Tuesday, November 9, 2010

I'm a mama...naturally


Welcome to the November Carnival of Natural Parenting: What is natural parenting?
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our Carnival coincides with the launch of Natural Parents Network, a community of parents and parents-to-be who practice or are interested in attachment parenting and natural family living. Join us at Natural Parents Network to be informed, empowered, and inspired!
Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.
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Prior to getting pregnant, I had vague ideas of the type of parent I wanted to be in the distant future.  During my pregnancy with Ella I developed some very strong opinions (shocking, I know).  For example, I swore my child would never sleep in bed with us.  It's not that I was planning on becoming a mainstream parent, it's just that I didn't know any different.  It's called mainstream for a reason - it is the style of parenting that is overwhelmingly shown through media in so many different insidious ways.

Then I had Ella, and as I am sure other parents can attest, all my intentions, opinions and preconceived notions of parenting flew out the window.


We had a lovely crib set up in her lovely bedroom.  We had a sweet bassinet next to our bed.  But in the hospital I slept with Ella on my chest, and our first night home I put her into the bassinet for perhaps 2 minutes before scooping our little bean into bed with us.  She stayed in bed with us for eight wonderful months, until it became clear that no one was getting good sleep and Ella (very slowly) transitioned to her own crib (though we still practice responsive nighttime parenting).

Our sleeping arrangement was just the tip of the iceberg.  Once Ella was in the world with us, the only thing that mattered to me was doing what was best for my child and family.  We decided to do what came naturally, even if it wasn't "mainstream."  We had friends with a little one a bit over a year older than Ella who, though they probably don't know it, played a huge role by bolstering our confidence in our parental instincts.  They were patient and kind before Ella was born, giving us little pieces of advice on attachment parenting (though we didn't know it had a name at the time) that we tucked away to draw upon later, bit by bit, as needed. 

As a woman who is used to thinking critically, it was natural for me to bring these same skills to my role as a mother.  We opted to have a medicine-free childbirth and labor at home with family, only going to the hospital for the grand finale, as it were!  We were happy to learn that our bedsharing sleeping arrangement was not only safe, but has been seen as the ideal arrangement throughout many cultures in breastfeeding bedsharing families.  We started reading about vaccines, deciding to be selective about what our girl gets and when, to lessen the impact of the drugs on her immature system.  The more we read, the more we learned that things we were doing naturally and instinctively had distinct benefits for our kiddo...bonus!


But not everything we do is because of some great moral reason...many things we do because they are just plain easy:

- Babywearing?  Easy.  We have a great carrier, an ergo, which is comfortable for both Ella and me - whenever she needs a bit more mama time I can easily strap her on and continue doing what needs to be done, and she gets a bird's eye view and narration of the world around her. 
- Breastfeeding?  Easy (once you get the hang of it).  No bottles to pack or clean, food wherever and whenever she needs, it doesn't get much better than that!
- Baby-led weaning?  Easy too.  She eats what we eat, so no preparing separate foods.  We give her options, she chooses what and how much she eats (which generally is a bit of everything).  She gets a good balance, since as a family we strive to eat a healthy, mostly organic mix.
- Elimination communication?  Surprisingly easy(ish).  It's a big, fancy name for a process that is followed, by necessity, most places in the world.  Following your child's cues as to when they need to go to the bathroom isn't new, diapers are (I know, it can be tough at first to wrap your head around that one.)  For us, EC has meant far fewer dirty diapers to change (our record was a two-month period where I changed no poopy diapers, it was glorious!)
- Cloth diapering?  Easy!!  This did take a bit of a leap of faith, but after some encouragement and sage advice from my good friend Danielle, we took the plunge.  Because of the cloth diapers her room smells better (no more dirty diaper smell, even though her dirty diapers are stored in a dry bucket!), no more trips to buy more diapers, and no more diaper rash...oh, and it's easier on the landfills as well!


Looking down the road, I don't know what's to come, I've given up making any real hard-and-fast opinions about life, it's far too fluid for any set plan.  We have already started thinking about the type of education we want our children to have.  I have plans of volunteering as a family, something that I dearly miss since moving to Chicago.  And with a social worker and attorney for parents, I know there will be no shortage of social and political conversation (and perhaps a rally or two!)  We know the morals and values we wish to instill in our children, and though it is a winding path, I know that we will continue to do what is best for our family, which as it turns out, is parenting naturally.



***
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaStop by Natural Parents Network today to see excerpts from everyone's posts, and please visit a few to read more! Visit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants. Three of the participants below will instead be featured on Natural Parents Network throughout the month, so check back at NPN!
This list will be updated by afternoon November 9 with all the carnival links. We've arranged it this month according to the categories of our NPN resource pages on "What Is Natural Parenting?"

Attachment/Responsive Parenting

Attachment/responsive parenting is generally considered to include the following (descriptions/lists are not exhaustive; please follow each link to learn more):
  1. PREPARE FOR PREGNANCY, BIRTH, AND PARENTING:
  2. FEED WITH LOVE AND RESPECT:
  3. RESPOND WITH SENSITIVITY:
    • "Attachment Parenting Chose Us" — For a child who is born "sensitive," attachment parenting is more a way of life than a parenting "choice." Dionna at Code Name: Mama shares her experiences. (@CodeNameMama)
    • "Parenting in the Present" — Acacia at Be Present Mama parents naturally by being fully present.
    • "Parenting With Heart" — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment parents naturally because healthy attachments early in life help our little ones grow into healthy, functioning adults.
  4. USE NURTURING TOUCH:
  5. ENSURE SAFE SLEEP:
    • "Sometimes I Wish We Coslept" — Sheila at A Gift Universe has started to add cosleeping into her sleep routines and has found frequently unspoken benefits. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 30. (@agiftuniverse)
  6. PROVIDE CONSISTENT AND LOVING CARE:
  7. PRACTICE GENTLE/POSITIVE DISCIPLINE:
    • "Unconditional Parenting" — The philosophy of Alfie Kohn resonates with Erin at Multiple Musings, who does not want to parent (or teach) using rewards and punishment. (@ErinLittle)
  8. STRIVE FOR BALANCE IN PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE:

Ecological Responsibility and Love of Nature

Holistic Health Practices

  • "Supporting Natural Immunity" — If you have decided against the traditional vaccination schedule, Starr at Earth Mama has some helpful tips for strengthening your children's immune systems naturally.

Natural Learning

  • "Acceptance as a Key to Natural Parenting" — Because Mrs. Green at Little Green Blog values accepting and responding to her daughter's needs, she was able to unravel the mystery of her daughter's learning "challenges." (@myzerowaste)
  • "Let Them Look" — Betsy at Honest 2 Betsy makes time to look at, to touch, and to drool on the pinecones.
  • "Why I Love Unschooling" — Unschooling isn't just about learning for Darcel at The Mahogany Way — it is a way of life. (@MahoganyWayMama)
  • "Is He Already Behind?"Ever worry that your baby or toddler is behind the curve? Danielle at born.in.japan will reassure you about the many ways your little one is learning — naturally — every day. Watch for her post, which will be featured on Natural Parents Network on Tuesday, November 16. (@borninjp)
  • "How to Help Your Child through Natural Learning" — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now offers tips on how to understand and nurture your child's natural learning style. (@DebChitwood)

Healthy Living

Parenting Philosophies

Political and Social Activism

10 comments:

Dionna @ Code Name: Mama said...

I'm nodding along with you - so many of the things we practice are (side benefit!) easier. It's a shame that they are perceived as more time-consuming or difficult, when that's usually not the case. Thank you for sharing your story!

navelgazingbajan said...

It's amazing how our perspectives can shift after we have children. I wasn't too sure about bedsharing at first but after 15 months of doing it, I can't imagine doing it differently.

Melodie said...

Your pictures are adorable. I also can attest to those changing perspectives once the baby arrives. We had a crib for our first born too and I never used it except for when I opened up my family child care. If I hadn't done daycare it would have never been used.

Acacia @ Be Present Mama said...

Ha! Its funny to hear how many people start with cribs and never use them! we did that, too! How blessed your little bean is to have parents that believe there job is so important and seek out what's not just easy but the best for their little one. Great job, mama!

Sybil said...

I do love how easy it can be to practice attachment parenting. That was definitely the way it felt to me, too. You'll find the right path as your little girl grows. Sometimes it feels like the decisions are a little more overwhelming, but clearly your heart is in the right place!

I'm so glad I was able to discover your blog through the carnival. Your daughter is adorable! Love all of the pictures :)

Lauren @ Hobo Mama said...

I'm always trying to encourage people to try out things like babywearing and cloth diapering, and it's too bad there's this notion that they're difficult. I'm with you — they make life easier!

I love your pictures! :)

Kat said...

Awww what a cutie! I totally agree with everything you said. Your process of arriving to this style of parenting is so similar to mine, it mostly happened on it`s own and it wasn`t until later that we found out it had a name. Thanks for sharing!

Amy said...

Your bean is adorable! Yes, easy, I'm with you. Life just flows smoothly while embracing that which nature intended. It can take a bit to wrap one's head around certain practices but jumping in to try them can make for a really nice relationship :)

MrsH said...

Love your post! So much of what you wrote resonates with me, and my friends are always shocked when I describe that to me, cloth diapers are actually less yucky than disposable - the smell factor alone is worth a LOT!

I personally don't think the stuff is easy though. EasIER, but to me it's not easy. Except for breastfeeding now, at 18 months, that's become easy-peasy! Thanks for your words, I'll share this post with a pregnant friend of mine who is trying to feel her way through the newborn days.

gb said...

Hearts' desires are neither preconceived or notions. They are smiles, giggles, soft breaths, and hand grasps. They have names, and ideas, and wills of their own.

And would we ever have it any other way.

I was lucky - I got to have a lot of what my heart desired...those are the blessings I count at the end of each day.

As the Bean...what a bonus, what a joy, what a lot of fun you'll have in the years to come.

xo


(It's funny to see another "Mrs.H.")

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