Attachment Parenting a la Mullins

23 May

Ever since the Time article came out and attachment parenting hit the chopping block, I’ve looked a lot closer at our evolving parenting style.  I’m not going to give you a run down of the article or critisize the implications of the cover and the story; you can find a billion of those kinds of reactions in numerous blogs and articles.   Instead, I’m going to talk a little bit about our take on attachment parenting and the parts of it that we are implementing and those that we aren’t.

Let it be known that before Chloe was born I didn’t have a plan for what kind of parent I was going to be.  I wanted to do what worked best for her and not go into it with preconceived expectations and ideas that would only result in disappointment when those things didn’t work out for us.  I was only 100% sure of a few things:  1) I was going to have a baby. 2) I would love her unconditionally. 3) I wouldn’t get to sleep for a long, long time.  I say all of this to provide a sort of disclaimer.  I don’t believe there is a “right” way to parent.  Each family is different and you have to do what works for yours.  I’m not with Alanis Morissette and the whole “attachment parenting will keep them out of therapy later” thing.  This is what is working for us right now.

Dr. Sears, who seems to be the strongest advocate of AP, outlines it with the 7 Baby B’s.  This makes it easier to talk about because I’ll have something to refer to as far as the “expectations” of attachment parenting.

1. Birth Bonding. I missed out on the “initial” period of bonding because I had a c-section.  It was unplanned and it took them a while to get Chloe to me.  I was fairly upset about it, but I knew that it was for medical reasons.  Once everything was checked out and both she and I were given the green light, they placed her on my chest.  And we bonded.  Honestly, I didn’t see any issues because we weren’t skin to skin right after birth.  I think it could be very important when it comes to breastfeeding, but I lucked out and got a baby that didn’t have any trouble.  So there’s one of the “B’s” that we did not partake in.

2.  Breastfeeding.  This one was very important to me.  Not only is it a great bonding experience for mothers and their babies, breastmilk contains a lot of nutrients that formula does not.  (Here’s where my disclaimer comes in:  I realize that formula fed babies turn out just fine.  I did.  It was important to me to try my best to breastfeed, but if I was not able to, I wasn’t going to be too upset.)  Breastfeeding has been the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  I watch her grow and I watch those adorable baby rolls develop and I know that I made that.  I am able to sustain another life with just my body.  I don’t know how long we’ll keep it up–at least a year–and I’m not ruling out extended breastfeeding.  America has placed some kind of stigma on breastfeeding (over-sexualized); in other countries, weaning a baby at the age of one isn’t necessarily the norm.  The benefits a child gets from breastmilk continue for as long as they receive it.  Anyway, that’s another post for another day.

3.  Babywearing.  I’ve done my fair share of babywearing in the past 4.5 months.  When she was tiny, it would calm her down instantly.  Put her in the Moby wrap and she’d go to sleep.  There were nights when she wouldn’t go to bed and we’d put her in the Ergo and do laps around the house.  Now, she doesn’t always go to sleep, but it does always calm her down.  I feel like I learned her cues quicker because she was always so close to me.  This didn’t make her over-clingy; she’s becoming more independent everyday.  However, we do have a stroller and I use it often to take her on walks.  I think we’re pretty well in the middle on this one.

4.  Bedding close to baby (or co-sleeping).  Chloe slept in a bassinet beside me for the first 4 or 5 weeks of her life.  I wasn’t comfortable bed sharing with something so small and fragile.  It worked for us then.  Ultimately though, we decided to move her to her crib at a fairly young age.  Chloe was a loud sleeper (not so much anymore) and I was so tuned into her noises that I couldn’t get any sleep.  When we put her in her crib, she slept longer.  I guess the girl just needed her own space.  I think the idea of co-sleeping and bed sharing would be very convenient, especially during those early days when you’re getting up every 2 hours (or more) to feed.  It just wasn’t in the cards for us.  Sometimes it doesn’t feel right to have her down the hall, but in the end, I think it’s been the best thing for our family.

5.  Belief in the language of your baby’s cry.  This is one that I’m a stickler to.  People told me I should just let her cry, etc,. etc,.  But to me, her cry was telling me she needed something.  Sometimes it was to be fed, to change a diaper but sometimes it was simply to be close to me.  I felt like ignoring that need, whatever it was, was cruel and unnecessary.  I want her to trust us and there was no reason for us not to respond to each and every cry.  This helped me learn what her different cries mean and now I’m able to quickly figure out what she needs.

6.  Beware of baby trainers.  I know that some people swear by baby trainers.  Whether it’s Ferber, Babywise, Healthy Sleep Habits, or whatever, I know that they work for some people.  Chloe isn’t on a schedule, or at least not one I came up with.  I’ve tracked her sleep habits and feeding habits and we’ve gotten on something that resembles a schedule some days.  But Chloe is in charge and I try to pay attention to what she needs.  Again, this is just what works for us.

7.  Balance.  This is the point that I struggle on the most.  Obviously, I hadn’t been out with my husband for 4.5 months until last week.  Finding balance is going to be my goal for the next couple of months because I think it will make everyone happier.

With all of that said, I think our parenting style is a moderate form of attachment parenting. We’ve taken some of the facets outlined and modified them to fit our lifestyle.  I think most things about AP would’ve been impossible if I wasn’t able to stay home with Chloe.  And that would’ve been just fine, too.

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6 Responses to “Attachment Parenting a la Mullins”

  1. averagechildhood May 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    I had a lot of pressure not to breastfeed from family, and unfortunately I think it might be because of the over-sexualization of breasts. Probably what the whole hoo-haa over that cover is about. I think modesty is great, but do women need to be modest about feeding their baby?

    • Leslie May 23, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

      Exactly! We’re growing human beings…why does it matter if you get a glimpse of a breast? Isn’t feeding our babies what they are made for? It really bothers me too, because it really is the best thing for babies. I think that a lot of babies miss out on the benefits of breastfeeding because of the kind of pressure you’re talking about. Breastfeeding is hard and the temptation to switch to formula can be high when things aren’t going great. Having the support of family and friends, etc,. really helped me get through the rough spots and keep at it for Chloe.

      • Brianne Johnson Wright May 23, 2012 at 4:56 pm #

        Breastfeeding is hard but I think a great support system is essential. I told my husband before Lily was born that I was going to need his support and encouragement, especially if I ever did start to get discouraged and talk about switching to formula. Fortunately for me Mitch was awesome and helped me stick with it. There were many nights (and days) where he talked me off the ledge!

  2. Colleen May 23, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Sounds like the “Mullins method” is working perfectly for your family! So happy you are doing what works for you!

  3. Brianne Johnson Wright May 23, 2012 at 4:41 pm #

    Co-sleeping wouldn’t work for us but morning co-naps do happen a lot and I love them. Unfortunately, I think too many people are misinformed about attachment parenting. A lot of people do see it as an all or nothing style of parenting. I am glad that it isn’t though. I like a lot of aspects of it but some are not practical as a full-time working parent, well at least practical all of the time. I may not be able to do any babywearing during the day while I am at work but that doesn’t mean I can’t apply those same methods when I am home with my child in the evenings or on the weekends.

    Anyway, Is it just me or does it seem like in a lot of ways now is an interesting time to be a new parent. So much in the press right now. It is almost a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of thing on every issue and people are overly critical of others.

    I wish more people would adhere to your way of thinking and realize that you have to do what is best for your own family and lifestyle. And the family next door, well they are doing what works for them. Even if it is different from what you and your family do.

    • Leslie May 23, 2012 at 4:54 pm #

      Very true. I feel like parents should support each other rather than cut each other down. It just doesn’t make any sense. Raising a kid isn’t easy and always feeling pressure to do the “right” thing only makes it more difficult. I’m a firm believer in our own instincts as parents and think people should just do what feels right for their child!

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