I didn’t plan to attachment parent, but it was what worked best for my son and for our family. Contributing writer Caroline will share her experience about how learning to be a “good” parent isn’t as easy as it seems.
By Caroline Vencil, Contributing Writer
When I had my oldest son, I just thought I’d carry him around all the time. After all, I saw other moms doing that all the time. That’s just what moms do, I thought.
Then I had my son. My 9 pound 9 ounce chunk. My big baby who was c-sectioned instead of the natural birth I’d planned and dreamed of. I was recovering from major surgery and was struggling to take care of myself, let alone a newborn for the first time.
I didn’t plan on learning how to use a Moby wrap for the first time, and then never putting my son down again. And I never planned on having him in our bed until he started climbing out of our bed and into his own bed. I never planned on never leaving him until he was almost two.
Truthfully, I never planned on attachment parenting. I’d never even heard of it! But that’s exactly what happened. And it worked for us.
I Didn’t Plan to Attachment Parent
From the moment that we announce that we’re pregnant, we’re surrounded and sometimes bombarded with the “right” way or the “best” way to birth a baby and be a parent. Parenthood and birth are not something that is a cookie cutter. Something that works for you might not work for me. It took me a long time to realize that, but it was then that I realized that it was ok to be different.
All you have to do really is what works for you and what works for your baby. I say that now, looking back at everything almost six years ago. At the time, it was not easy. I was already dealing with a lot of ridicule for having a c-section instead of my intended natural birth. And now I was facing ridicule for holding my baby. For having him with me. For never wanting to be away from him.
It was like I was a bad mom no matter what I chose to do. It felt at the time like the “best” way to be a mom, according to everyone else, was to leave my child with someone else or to let him be on his own. Once I had my son, it felt so wrong to be away from him.
I wanted so badly to have a night to myself and to be able to hang out with people who didn’t have children yet. But the second that I walked away from my son, I felt naked. I felt like there was a part of me missing.
Change of Plans
I had every intention of being able to pick my life back up once my son was born. To be able to continue to socialize with people without children. To be able to go out with friends and enjoy staying out late.
Needless to say, these are the same people who were telling me that I was “spoiling my son.” I’m sorry… you think holding my baby was me spoiling him? That felt so wrong to me. Since when is giving physical affection spoiling someone?
I didn’t plan on bed sharing either. When I was pregnant, I yearned for the days when I would be able to stretch out in my own bed and have my own space to end my day.
I had no intention of having a baby on my chest throughout the night. I had no intention of keeping him on my chest every single night until he was more than 18 months old. I’m so thankful that he was the one who initiated him sleeping on his own. I don’t think I would ever have been able to put him in his own room if he wasn’t ready for it.
I kept our sleeping arrangements secret for fear of the ridicule that I would get from family and friends about the way that we chose to parent. Once again heard that I was spoiling my son. I heard that I was getting him too used to being around me. That I was going to wind up with him sleeping in our bed until he was a teenager.
It took us a long time to feel comfortable making your own decisions. It wasn’t until I met a close friend who had a son and was doing parenting the same way that we were. I was so pleased to hear somebody validate that I was doing the right thing.
It was right then that I realized that everyone parents differently. There isn’t one right or wrong way to be a parent. There’s no cookie cutter way to do the right thing for our children. And it’s okay!
Before my son was born, I did have plans…
to breastfeed for at least a year
But I didn’t plan…
to have a baby in my bed for 18 months
on nursing for 18 months
to have my baby wrapped on me for the first 12 months of his life
on keeping my son with me almost 24/7 for his first 18+months
When I was pregnant I had no idea that attachment parenting was a thing. I never planned to use one “method” over the other, it just so happens that attachment parenting is where we ended up. However, when I became a mom, it felt like it was the most “right” and natural thing for me to do for my son.
Attachment parenting covers a broad spectrum of definitions. And what works for one family might not work for another. Even within the same family, what works for one child might not work for another. And that’s okay! There are no cookie cutters in life.
If I had to do it all over again, of course I would change some things! Who can say that they wouldn’t go back and change some things about their oldest child first year?!
Personally, I would have gone back and started planning on attachment parenting before I had my son. I would have plans on having him in our room and in our bed instead of having to go out and buy an expensive and bulky crib that didn’t fit well in our apartment at the time. I’d also go back and tell myself not to listen to the negativity. For whatever reason, attachment parenting draws a lot of negative comments and a lot of hate. I’ll never fully understand it, but I know that it works well for us.
“Good parenting” is listening to your baby’s needs. It is compromising. It is nurturing and loving your baby. And good parenting is listening to your own instincts.
What does being an attachment parent look like to you?