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.

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