You made me feel __________!

Lately it seems that I am in charge of multiple people’s lives. I must be because I seem to have the power to change their feelings and emotions. I dictate their happiness. This is of course a ridiculous idea. I cannot cause, force, mandate, or otherwise control other people’s feelings. The same is true in reverse. I am responsible for feeling happy, sad, angry, or guilty. What I may feel guilty about may be silly to someone else and likewise what another feels guilty about could be no big deal to me. It is all internal. It is a choice. now before I get to deep into this I want to put a side note on my above statement. I do not believe that people with true depression or other mental illness can simply “feel happy” and they will be happy. There are always exceptions but for the purpose of this post, the focus is on guilt and I do believe that you can control that within your self.

Many of my fellow bloggers, writers, or just outspoken advocates for natural parenting, pregnancy, and birth etc. have been faced with someone saying “you are judging me” or “you made me feel bad about my choices.” That is not what we are here to do. I have said (and I know others have as well) countless times that mothers from past generations are exempt from feeling bad about what they did in the past. The reason for this is that it is most likely that they made the decisions they did with the best knowledge available at the time. They may have even been following the advice of a doctor. On top of that, there were simply not as many options or support. I have to say also that even today there is obviously exceptions for medical reasons. To me that goes without saying but recently I had to explain that to someone.

So, if you circumcised, formula fed, had an elective c-section, chose to be induced, or practiced “detachment parenting” principles let it go and move on. When I post or discuss a scientific study on any of these topics or I encourage and educate new parents not to practice these principles, I am not saying you are a bad parent. I am not saying that you are an awful person and that your children should hate you. I am saying that there is now scientific evidence showing that these past practices should not be continued. I am saying that today there are many more options and therefore fewer excuses or barriers. I am saying that the ideas of the past have been proven to be damaging and dangerous and now that we know that we should do better in this and future generations. Now there is tons of research showing that circumcision should never be preformed on infants. Every workplace must allow pumping breaks for working mothers. Mothers can pump, use milk donation, and even a wet nurse instead of formula. Every study conducted shows that early inductions and elective c-sections are damaging and dangerous. They simply should not be done except in medical emergencies. There is much evidence showing that parents should never let their babies cry alone and that practicing Attachment Parenting principles where possible is truly best. These are not opinions, they are facts.

I am not telling you to feel guilty. I am not judging you. I am asking you to do one thing. Now that you have been made aware that those past practices are very damaging and that science backs up that idea, do not continue to encourage them. Do not say “I’m fine” or “my kids turned out fine” or any other justification for continuing out dated parenting styles or practices. If you feel guilty about your choices, deal with that internally. No one can MAKE you feel guilty and no one else can lift that guilt off of you. You have to do it. Maybe, one of the best ways to make amends would be to help new parents not make the same mistakes. Help promote science based parenting principles.

“I did my best with what I knew then. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou

I am not perfect. I am not super mom. I have made and I am sure I will continue to make mistakes. I have done things that I will never do again and I have done things with my oldest child that I have not done with my second child. I am sure that if I have a third there are more things that I will do differently. You learn as you go. I want to share a bit of my story so that people can understand where I am coming from. Here are a few things that I have done, how I changed them, or I what I would change.

1. I allowed Pitocin to be used to speed up labor with my first child. I regretted this so I stayed at home most of my labor with my second and achieved a fully natural birth.

2. I encouraged my daughter to wean at 15mo. because I was about to deliver my son and I was told that I had to wean her 3 months before the birth to avoid any problems. I will nurse my son until he self weans regardless of his age or if I have another baby.

3. When my daughter was 18mo I tried a “gentler” controlled crying program to get her to sleep alone in her room all night. I didn’t do very well with it because if she cried I picked her up but I still made her sleep away from me and go to bed alone as long as she wasn’t crying. I now room and bed share with both of my children. My son is always in my bed and my daughter moves back and forth between her bed in my room and my bed.

4. I had always planned to circumcise my son. I just thought it was supposed to be done and i was actually irritated when I first heard of people trying to outlaw it. Thankfully I found all of the information I needed to make the decision before my son was born and he remained whole.

As parents we all make mistakes. We simply have to do better next time. So stop feeling guilty and especially stop blaming that guilt on others. It is no one elses fault or responsibility. Let it go and move on. Make amends by not continuing to promote these outdated ideas. Encourage new mothers to follow science and trust their maternal instincts. That is all you can do now.

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Catching Up

Over the last week or so I have had many things pop into my head that I wanted to blog about. Experiences that I had or things I read. I finally have a second to get it all down. I will start on a good note with something that happened earlier in the week that mae me feel so good about what I do. I had a friend who has had a bit of a struggle with her first baby who was born in March. I have answered her questions many times and tried my best to help in anyway that I could. I gave her “The Attachment Parenting Book” by Dr. Sears about a week ago. Earlier this week when we saw each other again she told me how thankful she was that I had shared that with her. she told me that the night before it was given to her (via my mom who is actually her next door neighbor) she had been on the phone with her mom and she told me that all of her family is unsupportive of her gentle parenting style. They have told her that her son needs to be on a bottle and sleeping alone in his crib all night even if he has to cry. Her son is not even 3 mo. old! She said that all of those things feel wrong to her and she was not only thankful for my continued encouragement but to have all of her feelings validated by a book writen by a doctor no less. It had come at the perfect timeing and given her that bit of strength to continue on her path even without family support.

On another good note I was happy to read a post from The Path Less Taken about Facebook Parenting and discipline. The post was focused on the recent outburst of parents humiliating their children over social media as a form of “discipline.” Whether it is a father shooting his daughter’s lap top or a mother setting an embarrasing status on her son’s Facebook it is not something that should be glorified. I remember the first time I saw this form of humiliation discipline. I was driving to visit my parents several years ago and there was a child standing on a busy street outside of their condo complex wearing a sign saying something like “I am a bad child because I do not want to go to school” or something like that. I was shocked! How horrible. My mom and I could not believe what we were seeing. We both thought that was awfull! I was glad that The Path Less Taken took a stand on this issue.

Now to the not great stuff. I recently met my cousin’s baby for the first time. She was born just two weeks before my son. Everyone had told me she was a very high need baby and that she screamed all of the time. She is and she does! My cousin is at her wits end and I feel so bad not being able to offer much support or advice in that category. I do not feel that my suggestions would do anything but instil guilt anyway and that is not something I want to do. Her home is very stressful. I did not even fully notice it until I had left but when I did I was overwhelmed with the feeling of anxiety. I am hoping that by helping her find support from other moms of high need babies I can help. Then this morning I read that one of my FB friends someone who I would not consider a friend outside of FB, announced that she has scheduled her c-section. Now let me say that I am not sure of teh circumstances and I am simply going off her percieved sense of excitement about it. Why do people do this!? How could anyone be excited about major abdominal surgery with many complications for both the mother and baby? I will never understand it. But everyone’s journey is different.

I am thankful for how easy my pregnancies, births and my children are. i wish every woman was blessed in that way.

Time Magazine Article on Attachment Parenting

As promised I am giving my review of the Time magazine article on “extreme” attachment parenting. To give you an idea of how it went, I had to stop reading it twice because I was angry. The article, in my opinion, did its best to portray the Attachment Parenting as a crazy, impossible, dad exiling crazy train that makes moms lives harder and secludes them from society. Of course this is absurd! I practice AP. I still have friends, my husband loves parenting this way and feels closer to the kids, and it has made my life sooo much easier! The article seemed to imply that there were no adjustments to AP. As if every family had to be the same and use AP the same way. It said that AP says that you must bed-share. In the book The Attachment Parenting Book what is said in regards to sleeping location is this “where ever mom (dad etc.) and baby get the best night’s sleep is where the baby should sleep.” In fact Dr. Sears recommends a side car or bassinet next to the bed. In no way is bed-sharing the only option. In fact every bit of AP is following yours and your baby’s natural instincts and impulses. How can this possibly be wrong? You design a plan that works for you and your baby using gentle, natural techniques that help you form and strengthen a bond with your child. And again, in response to the idea that fathers can’t use AP or that it pushes fathers away… I do not think they actually read the book. There is an entire chapter on father bonding. Basically this article was used to sell magazines. It was written in a way that sheds a negative light on a very simple, natural, and loving way to parent. It focuses on three key points of AP and makes them out to be the hardest and worst things to do. The three staples are

1. Breastfeeding: I am sorry but if you do not know that breast is best in 2012 I do not know what to say to you. Its common sense! The article however painted a picture that if you breastfeed and practice AP you MUST breastfeed until your child is at least 10. This is of course absurd again. The entire point of AP is following you and your baby’s cues. Do what works best for you. Most current scientific evidence shows that the longer you breastfeed the better. There are no risks or side effects so why not go until you and your child want to stop. If you and your baby wean at 12mo. 18mo, or 6 years if it works for you both that is all that matters. That is AP!

2. Co-Sleeping: This was described as bed-sharing only! Co-Sleeping really means being in the same room. What is so wrong with that? Babies sleep better when they are next to their mothers. I do not know why any mother would not want to consider an option that helps their baby sleep the most and in turn helping themselves sleep more. Now I do bed-share with my son and room share with my daughter with the occasional bed-sharing. That is what works for me. They both sleep through the night that way and are happiest that way. So why not?

3. Baby Wearing: Again I do not understand the problem here. My life has been made SO much easier because of my Sleepywrap. I am carrying my baby with my hands free to do chores, tend to my toddler, or do anything else I need to. Both of my children have been so comforted by my wrap that they almost instantly fall asleep when they are in it. It is not at all a strain on me and in fact makes everything 10 times easier. If you have a physical condition that makes it impossible for you to baby wear then don’t do it. AP allows for many other ways to be close to your baby.

Let me recap these three things that supposedly make my life so stressful and demanding and make my life as a parent so much harder. Breastfeeding, I never have to remember bottles or formula, hope for a microwave or serve it cold. I never have to let my child cry while I mix up a bottle. I never have to worry if it is too hot or too cold. Oh yeah and its free. That’s ignoring all of the health benefits for both of us too. Such as a 20% reduction in breast cancer for every year I breastfeed. Co-Sleeping, my son and I have slept through the night since he was 3 mo old. When there were occasions like growth spurts where he wanted to eat more at night I barely noticed because he was right there latched on and we both went back to sleep. I could never complain! And let me just say that we are the only animals that for some reason feel the need to separate our young from us to sleep. It isn’t natural! And last but not least baby wearing. This helps my baby nap. I can still do chores or play with my toddler. I have total freedom at the same time I am supplying total care to my baby.

If you still feel that AP is extreme I suggest that you first read The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. Sears so that you really know what AP is. And if it still isn’t right for you, fine! All I ask is that you do not accuse me of being crazy because something works for me. I put my children first and AP helps me do that. Period!