I was having a chat with some women the other day about why I parent the way I do and what inspired me. Truth is I was quite a mainstream parent until, can you believe it, I went to sleep school.
When I was pregnant with Tannah I had all the routine tests and scans, knew her sex and did all the expected shopping and nesting. We had a cot AND a bassinet, a pram and the only baby carrier I had was a borrowed old school type one. I was a very good girl and did as the hospital asked of me and we had a very traumatic birth. I came home and did what you are supposed to which is cope. Jump back into life. Pretend that all was fine and that the gaping wound on my baby's head from the ventouse was "standard" with instrument deliveries. I expected sleep-for her and me. I expected that she wouldn't feed so much and that I would be back working part time asap.
I was misled.
Tannah was just as angry as me about her birth and she screamed and screamed and screamed for the first...say 12 months. She didn't sleep. She liked to be rocked and rocked and rocked-and carried! All the time! Who knew. She fed A LOT and sucked all the skin off my poor nipples. By the time she was 6 weeks old I was stumbling around with a still sore perenium, excruciatingly painful nipples and I was on the verge of tears a lot. This was not what I signed up for.
But I started to feel a shift.
When she was nuzzled at my breast she calmed, when she fell asleep in bed and I crashed before I had time to put her back in the bassinet she slept better and holding her in the crappy baby carrier was not only helpful-it was lovely. It was becoming clear that following the path of least resistance was keeping us both happy. By listening to Tannah and me and trying to meet our needs and not worrying about how long she slept, how often she fed or where I was supposed to be we were finding our groove.
I finally got into a breastfeeding clinic (at 7 weeks! I wonder now how I hung in there that long!)and the support and advice I got there was so reassuring. But then I went to the health nurse for a visit and my world came crashing down.
I was told that I was feeding her too much, she was not sleeping enough and under NO circumstances should we be bed sharing. My concerns at her excessive screaming after her 6 week vax were not listened to. I felt like the worst Mum in the world-I was doing a bad job. I was not "coping". I was sent to sleep school to learn how to be a good Mama. I felt like such a fool going with my instinct and against the books.
At sleep school I was shown how to ignore my baby, how to "be strong" while she screamed for me. That my distress at her cries was normal and I'd learn to get over it. I took their advice and my new knowledge home-but every time I cried when she did it felt so wrong. After a couple of days I started to question if this was how I wanted to raise my daughter.
I wanted to find an alternative. I was at the shops and what should I see but a copy of Byron Child magazine (now kindred )I read it from cover to cover. Attachment Parenting! There was a name for the instinctive style of parenting I had been enjoying. I put Tannah in my bed and we never looked back-she is still sharing the family bed!
Through this amazing publication I found aba and a contact for a local attachment parenting playgroup. I bought a sling and an Ergo. I bought a few books. Through this magazine I even saw an ad for the Sustainable Living Festival where I saw some incredible speakers who inspired my path to have a homebirth and address the trauma I had been repressing since Tannah's birth.
It is through the amazing people I have met on my journey as a parent, through questioning the advice that the mainstream spoon feeds us, through reading some great books (anything by Robin Grille- it'll change your life!)through forums (see my places I love on the right hand side of my blog) but mostly through listening to my kids and my instincts that I parent the way I do. Some would totally disagree with my choices and some do a waaay better job than me. But I think I do pretty well :-)
It's an ongoing journey and I learn new things everyday, mostly from my kids.