How I Became an Attachment Parenting Mom

by Dagmar Bleasdale on June 4, 2009

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People sometimes ask me why or how I became an attachment parenting parent, and that made me wonder myself. The truth is that I never planned to be an attachment parent, I didn’t even know about it until Landon was about two years old.

It wasn’t until a few months ago that I finally made that connection. I saw Dr. Sears The Attachment Parenting Book in a thrift store and bought it. After reading what AP entails, it finally clicked and I thought, “I guess I have been attachment parenting all along without really knowing it!”

I cannot remember attachment parenting coming up in any of the reading I did during my pregnancy or when Landon was a baby. Yes, my doula, who was also our Bradley coach, emphasized babywearing, breastfeeding, and co-sleeping, but what happened was that I just followed my instinct from the second Landon was born about what I believed to be the best thing for him.

After wearing him a lot, co-sleeping with him, and breastfeeding him into toddlerhood, I guess I can legitimately say I’m an attachment parent, and now I’m a huge advocate of it.

Breastfeeding

My mother did not breastfeed my brother or me — she was very much discouraged, sadly — and did not encourage me to breastfeed. I also only had one friend who was breastfeeding and only heard that all my sister-in-laws had breastfed their children. Yet once I found out that I was pregnant I knew one thing for sure: I wanted to breastfeed.

It was one of the things I looked forward to the most. I just had a feeling that being able to provide the nourishment he needs to thrive would be an amazing experience, and I wasn’t going to miss that. After two weeks of painful struggle with nursing, I finally met the right lactation specialist who taught me to latch on lazy little Landon correctly. After longing for this deep connection with my child and reading about all the health benefits for Landon and myself, I wasn’t going to give up, and I am so glad I didn’t.

My little baby is now two years and seven months old and still nurses several times during the day and night. I had no idea I would breastfed him this long, but I count is as one of my proudest accomplishments in my life to be able to do this for Landon, another one being able to birth him without drugs.

One more huge plus: the baby weight came off by itself. Breastfeeding has been the easiest diet I have ever been on. I now weight less that I did before getting pregnant.

Babywearing

I never figured out how to be one of those lucky moms who wear their babies all day and can get everything done with their baby strapped to them. Landon didn’t like the two carriers we had, and I still always had to hold him with one arm when I wore him, so working with him was not an option. I was working as a freelance subtitle editor from home after his birth and needed both hands free.

When he was about six months old, I finally bought a Maya wrap and I absolutely loved the wrap for outings and especially for traveling to Germany. I would put Landon in his Maya wrap at the beginning of the flight and he would only come out for diaper changes. People around me had no clue I was breastfeeding him and always commented on how well-behaved he was. I would proudly beam at them and say: “Isn’t breastfeeding the best?,” getting a kick out of the surprised looks I often got. I have been absolutely comfortable with breastfeeding in public from the beginning — my son gets fed just like any other child that is hungry, on demand, and I won’t have a discussion about that. I used the Maya wrap until he was over two years old.

Co-sleeping

Landon has slept in our bed since the first night. It was what felt right then and it still does, no matter what other people say or how many times my mother asks me if Landon is sleeping in the beautiful crib my parents bought for him.

My doula told me to spend as much time in bed bonding with the baby as possible in the first few weeks. That’s exactly what I did; I took my time to get to know my little son and we both needed to learn how to breastfeed. We had a beautiful crib, but Landon didn’t sleep in it much. I would swaddle him and he would sleep in there or his playpen during the day, but during the night he was always between Don and me.

I never once was afraid that it wasn’t safe; the example of my doula, who co-slept with her three children, was a great encouragement. I would wake up for a few second every time Landon stirred and adjust the blanket or my pillow if I thought it was too close to his face. Since figuring out how to breastfeed him lying down I have always gotten great sleep. Landon never gave us much trouble during the night, he is a great sleeper, partly due to breastfeeding on demand, of course. I haven’t prepared a bottle in my life (Landon doesn’t like my pumped milk), so there never was a lag time between Landon wanting milk and getting it, which makes for a very content baby.

So there you have it, I became an attachment parenting follower through osmosis, what came naturally — wanting to take care of him in a gentle, loving way that takes his needs into consideration first — turned out to be attachment parenting.

I encourage you to follow your heart and instincts when caring for your child — don’t be concerned with what name a certain method has, don’t be afraid to ignore other people’s suggestions, and weed out parts of a parenting style that don’t work for your family.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth in SF January 16, 2010 at 8:03 PM

Sounds a lot like my AP story! I just stumbled on the term the other day, and I’ve been practicing many of the principles with my 20 month son all along, but didn’t know it! Thanks for sharing your story, and I look forward to reading your blog and discovering more about AP.

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Dana June 30, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Hi! I have so many questions for you but all of the sudden I lost them. Isn’t that just the way?? I am still breastfeeding my baby who is now almost 16 months old. I have no plans to stop breastfeeding him but my one concern is that I do want to get pregnant again and my menstruation hasn’t returned. What is your take on that? Did you have a delay in that returning as well and if so how long? I guess I think I’ll have to stop breastfeeding to have a full chance at conceiving again. (It took us 2.5 years to conceive with our first (and only) child. When do you plan to stop co-sleeping? We co-sleep as well and I do know that as long as I breastfeed I want to co-sleep (isn’t it so nice?) but I don’t know how long we’ll want to co-sleep when that ends.

Thanks for listening. I’d love to hear your answers. I just love your blog (found it only tonight!). :)

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Lorin June 10, 2009 at 6:23 PM

Interesting post and educational. I am probably the opposite of you! :-) I raised my children much differently so, I like that you add in that you should follow your heart about what’s right for your child. I would add “what’s right for you as a parent, too.” There are different ways to raise your children and for me it was to follow what my children needed AND what I needed. For me it was very different from the Attachment Parenting that you talk about. But, both kids were slightly different, needing different methods from me. I think so many time partents do things because they think they have too and that’s not right. We have to be happy or our kids aren’t happy.

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Amy June 7, 2009 at 4:37 AM

I really like this post. I didn’t realize that I followed most closely to that of an AP style until I heard about it at my nursing moms group. I read more about it and just thought it made more sense because it is really what came naturally to me.

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Lisa @ Final Score: Boys3 Girls2 June 6, 2009 at 2:44 AM

I did know i was an AP’er either until my #4 was older and i heard the term. I was just doing what was good for our family. The only one of my kids to like the sling was #5 and it wasn’t until i got the Maya wrap.

Thanks for sharing!!

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Summer June 5, 2009 at 4:22 AM

Love this post! I love hearing how different moms came into their style. I had never heard of AP either until my first was older, so I was just doing what seemed natural to me.

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