Tuesday, October 7, 2008

(WFMW) Attachment Parenting Month

October is the official Attachment Parenting month and I wanted to dedicate some blog space to the importance of AP and babywearing in our lives. I thought I'd combine it with Works for me Wednesday this week, since it is indeed something that has worked for us.

I was only 22 when my daughter was born. I'd been married less than two years, had never lived alone and could barely navigate the mechanics of check-writing. Seriously. I was naive. An event in that first day after her birth affected me on a emotional level so deep it was years before I realized its significance.

She was fussy at first, probably a reaction to the difficult birth. She nursed frantically for hours (literally) and screamed with rage whenever I attempted to distract her, or put her down. My well-meaning relatives, in an effort to give me some rest persuaded me to give her to them to take outside for a walk.

"Babies love the outdoors. She'll calm down in no time. You close your eyes for a while and we'll wake you if she doesn't stop crying."

Against my own feeble instincts I gave over my hours-old dollbaby and drifted into sleep. Several hours later I awoke to find that my precious daughter had screamed nearly the entire time and had only just fallen into an exhausted stupor.

Oh how I cried and cried when I found this out. I held her and apologized over and over for leaving her,for putting my own needs above hers. I promised I would never leave her again. I determined in my mind that she would never have to cry again. At the slightest peep from her I would give her whatever she needed/wanted.

Now all of you reading who have children and a proper perspective on their needs can imagine that it wasn't long before I realized the futility of such a resolution. Babies cry and that's a fact of life. And I did learn to let her cry at times. And I learned that some crying is from thwarted will, not true need. And I learned that leaving her isn't always a bad thing. And I learned that putting my needs ahead of her wants sometimes was for her own good in the end. (Ie: getting myself some sleep, a shower, food, etc.)

But one result of that early experience was my embracing of a concept that I hadn't yet heard of, but would recognize years later when it was popularized and given a name. And I unconsciously began the practice of "babywearing", also never having heard of it. I had a ring sling and a backpack carrier that I re-made from one my parents used when I was a baby. (This was long before the days of Mei Tais at the Target checkout line. I had to make do with what I had) She went with me everywhere. She slept in the bed with us at night. She was on my back while I made dinner. She sat in a basket at my feet while I taught. I nursed her in the sling during the lessons-- thanks to the tolerance of some really awesome moms who were breastfeeding advocates before it was a celebrity endorsed activity. She helped me clean and sew and garden. She was my righthand man and constant companion

Except when Daddy was babywearing ;)

The results were amazing! Her verbal skills far outpaced the average. She was obedient and helpful. She was secure around strangers and never hesitated to give a smile to anyone. She learned amazingly quickly and was eager to participate in anything I was doing. Today she continues to be exceptionally bright (I'm not just saying this-- she really is! no prejudice at all...) and quite well-acquainted with the workings of a household. She has her own sling and practices the art of babywearing with her own "babies".

When my son was born, I was prepared. I'd read about Attachment Parenting. I'd researched babywearing options. I'd made a wrap. I was ready! It was sweet, sweet. This dear little bundle nestled against my chest, almost as though still in utero, but visible and kissable. We were here again, and it was a familiar place. Sweet, I say, sweet.

I've added a list of A/P and babywearing links on the sidebar. As a disclaimer, let me say that there are plenty of ideas and practices associated with the Attachment Parenting movement that we do NOT agree with. But in general, the idea of our children participating in every part of our lives in a physical and intimate way is very important to our family. Check out Rocks In My Dryer for other ideas that work for other families!


Denise said...

I have a feeling I'll have a lot more thoughts on this when I actually experience having a child of my own. AP isn't something I agree with on a lot of things, but there is good from it, too, that I do want to incorporate. Babywearing is definitely something I will do. I have one whole-cloth wrap a friend is making for me and a ring-sling I am ordering as well. If you have any input on good/bad brands (although it sounds like you made yours) feel free to share!

Herb of Grace said...

Denise, yep, AP has some issues for us as well. Which I'm sure you would guess if you've read our posts on Michael and Debi Pearl. I suppose I think of their advice as a sort of modified version of AP, and that's what we try to emulate. It's an interesting mix... I highly recommend their books.

As far as wraps/slings. The most useful for me were the whole cloth wrap and the Mei tai. We started with the wrap when he was tiny and then moved to the mt when he wanted a little more freedom of movement. I use a pouch side carrier now, since it's so easy-in-easy-out. There's a link on my sidebar to the site where I found the patterns I used to make all my wraps. They're all super easy patterns.

Carolyn Duede said...

Works For Me Wednesday! That's a wonderful idea! Also, I'm glad that you were able to find such a simple and enjoyable way to connect with your baby.

Jenny said...

hey lisi,
i read your blog now and then, and I love what you had to say about baby wearing! I wear my 5 mo. old all the time in my wrap (one piece of cloth) and I love it! So does she. It's so versatile and comfortable. I'm a huge advocate.....I have 2 that I "made" and one from Moby D....and we love the Pearl books too. I have 6 of them and love them all. Have you read Created to be his Helpmeet? I think it's the best book I've ever read!

also have you seen the outfits made by Mini Boden? I have to deal with the same issues with Savannah at 5 now, and not that I could EVER afford Mini Boden's clothes, but I got a catalog in the mail out of the blue, and I LOVE their clothes! You might check them out.
Jenny Brown

Herb of Grace said...

Jenny, I just checked out Mini Boden! Cute, cute, cute!! Too bad they're so expensive...

Shen-Li said...

I love having my son close to me as well. When he was younger, my hubby and in laws would always try to encouage putting him into the pram (especially because we bought such an expensive one, it seemed such a waste), but my son was always so much happier in a carrier or someone's arms. I really enjoyed wearing him, too, so I didn't mind being the one to carry him most of the time.

I think it's great that your hubby participated in the baby wearing. My hubby didn't really because he didn't feel comfortable. He has a really big belly and we couldn't find an option that worked for him (although I have three different carriers/slings - the Bjorn, ring sling and a wrap).

Herb of Grace said...

Yeah, I was really glad that J enjoyed the wrap. He's a lot taller tahn I am, but the one-piece wrap is so versatile that we could both wear it. Has your hubby tried that kind yet? It's a little tougher once their toddlers, since it's not as in-and-out as a sling. Your little one is a cutey-pie! Love the pics of him holding hands with his god-sister :)