Does Parenting Need a Label…

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Before our daughter was born, I didn’t have many pre-conceived ideas on parenting. I never made attempts to learn about different parenting styles or techniques. My partner and I went into it knowing there is no ‘right’ way to parent. We simply wanted to do what worked best for us.

Of course I read books about pregnancy and parenting in the lead up. The usual “What to expect” guides, mixed in with a few humour-based parenting books, simply giving us the brutal truth about birth, babies and pregnancy.

Mostly I wanted to learn “Keeping a newborn alive 101“. That was a good start!

When expecting we purchased all the usual baby essentials. Cot, clothes, nappies and everything in between. The nursery was decked out like something straight from an episode of a home renovation show, complete with the ‘had-to-have-it’ sleigh cot, matching dresser and rocking chair. It was so immaculate, it put the rest of the house to complete shame!

We scored a few pre-loved items as well, including the bassinette my sister used for her 2nd youngest. We set it up in our bedroom, intending to make use of it for the first couple of months before the baby outgrew it and graduated to her grand nursery.

Fast forward a couple of months to birth…

Here I was on that first night in hospital, after hubby had been sent home, alone with this tiny squawking newborn. What on earth do I do? I had no clue now that she was here and I was damn scared on my own with this fragile little person.

Every time I tried to put her in the hospital crib, she would wake and cry all over again. Finally after a sleepless first night and exhaustion beyond words, I fell asleep around 8am the next day with this tiny child in my arms, both eager for a few minutes of shut eye.

The 2nd night in hospital was more of the same. After a few more failed attempts to put the baby in the crib to sleep, I settled for upright sleeping with her in my arms, balanced on pillows. I was so nervous she would roll out of my arms or worse… but I could barely function as a human after no more than a few minutes sleep in almost 3 days.

It worked. While light & restless, even I managed a bit of sleep that night.

Breastfeeding had been slow to get the hang of and a big contributing factor for the late night cries. But once we got home that 3rd day, everything improved. Baby and I both started to figure out the breastfeeding thing. She happily napped in her bassinette at home. Plus I had hubby’s support to settle our little night owl.

She would always go to sleep really late. This lasted for the first few months and even now, it’s not unusual for her to go to sleep around 11pm. She would sleep til around 7am. Then I would simply collect her out of the bassinette and place he on a pillow on our bed so she was elevated for a feed. Then we’d all fall back asleep… me in true mother form… with one eye open, or so it seemed.

At 5 months she has pretty much outgrown the bassinette, but there came a new problem. Her nursery was too far from our room. We couldn’t bring ourselves to have her so far, even with the fancy video baby monitor we had purchased pre-birth.

Instead, hubby suggested she sleep with us. WHAT?

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At first I hated the idea… paranoid of all those stories about SIDS and suffocation. I would have her sleep on my side of the bed so she wasn’t between us and would keep a pillow on the edge to prevent rolling.

My comfort went out the window ensuring hers. Yet, I felt content knowing she was beside me, safe and sound. It was reassuring to have her so near.

I breast fed on demand so it was always easy having her there for feeds once she woke, as she would settle back to sleep and we could all sleep in til 10am. This was normal to me, as my sister had demand fed all of her 8 children. I assumed this was the way everyone did things.

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Our daughter is now 18 months old. She has never slept in her fancy sleigh cot. She sleeps in the middle of our king size bed and does a good job of taking up a lot of space.

We barely think anything of it now. While other parents complain of sleepless nights and constant exhaustion, it hasn’t really been the case. Demand feeding and co-sleeping pretty much eliminated that disruption.

The funny thing is, it wasn’t until a recent conversation with my mother in law about how different things were in her days of giving birth, being told to feed her babies on a schedule for example, that I realised there is probably a name for my parenting style…

Could it be? Was I an ‘attachment’ parent?

I’d heard the term before and heard mummy friend’s making jokes about attachment parenting, as if it were some crazy hippie style of parenting a child. Up until the other day, I had never really thought more of it though.

In fact, right along with my friends, I probably pictured an over-clingy parent, talking about spiritual connections, dreadlocks and carrying their baby in a sling… HA! Or perhaps an image of Lady Lysa from Game of Thrones and that disturbing episode she is breastfeeding her 10 year old? Yuck!!

So apparently attachment parenting is a whole lot more than that… but is also a whole lot less too. There is no single way to define it in my opinion and for that reason, I guess I’m okay with the label. To me it’s more about developing a close bond with your child and allowing them to feel safe and secure, through closeness. It doesn’t have to be anything extreme. Although I still haven’t read about it. This is my version of attachment parenting, whether it be right or wrong. It is right to me!

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My daughter still breastfeeds on demand. She’s a little bit too reliant still… but at 18 months, we are working on weaning. And yes, she still co-sleeps and despite my mum telling me about once a week ‘You will regret it’, I don’t think I will!

Besides, I get to wake up to the most squishy toddler cuddles every morning without even climbing out of bed!

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8 thoughts on “Does Parenting Need a Label…

  1. I totally agree with you, about the co-sleeping, feeding on demand, versions of “attachment parenting”, everything! Everyone needs to parent in the way that works best for them and their own kids. I never thought I would parent the way I do but it works for us!

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  2. I love your honesty!! I started out co-sleeping with both my children for the same reasons as you. My son is now in his own bed but my daughter (2 1/2) is back in bed with us! It doesn’t bother me at all. My mom always says, “Some day she would be mortified to be sleeping in your bed.” The critics can say what they want but they will only stay little for so long. 🙂

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    • Exactly. This time is gone in such a flash. My sister was in my parents bed til she went to school lol she turned out fine. I think mum forgets the fact that it really wasnt bad at all.

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  3. We are very similar in our parenting style. Linden coslept with us for a long time, though after a while in our queen bed, it seemed we’d all be better off with her in her own bed. But we waited until we were all really ready for that. I also still nurse we at 20 months and it’s always been on demand. I find it’s a great tool now for chilling out a wacky toddler! And I baby wore a lot, too.

    I also followed instinct more than some parenting creed (and at some point realized I was kind of an attachment parent, too). I feel that labels are useful inasmuch as they can point to a greater style or philosophy that might give you ideas or help you may not have come up with on your own when you are facing a new issue. However, I don’t think we need to label ourselves or adopt a particular style completely if it doesn’t seem to fit. I always tell my new mom friends to follow their gut!

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    • Yes, that’s such a fantastic way of looking at it. There is no one way to parent and chances are there’s good bits from many styles to adopt as our own.

      We only did the baby wearing for the first time 2 months ago holidaying in Asia, but it can’t wait to use my ergo carrier with baby 2 one day 🙂 funny how things change.

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