Friday, June 26, 2015

How I came to AP - a guest post from The bearded man. An ex-marine/cage fighter. Father of 3 humans, 3 cats, a dog and a bunny who suffers from extreme nursing envy with a new blog coming soon, Wendt and gone crazy, a SAHD story

     I’ve been procrastinating doing some writing. I know, I hear you saying “who in the hell procrastinates writing”? And I’m write there with you (get it?), but I’ve already passed the deadline I’ve set with my friend at Attachment Parenting 24/7 about how we found ourselves in the attachment parenting tribe, so I’m all fired up and my creative juices are flowing. Let me just take a 5hr energy drink. 
     Ahhhh much better. Okay. Today is the first day of summer break that we (myself and three littles, 7.9 Legolas, 4.7 Mystique, and 2.5 Puss) have not been able to spend a large portion of our time outdoors, so I took the littles to see a dollar summer movie. The second (of what I hope grows into a trilogy, fingers crossed) live action film in the thrilling Smurf genre reboot. 
     Whilst ensuring 12 hands and feet were kept to themselves, children were considerate of others and food wrappers were not crinkled excessively I over heard in the film Doogie Howser M.D American actor, writer, producer, director, comedian, magician, singer, and television host AND FATHER, THE Neil Patrick Harris’ss’s onscreen wife consoling him about his terrible step father (because his biological father had abandoned him as a child) by saying “At least he was there. That’s more than most fathers.” And the movie goes along its merry way as if it hadn’t just dropped a WTF in my lap. Most fathers aren’t even there. WOW. Now I’m very hulk like in regards to anger and I used to get angry at this kind of tripe, but the longer I’m a father (and I stay at home so I see it at almost every level) the more I see just how we are perceived and portrayed by media, mothers, and even the government who runs PSA’s aimed at fathers, trying to elevate the bar of expectations of what we as a country and community want out of our fathers. The tag line for this project to make American fathers the best they can be? “Just be there”. That is the expectation the populous has of fathers, they’re absent, and they just want us to please be there. 
     So now you know where my motivation to write finally came from. [Symbol] 
     Looking back, I came to attachment parenting via my wife Linda Belcher, not only is she smart, she’s smarter than me! She’d already convinced me we would cloth diaper, and the thought of formula never entered either of our minds (the Mrs. Is a scientist and much of the science suggests breast is best [I HATE that I have to hedge my words about that and I won’t about keeping boys intact, but, there it is, I get a lot of flack if I suggest {as a man} that nursing is in any way better than formula and that women are buying a lie about their ability to nurse]) and we were lucky enough to have the ability and support to pull  off nursing for  8 years now, 5 tandem and still going strong! But when I first thought to write this, I thought the reason I’d come to live in this camp was because a nurse in a birthing class for our first of three children Legolas, brought up circumcision and said quite off handedly and unremarkably about circumcision “you don’t have to do it, insurance may not even pay for it soon.”  Then as soon as she brought the topic up, said what needed to be mentioned she moved on (knowing what I know now about how people react to the idea of not circumcising and that Michigan is number 2 in the country for doing it, I’d love to shake her hand and let her know she saved at least two baby boys. It was expertly done and with scalpel like precision). That was all it took for the big brain on my epidemiologist wife to kick in to gear, that MILF can research. We’d never discussed circumcision. It wasn’t even something I thought there was any question about. I thought we’d do it going in, but I came away saying we’d look into it. Linda did some research and the first link she sent me had a thumbnail image of a baby boy during the procedure of being circumcised. I couldn’t even open it for fear of more images like that and knew immediately I did not want to risk making my son feel like that for any reason. No way, no how. 
     Legolas was born healthy and strong and kept intact. He wanted to nurse all the time and would not let us put him down without wailing in such obvious distress we immediately picked him up. We held him in shifts as long as we could, and one of us Parents was Attached to him 24/7 in a vertical direction until someone from LLL told Linda over the phone on a consultation I thought was sometime after midnight (Linda tells me I am delusional because I was only able to get 6 hours of sleep a night and it was the middle of the day[we fought a lot in the first year of having a family of three, so it was in the middle of the day]. Something in the way she said it sounded a little sarcastic now that I think about it…)  “don’t be afraid to sleep with your baby”. Linda works in Public Health so the ABC’s of the sleep mantra (Alone Back Crib) were drummed into her every day and we were averse to the idea of co-sleeping. But after days of him (and us) barely sleeping, Linda brought him into our bed, with Legolas on her outside away from me. I remember the moment Linda laid down next to me after that call, Legolas was asleep in bed with us and from then on, all were happy east of the Anduin for the off the floor clean laundry staging crib but wait the cats sleep in it too, we gained. 
  After that we saw The Business of Being Born and things progressed naturally (just like we all hope all our births will) from there. We’ve had two homebirths and are thinking of having a free birth if we are lucky enough to have a fourth. For the first three it’s been just like shooting womprats back in Beggars canyon, so if that trend continues I should have some news for you soon. 
Also we do sometimes have sugar cereal. Please don’t report us to any AP groups on FB. Especially the ones dedicated to eradicating sugar cereals.  
Its our little secret. 
And I’ve switched to disposable diapers after 7 years of cloth. Phew. That was hard to type. 
Is there a penance for that? 
I have uttered the words “You aren’t getting ANY ice cream if YOU DON”T FINISH YOUR PIZZA/HOT-DOGS/MCDONALDS 
But this is all just between us SAH’s right? 

Photo credit Johanna Madden Gross

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How I discovered attachment parenting..after doing it for 20 years.

When my first daughter was born almost 23 years ago I knew nothing about parenting or that there were different ways to parent. My only parenting models were my mother, aunt and some of my mother’s friends. One of her friends let me help after her third baby was born and I learned the most from that experience. Watching her I learned to snack while you nurse the baby and make meals ahead and freeze them for later. Thankfully my oldest was easy and latched from the beginning and we shared a bed for the first few years of her life. I only breastfed her for a year because I didn’t know any better. Looking back I would have liked to continue breastfeeding her until she was ready to wean. With her I followed my instincts and breastfeeding and bed sharing just came naturally.

Then came my second daughter 5 years later, this time I knew more but wasn’t prepared for how high needs my daughter would be. It was a struggle to breastfeed and I had zero support. No lactation consultant, no supportive friends with babies, and our pediatrician was an asshole. After struggling for 7 weeks we figured out what worked best for us. Again breastfeeding on demand, bed sharing, baby wearing with her was a life saver, and following her lead with EVERYTHING. She was and still is very strong willed as a teenager. She breastfed for almost 4 years and self weaned. If I had had the support that is available to me now it would have made a world of difference. With her I was pressured into letting her CIO at 7 months and I wish so bad that I had known better.

Fast forward 11 years to my youngest daughter and I knew before she was born that I was going to breastfeed and she would sleep with us. She had delayed vaccines and weaned when her and I were both ready at around 2 years old. My husband and I were both able to be at home with her for the first few months and this created a very close family dynamic I hadn’t experienced before. With her I was able to be a SAHM for the first time where it was just her and I during the day. It was amazing and since she was a very bad sleeper it was a blessing. Being older when I had her was an advantage and made a huge difference in how I was able to be gentle and patient while following her lead. Again I didn’t have the support I have now, didn’t even know it was out there. And still had never heard of attachment parenting. That was 7 years ago.

Then 3 years ago when Jack was 13 months old I stumbled on to a facebook page called The Progressive Parent and it was a whole new world. She talked about breastfeeding, circumcision, vaccines and attachment parenting. And my page AP247 was born and I read everything I could about AP, gentle discipline, keeping your boys intact, and vaccines. There is so much information about everything. And figuring out that other people did things the same way I did was huge for me. Growing my page organically has surrounded me with like minded parents who are kind, knowlegble and always willing to offer gentle advice when someone asks for help.

Attachment parenting can look different for every family but I believe it all begins with falling in love with your child and respecting them as the person they are. I have heard AP called extreme but it feels like the most natural way to raise your children.