Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This thing they call AP

Attachment Parenting. I discovered it when the Angel was a few days old, I think, or maybe it was while I was still pregnant. And it felt deep-down-in-the-soul-of-my-bones-right.

Suddenly there was a whole bunch of websites saying that I didn't have to worry about holding my baby too much, indeed it was better for her to be up with me than alone in a crib or play pen. And that it was OK and even best for her to sleep safely next to me for as long as she needed. And that I didn't have to leave her to cry at night to 'learn' to fall asleep; that my touch, taste and smell were the perfect source of comfort until she naturally developed that ability on her own. That I could breastfeed for however long she needed, whenever she needed, and yes, it is perfectly normal for that to be 20 times a day. That it was natural for me to feel it in my heart when she cried and that responding immediately, if not sooner, was not spoiling her, rather it was showing her that the world is a safe place, and that her feelings are important.

You mean I could listen to my instincts, my heart, my every mommy-fiber and enjoy my baby fully? And that it won't turn her into a clingy, spoilt, tantrum-throwing, monster-being?

What a relief! Thanks Dr. Sears and API :)

And what was even better... MILLIONS of people, for THOUSANDS of years were doing exactly what I knew was right. It was how we survived and evolved as a species.

The ''training'' approach it turns out has only been around for a much shorter time, and only in Westernized cultures. The same cultures that have Post Traumatic Stress, sleeping disorders and a plethora of other mental health problems. The same cultures that have high crime and murder rates, high suicide rates, high i-dont-need-anybody-and-cant-let-anybody-get-too-close rates, and too many lonely people with ''commitment issues''.

How? Who? When did we feel the need to train our children like puppies? Sometimes even harsher than we train our puppies! When did we begin to forget that our precious babies have the same emotions, feelings, rights and needs as us? They just come in a smaller package. A package that learns best in it's own time how to move, communicate, eat, sleep, and use the potty. A smaller package that needs us bigger and more dextrous packages to help until they learn to do it on their own. A fragile little package in a huge, new world, that trusts us big 'uns to protect them as they learn. To comfort them when things get scary. To respect them as full human beings, their needs, their emotions, their temporarily limited physical abilities. To treat them as good as we would treat our best friend.

I've heard / read so many people talk / write about teaching their little ones to be independent because it is what is best for them. And then I thought that if we were meant to be like that, we would have been born as adults. Babies would be born talking, walking, eating, leaping tall buildings. Who would need a mommy?? Maybe we would just be like amoebas and pouf! Then there were two.

But instead we are born tiny, soft, dependent, unable to move around for ourselves, knowing only the smell and voice of the warm body that was our entire world. Our cries of need, pain, loneliness, fear, hunger and thirst cause changes in our mothers' bodies compelling them to comfort and soothe us.

Then come the experts with books to sell convincing our mothers to ignore our cries. Brainwashing those we trust into believing that we don't need really them.

I'm not judging those who chose a different path in their parenting. I believe that most mothers do the best they can with the resources and information that they have available, and out of love for their children.

But I don't understand why the so-called experts persist in spreading their methods when for years it has been proved to harmful, damaging and negative. Maybe that's unfair to say. Even Dr. Ferber has changed his position on sleep training.

I'm no expert, but I am a Mama. My baby sometimes sleeps for long hours, sometimes not. And this is normal. When she wakes up, she wants me to be there. And this is normal. She sleeps best next to me. I feel safest with her there.

One day, when she is ready, she will no longer need me 24 hours a day. She won't want the comfort and nourishment of my breast, the warmth and security of my body next to hers at night, or my arms to carry her around.

And something tells me that I will miss her.


bro said...

Touching. Mommy knows best.

Nan said...

Nah, you won't miss it that much. You will have done it TO THE FULLEST! Unlike many Moms, you will not look back and wish you had held her, smelled her, loved her more. She will keep surprising you, and as soon as you think you're missing one stage she will amaze you with another. And! Hey! Chas is TEN and we snuggled up the other night (not enough beds in Mayaro!) and slept in one bed, and it was nice. Bony, and radiating heat and pointy toenails, but nice. I stroked his sleeping hair, pulled his sleeping ears and wondered how this cool dude got to be so handsome, smart, and funny.

Scary Mommy said...

As you know, I have been struggling with this issue lately. I have been made to feel like a bad person because I can't bear to have my baby cry it out alone in his room. How can this be bad?

I seriously cannot thank you enough for your advice on this matter. I bought "The No Cry Sleep Solution" and read it cover to cover the past few days.

If it were up to me, I'd have him in bed with me as long as he wanted, but I'm willing to transition him out for my husband. Thanks to you, and the book, I now have the tools to do it gradually and kindly, and not to feel guilty in the process.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! :)