12 May, 2012

how AP found ME

in my twenties i can recall saying at least once that i would have a cesarean if i could, because "it was just easier". but that was probably before i even thought i would ever have a baby. through most of my early twenties i swore i wouldn't have kids. not until i was at least forty, anyway. even during my first marriage, i always said we would start trying "in two years"...i mean i said that every year. the two year time span never got any shorter. i was present at the birth of my second nephew. it was a planned cesarean. my then sister-in-law's third planned cesarean. and even at that, i didn't really think that planning a cesarean might not be a great idea. she couldn't walk afterwards. she looked awful. but i guess i figured that was just part of birth. before my ex-SIL had my first nephew, i remember asking her if she would breastfeed. she was appalled and said, "no way! why would you?" and even then, as a woman (a very immature late twenty-something woman) who would have chosen a cesarean over natural birth, i said "yes. of course." she responded with disdain, "ewwww...you would let some kid suck on your tit?" i said, well not any kid, but my kid, yes. so even then, for some reason, i knew that i would nurse my babies. i have no idea where it came from. no one in my family nursed. my friends fed formula. that was normal for me. i had never seen anyone breastfeed. so when i was pregnant with cooper, i read 'what to expect when you're expecting'. i got my babycenter emails and was fascinated with my weekly updates. i looked forward to my doctor's appointments so that i could hear the heartbeat and hope for a random ultrasound. i looked forward to pushing my baby in a stroller while walking the dogs. i imagined the baby sleeping peacefully in his nursery (yes, i always imagined having boys). i never thought about breastfeeding. i didn't think about anything related to parenting at all. i thought about stuff. and how neat it would be to finally be a mother. and how great your dad would be as a dad. i think i thought i would have a natural birth, but when i lost cooper at 22 weeks, i still hadn't researched it. so i probably would have been one of those moms who showed up in labor and freaking out in pain completely unprepared and begging for the epidural. that's just how it is, i guess. in a formula feeding, epidural giving, stroller pushing kind of world. we don't think about it. and then it just becomes what it is. i imagine that if i had had cooper at term, i would've ended up with an epidural. i would have tried to breastfeed, but it's very likely i would have failed. i would have believed the myth that i wasn't making enough milk and then i would have gone on to spread that myth to others. i would have had another baby and likely i would have planned the epidural and then planned to feed formula. i may never have heard of an ergo baby carrier and i would probably be sitting on facebook tonight talking about how nasty it is that some women breastfeed their three year olds. but here i am. writing. to you. about your brother who isn't here. i just got done nursing you to sleep in our family bed. on my to-do list is to write a blog entry for the birthworks blog about the value of a doula. i am waiting to hear back from a client about what day we will meet next week for her our first prenatal appointment. i just send an email to my reviewer checking to see if she has been able to go voer my essay questions because i can't wait to start teaching my childbirth preparation series. today i have both looked at you in awe and cried about losing your brother. so how did i get here? how did i become this mother? cooper was born. and when i lost him, i went crazy with grief. literally. and i read everything i could get my hands on to find the answers about what happened to him. that led me to birthworks. i walked into my first class asking about water birth...i was told that the only place around here was in elmer, nj. i figured that was too far away. she said you could always birth at home. WHAT? are you crazy? i told her i was way too scared to ever do that...what if something happened? by the end of the eight week series, there was no way i would ever give birth in a hospital. i didn't want an epidural. i knew all of the interventions to avoid unless they were absolutely necessary so as to avoid an unnecessary cesarean. i was prepared with information about breastfeeding. i had seen this woman's bedroom...she had two queen sized beds in one room -- her daughters slept on one and she and her husband slept on the other (though she did admit that most of the time her husband slept on the couch. that was so weird to me.) i made my registry with the help of a friend i met in that birthworks class. i registered for a stroller that i figured i'd use as you got older, but i also registered for a sling and a wrap, so that i could wear you close to me. i couldn't wait to carry you around. i learned about the benefits of babywearing as i searched online for which carriers to register for. it was so exciting. there were so many to choose from. i still hadn't even heard of dr. sears at this point. i'll confess. i'm lazy. super lazy. most of my parenting decisions have come from that. of course i would breastfeed, who the hell wants to wake up in the middle of the night and make a bottle? who can remember to pack all of that gear in the diaper bag when you want to leave the house? and who wants to carry that gigantic diaper bag around, anyway? not me, not me, not me. we planned a homebirth, which as you know, ended up as a cesarean birth. but it was a family centered cesarean, thanks to the knowledge i had gained from reading and reading and preparing and through choosing an amazing midwife who had even more information to share. and i worked closely with my OB and my midwife to make the best of the situation. we attempted to nurse right there on the operating table while dr. salvatore stitched me back up, but i was just too tired, cold and out of it. but you never left me. and once i was awake and in the recovery room, you were on my chest naked and within a very short time, you were nursing. you basically stayed there for three or four months. i fed you when you were hungry, i nursed you when you needed comfort. which was all the time. i remember going for a walk with meredith (our midwife) sometime when you were about five or six months old. i had you wrapped up in my Moby wrap and mer and i were talking about how long you and i struggled with getting nursing on track because of our months of back and forth thrush transmission. she said, "these are the kids you hope will nurse for a really long time." and in my head i had no idea what she meant. oh! she must mean nursing past one? weird. (i used to think nursing past infancy was weird. but you just kept getting bigger.) you cried a lot. i know, you know this. i mention it all the time. but i mean seriously, kid. you cried all the time. and i guess i will never know for sure why you cried all the time, but i can only imagine that it had something to do with your birth experience, your highly spirited personality, your desire to communicate, or something else or everything else. i have no idea. but what i do know is that i spent hours and hours nursing you and bouncing you and rocking you and walking you and shhhh-ing you and singing to you and begging you to please stop crying. but what i didn't do was ignore your cries. i knew you needed something. and even if that something was something i could never provide or something as simple as letting you suckle at my breast, i didn't ignore you. no matter how tired i was or how frustrated i was, i always responded to you and almost all of the time it was with sensitivity. i must admit there were a few times when i just put you down and went into my room and screamed. or when i bounced on that yoga ball a little bit faster and harder than usual while saying a little bit louder than usual, "JUST STOP CRYING!" but i responded because i knew you needed me to. and you always needed me to. i nursed you every two hours or more for over two years of our lives. you slept on my chest your first night in the hospital and every night afterwards. when you got bigger, you would roll off and sleep next to me. i loved snuggling with you and having you so close. but again. i'm lazy. of course i kept you in bed with me. who the hell wants to get out of bed at night and go to a bassinet or to another room to sit in a rocker and nurse? not me. so there you have it. we share sleep. you and me and your dad, all snuggle in bed every night. well, some nights your dad has slept on the couch. weird, right? i planned to go back to work when you were six months old. those six months turned to twelve. and the twelve turned to eighteen. and then two years. and then i resigned. i didn't want to leave you. and once i figured out that i didn't have to leave you, i stayed home. i wanted to watch you grow up. i wanted to watch you learn. i didn't want to miss it. and i didn't love work enough to miss it. i didn't love money enough to miss it. and even though you were going to be home with grandmom and grandpop only a half a mile away from my work, i couldn't stomach the thought of missing so much. and while all of this was going on...while i was learning from you about how to be your mom, i was reading everything i could get my hands on about parenting and breastfeeding. after all, i was spending hours and hours on the couch nursing you. i might as well learn something. i read a lot. the natural parenting book. mothering magazine. the continuum concept. and yes, the baby book. good old dr. sears. i bought that one before you were born. i don't know why. but i didn't open it until you were already a week old or so. after you were already sleeping in my bed on top of me. after i had already been gifted multiple babywearing devices. after i had already spent countless hours nursing and rocking and shhhhh-ing you. my point is that i had already found attachment parenting on my own. i had found it inside of me. it's what my instincts told me to do. and reading the baby book was refreshing. it was nice to know that there was a name for what i had been doing. but what it really meant was that i couldn't be the only mom in the new jersey who wasn't feeding formula, putting their baby down in the crib on a schedule and pushing a snap-n-go. so thank you dr. sears. thank you for helping me stick with it. thank you for helping me to believe that i wasn't a weirdo crazy person. or at least if i was, i wasn't alone. so i went to some la leche meetings. and i met people. people who were like me. moms who breastfed their babies, even after six months. moms who had homebirths. moms who slept in bed with their kids and who never used their strollers. it was such a relief to have met these moms, because until then, i felt like such a weirdo. i felt like even though there was this giant book telling me that i was normal, i really felt like i was the only one in the world who was parenting this way. i was being told that i nursed too much, that i should let my baby cry so he would learn to sleep. i was seeing facebook statuses from friends all the time about how they had been listening to their babies cry for an hour and seeing the comments about how it was good for that baby to be ignored because he had to learn. i was getting bad information about breastfeeding from pediatricians. i was watching my friends in their neat houses bake cookies with make-up on and blown out hair and thinking what is wrong with me? i hadn't showered in a week. i was tired from not sleeping. i had hairy legs. my baby was attached to my boob. i hadn't had any time alone, not even to sit on the toilet, in months. but here i was. an attachment mom. accidentally. or out of laziness. or naturally. i guess there was something inside of me that remembered about those monkeys. you know the ones. the ones you learned about in your sociology and psychology classes that died or couldn't interact with other monkeys as they got older because they had been isolated as babies. and the other monkeys who chose to snuggle with their surrogate wire mothers who were covered in cloth when they were frightened. the monkeys that developed normally were the ones who had an attachment with a mother -- even a surrogate wire mother covered in cloth. it had nothing to do with food. it had to do with them feeling a sense of security in those early months of life. i guess maybe deep down that had something do do with it. but more than that, i guess i just listened to me. and to you. and i guess i was also listening to your brother. he wasn't here. but i listened. i always do. he is still teaching me things. every day. most of all, he taught me that i really wanted to be a mother. more than i ever knew or could have imagined. i wanted it deep down into the depths of my soul. and that i should never take motherhood for granted. so i became an attachment mom. not because dr. sears gave me rules to follow. or because i thought i was better than anyone else. just because it felt right and natural for me. and it was what worked. it still works. i struggled a bit for a while with finding balance, but i'm getting there. the first two years or so were rough at time. the very early months were hell. but i wouldn't do anything different. i just watched you the other day walk a long walkway all by yourself to go down a big wooden slide all by yourself. you had to ask a stranger to fix your burlap bag for you to sit on. you waved "bye by mommy" as you walked away. you learned to go pee on the potty all by yourself. you go to grandmom's and tell me to go and to have fun when i leave. you have gone on water slides and ordered your own ice cream. you walk away from me at the park or in the mall and don't look back because you know i'm behind you. you have grown so much in these thirty one months. you are confident. and smart. and funny. and so many other wonderful things. and i'm still nursing you. and i see no signs of you stopping. do i love it? no. lots of the time i don't. so why do i do it? because you need it. you are still a baby. thirty one months is still a really short time to have been human. and i'll do it until you don't need it anymore. do i hope that's sooner rather than later? yes, i do, but for now, i'm willing to wait it out. again, i'm not doing it because some book says i should, or because the world health organization thinks i should. i am doing it because that's what i do. i respond to you. to what you need. you are my baby. i love you. i am your mother. this just all came naturally to me. i found AP on my own. or it found me. i didn't plan any of it. or follow some list of rules. one thing just led to the next and before i knew it was was "practicing" attachment parenting. and i have no guru. except for you. and cooper.

1 comment:

  1. I can't even begin to tell u how much this specific blog means to me I feel as though u just took my thoughts and were able to write them down for me minus a few points - cooper- an some smaller details but for the most part it's hits home base thank you