When I was pregnant with McKenna, I would spend hours pouring over many different books about pregnancy and childbirth. I watched documentaries about why and how to best give birth naturally, watched more reruns of A Baby Story than I am comfortable to admit, and spent a lot of time on online communities interacting with women going through the same journey as me. It’s just my personality – I love to read, I love the process of seeking and gaining knowledge in situations that apply to me or loved ones, and I love putting that knowledge to use. When I woke up that November morning and was admitted to the hospital for high blood pressure, I knew what the doctor was going to say – preeclampsia – knew what it meant and knew what the outcome would be far before he explained it to me. When they told me they were going to induce me, I knew the process long before the nurse came in with the Cervadil and told me about the medication and what it was to do. I still find it hilarious that I spent so much time delving into those pregnancy and birthing books without even a second thought to crack open a parenting one – such a small fraction of my life as compared to the latter.
Fast forward to McKenna’s arrival. We were new parents, learning as we went. I had no time to read the newspaper, let alone a 500 page book on baby sleep patterns (seriously, why DO they make those books so long? Do they not realize the reason parents turn to these books in the first place; sleep deprivation?). I think this was truly a blessing in disguise, because by the time we had figured things out for ourselves, and started to get more comfortable in our new role as parents to our beautiful baby girl, we had already defined in a lot of ways the type of parents we were, and wanted to be.
I do read those parenting books now. I know quite a bit about infant sleep, know about the different methods of introducing solids, know what milestones should be hit approximately when, and so forth. However, I no longer take these books as fact as I used to – whereas pregnancy and childbirth are based on scientific experiences since the dawn of time, parenting is a method unique to each parent, and based a lot on the personality of your own individual child. I read these books not to take them as law, but rather to get suggestions from “experts”, (I use quotation marks because I do sometime question how expert these authors are – some strategies just DO NOT MAKE SENSE to me in my head) and decide if I want to apply them to my own child, to my own parenting strategy.
I most definitely have a few experts that I refer to, and agree with, more than others – Tracy Hogg, the writer of Baby Whisperer, is excellent. I love her gentle approach to all things baby and that her books are written in the best interest of the child, not in that of the parent (such as another expert I do not agree with, one word for you – Ferber). I also tend to agree with Dr. James McKenna’s practices – and no, the naming thing was not planned, just a happy little coincidence. Lastly, there is yet another doctor I find myself agreeing with the vast majority of the time, Dr. William Sears.
Based on Dr. Sear’s teachings, Matthew and I would be what is labelled “attachment parents” –in where we choose a child-based approach to parenting McKenna. As I mentioned prior, we adopted parenting strategy was inducted long before we realized it had a name.
Attachment parenting (AP) is working perfectly for us, it is what comes natural. It includes, but is not limited to (neither do you need to do all of these things to be an attachment parent): breastfeeding, co-sleeping/bed sharing, baby wearing, and the responding to baby’s needs promptly, without ever allowing them to cry by themselves. Luckily, Matt and I have been on the same page since day 1 when it comes to McKenna – I could not imagine the troubles that would ensue had we not been. We have not once come to an argument or disagreement when talking about what is best for our child, and I am so thankful for that.
Will our parenting strategy change in the future? Absolutely. Even though we identify with AP’s practices for the moment, I don’t see it working for the long-term for a variety of reasons, but that is for another post. We are not dedicated to this method exclusively, because once again, we started doing it all on our own, without reading the information prior. Even though I am a researcher, a book reader, and probably will be for all the years to come, I know that the best parenting strategy is to do what feels right, for McKenna, for Matthew, and for myself. And that is not something that a book can teach.
But for now, I am a breastfeeding, bed-sharing, baby wearing mama – and I say it loud and proud!