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.
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.
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.
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.