Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Attachment Parenting and What I'd Do Differently


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When I was pregnant with Johnny and when he was newly born I had this very specific vision of the attachment parenting mother I wanted to be. Her long, natural hair blowing in the wind as she bends over her back yard garden gathering greens for dinner, baby contently nursing in the sling, bare arms toned from constantly holding a child. This mom is un-phased by no sleep, looks great when not showered, always gives of herself without complaining, and is always gracious to her husband.

News flash: I am not that mom. And I am so painfully aware of that fact as I sink down on the floor next to Alex, crying big, fat, ugly tears. "If we ever have more babies, I'm going to make sure they take a pacifier."

It's not uncommon for moms to feel a little touched-out from time to time. It's happened to me for sure. But I reached a new level of touched-out during Johnny's recent bout of croup, cold, and ear infection when he would only sleep in our bed, attached to me. The very summit of this touched-out-ness happened during a nap that I couldn't sneak away from no matter how many times I tried to unlatch the baby and he bit me in his sleep and it hurt like something torturous. That's when the ugly crying happened.

Long before I was pregnant with Johnny I was aware of the parenting style known as attachment parenting. For those less familiar, this parenting philosophy is centered around the idea of forming a bond of trust with your baby by following your instincts and his cues, rather than relying on parenting fads, sleep training, or feeding schedules. Attachment parenting often manifests itself in the form of on-demand breastfeeding, co-sleeping, and baby wearing. Of course there's more to it than that, but those three characteristics are the easiest to spot.   

My first successful baby-wearing attempt.  Johnny was 11 days old.
We felt very strongly about practicing attachment parenting. And for the most part we have had no regrets. Following my instincts about Johnny needs and keeping him close to me when he was a newborn felt so natural and gave me a great sense of peace as I got my bearings as a mother. I do however, have only two regrets.

1. I wish we had made some effort to get him to take a bottle and pacifier. Johnny is just about 20 months old, and he has never taken a pacifier and only took a bottle a handful of times when we were in the NICU with him. When we got home we didn't keep up bottle feeding and he hasn't taken one since. Everything I had read about attachment parenting and breastfeeding discouraged bottles and pacifiers until a good breastfeeding relationship was established. I just focused on breastfeeding, then when Johnny was older and I needed him to take a bottle it was too late. He just won't take them.

2. I wish we had tried harder to get Johnny to sleep on his own sooner. It didn't bother me that he wouldn't sleep unless he was being held or lying in bed with me when he weighed only 9 lbs. I could wear him for hours without throwing out my back, and I could co-sleep with him without getting a round-house kick the face every morning.  He was a little squishy baby, in the "4th trimester"; I was everything he needed, and I liked it that way. I never imagined I would want it any other way.

Johnny is now 20 months old. He will not go to sleep for for anyone other than Alex and myself, so we can't ever go on a date the goes past bedtime. Because he never took a bottle I couldn't be away from him longer than 3 hours until he finally started eating solids at around a year old. He doesn't take a pacifier or have a lovie, so when he is sick, or upset, I'm the pacifier. Up until we got his floor bed he was still nursing during the night, so we have never done a night away from him. It takes me about 45 minutes to put him down for a nap in our bed and the stealthy acrobatics I have to do to sneak away from him when he finally falls asleep look a little something like this.



The result is that I am sleep deprived and often feel very touched out. I feel like I'm not getting the kind of break I need to really be refreshed. I become short tempered. I start to resent people who are able to leave their kids for a little get away. I wish I had released myself from the expectation that I had to be the only one meeting Johnny's needs. I wish we had laid the ground work earlier that would have made it possible for someone other than me fulfill Johnny's needs. And I wish that I hadn't beat myself up and made myself feel guilty for the few times I did let other people fulfill Johnny's needs. 


But, you live and learn, right? I don't think anyone figures out what kind of parenting works best on the first try. Johnny is finally sleeping well at night, Praise The Lord! He does really well with babysitters. I don't see any end to his nursing yet, but most days he's only nursing before bed and naps, so the touched-out feelings are becoming less and less. I know he won't be little forever and that I need to soak up his babyhood while I still can. 

But any future babies will take bottles and pacifiers!

What about you? How has your vision of parenting changed?  Have you had to rethink any philosophies or game plans? I'd love to know!

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Sheenazing!

Last night I got an email from Bonnie of A Knotted Life informing me that my blog has been nominated for a Sheenazing Award! I have been hearing about the Sheenazing Blogger Awards, named for Venerable Fulton Sheen, a very holy guy who used the latest in technology to share his Catholic faith, (and very dear to Bonnie's family) but I never thought my little corner of the Internet would garner any nominations. So thanks to whoever nominated me! I'm tickled, thrilled, honored, that you even read.



I think the Sheenazing Awards are a great idea and am so thankful that Bonnie organizes them every year; it's a great chance to highlight so many great blogs and spread some blog love around the blogosphere. I love blogging but often times there is this nagging in the back of my mind as to how to share about my life without becoming narcissistic. After all, a blog is all about me, me, me. It's easy to start thinking you're the bees knees, when in fact, as Bonnie so greatly summed it up a while back, you're not a big deal, and that's ok. The Sheenazing Awards are a great opportunity to step outside of my little world for a bit and say, hey! there's a ton a great blogs out there, you should check them out! 

Speaking of great blogs: So many great blogs being nominated.

My friends Jacqui of Mexican Domestic Goddess and Nell from Whole Parenting Family in the Best Lifestyle Blog category. Can I vote for two, please?

Passionate Perseverance and Molly Makes Do for Most Inspiring Blogs

The Fike Life and The Rhodes Log for Funniest Blogs.

And then there's The Heart's Overflow nominated for Best Under-Appreciated Blog. If you'd go and vote for me, I'd love you forever. Thanks!

Voting goes until Friday! So go! Vote! And discover some new favorite blogs!



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Sunday, January 18, 2015

// l a t e l y //

It's been almost 2 weeks without a blog post. Where have I been? you may be wondering.  You may not be wondering, but I'm going to tell you anyway. Lucky you! 

January has been living up to its reputation as the longest, most awful, soul-crushing month of the year in our house. Johnny, who went the first year of his life without so much as a runny nose, has been sick for the last 2 weeks. It started out as croup. One night around midnight Johnny woke up sputtering phlegm and gasping for air, which really freaked out Alex. Which in turn really freaked me out because Alex usually never freaks out about anything. We sent a video of a wheezing and coughing Johnny to my father-in-law pediatrician and promptly heard back that it was croup and that there wasn't a lot we could do besides get a humidifier going or let him breathe in some cold air. Have I mentioned how nice it is to have a pediatrician in the family? Poor congested Johnny spent the next several nights in our bed, and wouldn't sleep unless he was nursing. 

After a few days Johnny was feeling a little better, but Alex and I were sick from getting no sleep. And being sick with a baby really is the worst. Two days and 20 packets of Emergen-C later we were past the worst of it. But Johnny was not getting better. He was crabby during the day and sleeping terribly at night. So a trip to doctor-grandpa was arranged and an ear infection was discovered. Antibiotics were prescribed, Johnny FINALLY started to sleep a little better, and I was very grateful. 

Johnny being sick threw off everything sleep related. He only wanted to sleep in our bed and he wanted to nurse all night long. It's been impossible to get him out of our bed and I've been reaching a new level of touched out. So we did the only thing that made sense. 

We went to IKEA. 

There is actually a really good reason we went to IKEA. We've been talking about taking down Johnny's crib and replacing it with a twin mattress on the floor for a while now. That way when he wakes up in the night Alex can go lay down with him in his room instead of bringing him into our bed. We are night weaning again and we are doing it for real this time. 

IKEA was a major success.  No arguments transpired. Only a couple misunderstandings arose.  We made it out with only one impulse buy. This mug!


And Johnny had a blast pushing the cart and watching people go up the escalator



 
We borrowed my parents' really big car, didn't actually need it because the mattress came rolled up like a Swiss Cake Roll. Like this!


We got home, made a few cuts in the plastic, and jumped back as it exploded into a twin-sized mattress. Now it's in Johnny's room and I have successfully gone two nights without nursing a baby. I am getting a good night's sleep for the first time in about 2 years and my husband is reaching a new level of sainthood by sleeping in Johnny's bed with him. 





Well, that's been about it for us. How about you? I hope your January hasn't been too terrible. Just a couple more weeks. I think there is hope now that we will make it to February without too much more damage. 


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Tuesday, January 6, 2015

// R E S O L U T I O N //

I'm not very good at the whole New Years Resolution thing. I usually don't make them at all.  Last year I felt compelled to do no clothes shopping for the entire year. And I failed miserably. I think I lasted until about March when the Spring lines were coming in and I was getting so sick of winter and my wardrobe that went with it. There may also have been a little retail therapy going on to deal with the stress of Alex being in school.  "Life is hard, so I deserve to get this skirt."

I still really like the idea of not buying new clothes for a year, but cutting myself off hard and fast seems to only make me want to shop all the more. I need a different approach  for 2015.


As 2014 was winding down, the credit card bill was adding up, and the Christmas gifts were streaming in I began thinking about the word less. What if we could get by on less? Spend less money, have less stuff, be less busy. There's definitely a financial end to this. We are about to take out A LOT of loans to cover PA school for Alex this summer. It's always good to be saving more than you're spending.

But more than that is the mental, even spiritual end. I know materialism is a weakness of mine. I know that I tend to compare, and put a lot of stock into what others think of me. I fall into the trap of thinking my value lies in my possessions and appearance, and that I need more to be happy far too easily. More stuff, more food, more clothes, more gadgets, more make-overs for the house.....

more!

more!

m o r e!



Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, 
what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. 
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, 
and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
And why are you anxious about clothing? 
Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 
yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, 
which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, 
will he not much more clothe you, 
O you of little faith?

~Matthew 6:25-30~



So that's the resolution, to have less and be satisfied. So far that has manifested it's self in the form of 4 garbage bags full of clothes that need to be dropped off that the Goodwill. And taking all the toys Johnny had before Christmas out of rotation. and putting them in a box in our closet. Maybe we'll take them out in a few months and they will seem new again. Or maybe we'll get rid of some.  If I do need to go out and get something new this spring or summer, I'm not going to beat myself up about it. But I want to make sure I'm getting it because I really need it, and not just because it might make me feel better for a couple days.

It's a new year. I want to shut of the machine in my head that is constantly trying to get more and be more and do more. I want to have less clutter, to clean out closets and drawers. I want the things we do have to be well chosen, good quality, things that we need. I also want to clean out some mentalities, the materialism, comparing, and dissatisfaction that can so easily take over and become toxic. I want more love for family and friends, more generosity and compassion in my heart, more Jesus in my life.


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