up to me and he smiled. And that moment is one I will never forget. His relief erasing the sadness of his first weaning. So the idea that this beautiful experience with my baby boy is seen as gross or weird just makes me sad. And to be honest, it makes me angry too. Every child is different. And every mother is different. No child can be expected to follow the same growth, development, or same anything of another child. Some children are ready to go to Kindergarten at four and half, some five, others at six. Everyone understands that. So then why would weaning be any different? There is no set age for when a child will naturally wean. My son is nursing less this month than he did last month. He seems to be doing just fine in determining when he is ready. He’ll get there. In his time. And it makes me happy to know that when he does wean, it will be on his terms.
For more information on weaning, you can start here (http://www.llli.org/ba/aug94.html )

-Colleen from theadventuresofthefamilypants.com

Myth: Once a child reaches a certain age, they should be given pumped breastmilk from a cup.

Coming from a place where I struggled throughout my breastfeeding journey to maintain my milk supply, it’s laughable to me when people comment that once my daughter turned one, that she no longer needed to breastfeed straight from “tap”, but rather, I should be pumping and giving her breast milk in a cup. The only party this benefits is, well, the people it makes uncomfortable to watch me nurse my toddler. Pumping is not an easy job. Breastfeeding is the easiest, formula feeding is harder, pumping is the hardest. Breast milk comes straight from the breast, is the perfect temperature, and the perfect amount per feeding. Formula comes mostly prepared, just add water (although there is washing, sterilizing bottles, and mixing the formula). Pumping takes a lot of time and energy to produce the right amount of milk, heating it to the perfect temperature, PLUS all the bottle washing, sterilizing all the components of a pump, and adhering to the very specific rules of proper storing. Then there are the potential issues you can run into like I did. I had to return to work when my daughter was 4 months old. I pumped at work three times a day and since I have always dealt with low supply, I struggled to maintain a milk supply to supplement the time I was away from home. It’s not as easy as putting cones on your breasts and turning a machine on and the milk just comes pouring out. It is a very intricate process that left me drained at the end of the day and wishing I could toss that machine in the trash. I suppose to really understand why pumping is not an easy task, you must first understand how our breasts function during breastfeeding. Prolactin must be present for milk synthesis to occur. When the breast is full, prolactin cannot enter the prolactin receptors, so the rate of milk synthesis decreases. When the breast is emptied, prolactin can now pass through the receptors and milk synthesis increases. This is now where I make my point: PUMPING DOES NOT EFFECTIVELY REMOVE MILK FROM THE BREAST LIKE A CHILD DOES. When the breast is not properly being emptied often, milk supply dramatically decreases. In order to maintain an efficient supply to pump and then give in a cup, one would spend their entire day attached to a machine. It is just more logical to nurse directly from the breast than to struggle to maintain a supply just to make a few people more comfortable. Besides, if I’m nursing in my own home (seeing as how most toddlers nurse only a handful of times a day or less­­—that number drops even more the older they get) who does nursing my toddler affect? No one, except my nursling and me.

-Courtney

**Jamie’s note- Courtney beautifully summed up the stress of pumping and how it does not always work with our anatomy. This myth bugs me so much I thought I’d chime in, too. Breastfeeding has much more to it than nutritional value. Breastfeeding also serves a way to comfort, bond, and build emotional attachment with your child (this is not the only way to bond and attach, but it is definitely one of many). Would you hug your child using a machine or your own arms? Breastfeeding should not be avoided just because someone else does not understand it. **

Myth: If you breastfeed your baby past infancy they will not learn to eat enough solid foods.

I know a lot of people think that extended (after 6 months, after 12 months after any one of a number  of ages) nursing will mean a baby/child will not eat enough solid food.  I have heard pediatricians tell moms who’s 8 month olds are not excited by solids tell them to cut out a nursing session or two.  I can totally see why people would think this.  If a couple of assumptions our society makes were true then this would be reasonable.  But those assumptions are flawed.  Assumption number one, all babies do things on a set schedule.  Assumption number two, nursing is just about food.

Assumption 1.  Babies do everything on their own schedule, the range of normal is massive.  A baby can be just fine and walk at 9 months or at 13.   A baby can start speaking at one year or two.  And a baby might love solids at 6 months (and may indicate readiness by pulling your food off your plate and stuffing it into their mouth) or be resistant and just experiment until they are 18 months.  There are a lot of nursing moms who find their kids take to solids with great gusto and there are a lot of formula feeding moms who are still giving their younger toddler most of their calories that way.  My personal experience is a mostly formula fed kiddo who only really started eating for calories at about 16 months and a nursing little one who ate larger servings than her big brother by the time she was 8 months old.  She is still nursing at two and a half.  And she still eats more than he does many days (he is 4).

Assumption 2.  Babies nurse for food, for comfort, for immunities, for cuddle time, for a whole bunch of reasons.  Nursing keeps happening even when babies are getting most of their nutrition from food, it just doesn’t happen every hour for 45 minutes like it does with newborns (or no mother could cope).  It happens in “drive by” sessions here and there through out the day.  Or as one nursing session while they fall asleep (or when they hurt themselves).  Or in a number of other scenarios.  The time frame for each child is different but I know a lot of mothers nursing 2 (and up) year olds and no-one is nursing them 8 times a day.

So babies can nurse into toddlerhood and eat solid food.

-Sarale

Myth: Nursing beyond infancy is more about the mother’s needs, than the child’s.

Of the many misconceptions that I have heard about toddler nursing, this is one that has me scratching my head the most. It’s one I hear with increasing frequency. That mothers who do not wean their children by a certain deadline are worried more about their own needs and attempt to artificially prolong dependency.

Anyone who has ever tried to cajole an unwilling toddler into doing….well anything….knows it’s not an easy task. Even something as simple as managing three meals a day can be an epic battle. “Let’s eat dinner.” “NO!” A child who is ready to wean will not continue to nurse. However, a mother may continue to nurse her child beyond her predicted timeline when she sees that it is still important to the well being of her individual child. Clearly, it is not a matter of an unwilling child continuing to nurse to meet mom’s needs.

People will say it’s about independence and discipline – that nursing mothers fail to discipline the child to become independent because the mother wishes to have him dependent as long as possible. So, the thinking is that in order to meet a child’s needs, mom must push him towards independence by weaning even if he isn’t ready? Couldn’t this be construed as mom trying to force her will to have an “independent” child to meet her own needs? Why can’t we just assume that as parents we are ALL trying to meet our children’s needs in the best way we know how?

Children don’t go from infant to big kid overnight; it is a slow process. And emerging independence is a part of that process. As parents, we look for the cues from our individual children. For some of us, that includes when a child is ready to wean. And yes, mom’s needs are considered, although typically that means setting limits on nursing over time to achieve a balance between a need for space and a child’s need to nurse. It’s really not any different than any other element of the parent-child relationship over the course of childhood.

-MD

This seems like yesterday….

Judgy McJudge

In light of the recent TIME magazine cover stirring up so much talk about parenting styles I have found myself feeling inclined to defend my parenting choices. But I have remained quiet. Once you start to defend yourself everything goes to shit. How I choose to feed my kids, or where they sleep or how I discipline isn’t really up to the woman behind me in line at the grocery store that tries to strike up a conversation. And while it is not really up to my friends and family either I am fortunate enough to have trusting and understanding people around me that respect our decisions to parent our children in the best way we see fit.

I have tried to avoid the comments online. I don’t really need to know that strangers think nursing your toddler is disgusting and that bed-sharing is appalling. I am confident in my beliefs. I read. I researched. And then I listened to my heart. So far, so good. Em is almost seven. She loves me. She remembers nursing and speaks fondly of those stolen moments at night before she fell asleep as a nursing toddler. And she sleeps in her own bed now. Lucy will do all of those things, too.

Attachment Parenting can be tough on a father during the first few months. MQD is a believer in bed-sharing. I really should let him snuggle with the real, live baby sometimes.

I try very hard not to judge other mothers. “Mommy guilt,” the “mommy wars,” pretty much any descriptor that begins with “mommy” makes my skin crawl. They all seem to set up a divide. You’re in or you’re out. While I have dear friends that parent very differently than I do I know they love their kids. And that’s enough for me. And the Mommies that I don’t know personally? I try not to judge them, too. I try to assume (and yes, I know what happens when you assume) that they love their kids, too.

But don’t get me wrong. I do judge. Silently. On the inside. I try not to. I examine my instincts to question someone’s choices all while remaining indignant over the questioning of my own. Perhaps judge is the wrong word. There is not always a value associated with my thought process. Sometimes I just wonder why. Why wouldn’t you want to XYZ (insert a parenting technique that works for me.) While I do believe that many of the eight principles of attachment parenting truly do lay the groundwork for growing exceptional, kind and compassionate children I also believe that attachment parenting studies provide the research to support what I’d want to do anyway. Hold on. Tight. To that little creature that is gonna grow up so damn fast. Don’t miss a minute. And above all show and teach them loving kindness. While they eat, while they sleep, while they are disciplined. And as I said yesterday loving my people, that’s my jam. It rings my bell.

I saw a woman at the airport sitting next to her infant. She was reading a magazine. Baby had a bottle propped on a blanket in their carrier. “Bottle propping” is dangerous due to the risk of asphyxiation. There’s that. But the baby was eating. Alone. And Mom? She was reading a news magazine. There is nothing that makes you smile in a news magazine. It made me sad. Not the bottle, feed your kid what you want and how you want (unless, of course, you ask me what I think.) But the disconnect. The lack of joy.

There is so little opportunity to communicate with an infant successfully, so many moments when you wish you knew what they wanted or needed, when their crying little eyes stare in to yours and you hope against hope that they know you are trying so hard to understand and that you love them enough to walk through fire.

But the simple moment when a nursing baby (and I would assume it is true of a bottle fed baby, as well) looks up at you while they munch away with big, wide eyes and you say “You were hungry, baby?” I wouldn’t give that up. Not for a Newsweek. Because in that moment I know without a shred of doubt I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. I need those moments. You were hungry. I am feeding you. Win win. To push back to the back of my head all the moments where I thought “what the shit do you want?? You are fed and dry and rested!! Please!! I don’t speak baby!!!!” followed up with the over tired leap to “I am a FAILURE as a mother!!!!”

So, the bottle-propping mother gets a raised eyebrow. But alongside the judgement is a question. Don’t you know you’re missing it? A moment where you would be rewarded with a gold star on your Mommy Chart.

And then yesterday afternoon I was sitting with Lucy. I thought of that mother at the airport. It had been a long day. Lucy was eating. I chuckled. It’s not bottle propping if she can hold it herself, right? She is four months old and so capable and strong. Almost feeding herself, all fifteen independent little pounds of her. Too bad I couldn’t sneak away and pee all alone. 20120518-081618.jpg

Bed Buddies

I am a snuggler.  My big girl is a bed hog and my husband likes his space.  My dog will gladly let me sleep all wrapped up in him but he sheds like… well, a dog and he does not always smell fabulous.  For the better part of the last thirty-five years I have fallen asleep with my Snoopy in my arms.

My little girl is currently taking the place of my Snoopy.

20120409-121323.jpgCo-sleeping is an integral part of my parenting philosophy. It is also an excellent way to go to bed at 8:15 for the first year of your child’s life. I rock in my chair and hold my sweet girl and eventually I say that I am going to “put her to bed.” Those unaccustomed to my techniques might wrongfully assume that I will come back out of my bedroom at some point. It’s not likely. Snuggled with my girl, lights out, pajamas on… no promise of a glass of wine, a movie, an adult conversation can keep my eyes open long. And even if I can stay awake until she is peacefully slumbering there is always the risk that she will wake and I’ll be gone. And then we will have to start all over with our bedtime song and dance.

I don’t know how many times I have written of my love for Snoopy. I love him. I do. And last night I loved him even more.  It seems I can sneak out of bed if Snoopy hops in my place, nestled against Lucy he keeps her warm and smells like Mom.

20120409-104429.jpg

Like a baby…

Co-Sleeping, specifically bed sharing,  is a hot button for a lot of parents.  Whether you sleep with your kids in your bed, in a crib, in a bassinet, it seems to matter to people.  How often do they wake  up?  How long do they sleep and even more importantly how do they get to sleep at all?  Do you hold them? Rock them? Nurse them?

When Em was little I spent a fair amount of time thinking about why everyone seemed to care so much about how long she slept?  Even strangers in the grocery store would say “What a pretty baby…” and then quietly ask “How does she sleep?” in a hushed, secretive  tone as if they were asking after your 85 year old great uncle’s 20 year old girlfriend.

I thought there was certainly a right or wrong answer.  And I quickly realized that for every person that asked there was a different right and a different very, very wrong answer.  I developed a quick and easy response “She sleeps like a baby, of course.”  That seemed to satisfy the strangers.  And I am fortunate enough to have friends and family that largely believe that how we choose to parent (including feeding and putting to bed) our kids is really not their problem.

That having been said… I feel pretty strongly about the choices we make as parents.  And one of the things I feel most strongly about is where my babies sleep.  With me.  Maybe some day I will write a big long informational blog post about safe bed sharing  and the numerous reasons that I believe it benefits both the parents and the baby.

But today?  Today I just want to share one reason why I like to sleep with my babies.  And it has nothing at all to do with the attachment, the ease of night nursing, the increased safety and decreased risk of SIDS in belly-to-belly, nose-to-nose sleeping by the mother and infant…. it has nothing to do with the sleeping at all.

It’s the waking up.

I am a morning person generally.  I like the morning. The quiet.  The promise that a fresh day holds.  But now, when sleep often eludes me for hours, even days at a time, it is harder to awake with a song in my heart.  Or even a kind word.

But if Lucy slept in another room…  I’d still be waking up just as often, to comfort her, to feed her, to change her.

But I’d miss the morning.  The moment she opens her eyes.  And finds the whole world all over again.  I’d do anything to spend five minutes inside her head.  See things as she does.  And the moment she wakes, her grabby hands on my face, her little feet digging in to my pajama pants, her big toe stuck in my belly button, this is as close as I can get.  And I wouldn’t miss it for the world.