Adventures in Attachment Parenting: Trusting My Instincts By Allison Silver
As I am sitting here writing this my baby girl is about to turn one. How did this happen? Just yesterday I brought home a little newborn baby. Who kidnapped my baby and left me a toddler? It’s kind of a funny spot to be in. On the one hand I am excited to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday, but on the other hand I find myself mourning the end of this first year.
This first year has been packed with so many learning opportunities for us as parents. It’s amazing how much we have grown over the course of one year. The one thing that I think I have learned the most this past year is to trust my instincts as a mother. If I could sum up attachment parenting in one phrase it would be: trust your instincts.
I don’t think I really understood the concept of trusting your instincts until after our daughter was born. When they placed this little bundle in my arms at the hospital I was amazed at how my maternal instincts kicked right in. Our daughter was born almost five weeks early and was what many people would define as a “high-needs baby.” Since her birth I have trusted my maternal instincts to help lead our family in the right direction. Even when people or medical professionals have disagreed with me I have held fast to trusting my maternal instincts.
When she was first born she had a difficult time breastfeeding. Since she was born premature, the fat pads in her cheeks were not fully developed yet, and so she would tire out before she was full. I was adamant that this baby would only have breastmilk and refused to let anyone supplement with formula. I met with lactation consultants and also sought out the support from our local La Leche League group. I am very proud to say that she has been exclusively breast fed for her entire first year and I am hoping to continue breastfeeding throughout her second year as well.
Shortly after we arrived home we realized that our daughter wanted to be with us and was not content sleeping away from us in a bassinet. I struggled with this for awhile. I brought her into our bed, but I read parenting books that told me this was the worst idea ever. I knew in my heart that cosleeping made the most sense for our daughter and once again I trusted my instincts. I am glad I did. I like having her close to me and when she wakes up at night it’s so much easier to comfort her or feed her and help her go back to sleep.
I had planned on returning to work when our daughter was five months old. But after my initial maternity leave of eight weeks was over, my husband and I both knew that I couldn’t go back to work. This was a hard decision for me. Before we had a baby my career was everything to me and I had worked very hard to climb that professional ladder. However, after having her I just knew in my gut that there was no way I could go back.
Sometimes the academic in me still likes to supplement my instincts with reasearch. For example, everyone told us that we should be feeding our daughter solids at six months. I felt that since she was born early, we should start solids later to give her tummy a little extra time to develop. I researched the issue and decided to start solids at seven months. Since introducing solids, we have not had any problems. Who knows if waiting that extra month made any difference, but it’s what I was comfortable with so that’s what we did.
Attachment parenting believes in trusting your maternal instincts and doing what is best for you and your child. The choices that we have made may not be what’s best for every family. Every family’s situation is so different and unique, but it has been the best choice for our family. I am so very glad that this past year has opened me up to become more aware of and to listen to and trust my own intuition. Although I will miss the baby stage, I am excited to experience the other “firsts” that this second year will bring and to see us continue to grow as parents.