Thursday, April 14, 2011

Who am I kidding? I'm no Attachment Parent.

Before Lily was born, I knew that I wanted to practice Attachment Parenting with her. I felt such a connection with her as she was growing in my belly that I wanted to continue that special bond with her after she was born. I loved everything Dr. Sears had to say on the topic and I loved reading the Attachment Parenting International (API) website. 

"The long-range vision of Attachment Parenting is to raise children who will become adults with a highly developed capacity for empathy and connection. It eliminates violence as a means for raising children, and ultimately helps to prevent violence in society as a whole.

The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others."

I loved this thought. After all, who does not want to form and nurture a strong connection with their child? I imagined myself being one of those cute cloth diapering, babywearing, breastfeeding moms that always had a smile on her face and showered her baby with hugs and kisses. I would wear my baby so much that she would be like my cutest accessory to every outfit. I bought several carriers that would go with everything I owned. I could not wait to give birth to her! Of course I was going to have a natural birth! There would be no question about that. 

API has set forth Eight Principles of Parenting

1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

That's good and wonderful sounding, right? I can DO this! I can do this. 

1. I definitely prepared for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting. I read tons of material and had a wonderful birth experience. I often thank my daughter for "being so nice to her momma and giving her a wonderful birth experience." My father in law accused me of being the most prepared new mother he's ever seen. I was definitely on a roll!

2. Of course I was going to breastfeed NO MATTER WHAT! I've had my fair share of challenges, but my daughter has never had a drop of formula in her life. Of course, the whole Baby Led Weaning effort was an epic fail. No matter what we tried, she was going to gag and choke. I had to use the purees to sooth my worried heart. 

3. I used to respond to every peep that came forth from my baby's mouth. I wanted her to trust me, of course. As time wore on, it became impossible, at least for someone as lowly as me, to respond to her every peep immediately. At some point, the dishes just HAVE to be done and the clothes HAVE to be washed or CPS have something to say and they won't CARE how attached you are. They're going to see the filthy and unlivable conditions in which you and your baby live and have problems with that. 

4. I held my baby all the time. I mean, ALL. THE. TIME. This is where babywearing would help. Or SHOULD have helped. The first time I put my baby in the Moby wrap (a black one so it would go with everything) she screamed like I was torturing her. As well as the second time. And third time. And fourth time. Get the picture? She hated, loathed, abhorred it. She's finally gotten to the point where she likes the Moby and the ring sling, but only for the little while when we're out in public. She does not like to wear it around the house. I suppose this was my first huge failure, but I still considered myself an okay AP parent. She started becoming mobile and 3.5 months and full out crawling at 4.5 months. There was no need to constantly hold her because she wanted demanded to explore. She also enjoys her jumperoo and pack n play while I do housework. No really. She likes it. However, only for a little while. She has no problems letting me know when my time for housework is done. 

5. I've been dreading this one for the past four paragraphs. Can we just not talk about this one? I've recently written about our sleep journey up to this point. I am sad to say, that I have failed Attachment Parenting. I allowed my daughter to cry it out last night. In our exhausted stupor of indecision, we had run out of ideas. I read everything I could get my hands one, talked to dear and respected friends, and joined forum and forum to try to soak in any and every idea I could think of. But I failed. I failed myself and the kind of parent I hoped to be and more importantly I failed my daughter of the kind of mother she deserves. 

6-8. It pretty much does not matter what I have to say about the rest of these. I feel like I am changed somehow after last night. I've become humbled. The fall off my high horse hurts terribly and it might take me a long time to recover. I'll never be the same though. I'd like to think I'll never look down my nose at anyone else ever again, but I am only human. It won't be long before I think, "I my let my daughter CIO but I had no other options. At least I don't give my kid formula." Sounds eerily similar to what I hear inmates say on Lock up:Raw, "Rapists and child molesters are the worst. THAT is unforgivable." And I think, "Really? DUDE! You're in prison! You KILLED someone!"

Of course, I know myself and I'll still try. I'll still try to be a gentle and attached parent. I'm still going to do my best to be sweet to my baby. But I am really wounded right now. I feel like I'll never forgive myself, but I hope I can. It will be kind of hard with some of these unspoken AP rules that I've read about. Although Kaitlin seemed to be writing about these rules with a good sense of humor, she's not kidding. It's tough being an AP mom, not only because of what you do for your child(ren) and family, but because, if you want friends and community, you are subjected from TONS of judgement and guilt from other better AP moms. It's tough. 

These unspoken rules are tough for me to follow. She calls the the Eight Rules to Live By (or else):

1. Prepare for birth by planning to give birth naturally. At least I was able to do THAT, a hospital. So I'm on the bottom of the totem pole with that one. 

2. Circumcision is not attachment parenting. Well that one was easy. I have a girl. However, I've already made this decision a LONG time ago. 

3. Breastfeed your child. Okay. Maybe I'm not doing so bad?

4. There is no need to ever become frustrated, irritable or impatient with your child. Well, dang. I've felt all three. Even when I may have been happy and calm on the outside, I've FELT frustration on the inside.

5. Hold and wear your child as much as physically possible. I do that when she wants it. So there's my loophole. As much as physically possible means as much as she'll let me.

6. Cloth diapers are the only way to go. Oh yay! Doing something right.

7. Sleeping with your baby is safe and natural. Oh boo. We did for awhile. She's slept in our room with us from day one, and we coslept for awhile. Now our family is ready for a change. 

8. Eat organic food whenever possible (meaning all the time). Oh well. We are of modest means and eat what we can afford, which is NOT organic. 

So, it appears I do not have what it takes to hang with the cool kids. Too bad. At least I tried.


  1. Kristi, if you have even TRIED, you are still better than those who have not! I am going to send you a message now. Lily is SO lucky to have you for a momma!

  2. I didn't grow up on organic foods and I turned out just fine! :)

  3. I believe AP is a good thing. I would like to say I AP but its not fully true. I cloth diaper my son, we eat organic as much as we can, I wear him whenever we are out and when he was younger I wore him pretty much all of the time. We co sleep I breastfeed....still waiting on him to self wean. But I have learned some things just don't work for everyone when it comes to AP. Don't feel guilty about it. You do the best you can, which is more than a lot of people. Be proud of what you DO instead of being ashamed of what you DON'T DO!

  4. Kristi, Kristi, Kristi, I love you, but I think you're a nut.

    And quite frankly, organizations like API make me furious.

    How dare some self righteous person/people/organization judge a mother who needs pain medication during birth, or just can not breastfeed or choose to circumsise their baby boys or any other of their stupid "unwritten laws" that make normal, loving parents who are doing JUST FINE, doing THE BEST THEY CAN, feel like failures. Who are they to judge? Are they GOD? I don't recall a single talk from General Conference saying that AP is the Lord's choosen way to raise a child and that any other way will send you straight to hell.

    Let me just tell you that every child comes to earth with a distinct personality and I don't care what you do, they will grow up to be individuals with their own strenghts, weaknesses, trials and challenges. No matter how hard you try, some children will test every fiber of your being, some children will be easy, some will fall inbetween. All you can do is follow the LORD's way of parenting. That is the only judge whose opinion you should care about. As parents we aren't perfect. If we were, then we'd be translated and who would watch out for our kids? Just do your best, pray about your family situation and follow the promptings of the spirit.

    Sorry if I got off on a rant.


  5. Well said Jori! In absolute agreement :)

  6. In defense of the API, those "unspoken rules" are not something that they endorse or anything. Those are just rules that pop up whenever you talk to other AP moms. And it's not even AP moms you know in real life. It's those AP moms you will never see in person, the ones who can hide behind a computer screen, and whose words nonetheless hurt very much. I suppose if I had more to do in real life I wouldn't go running to facebook and online forums so much to try to deal with my concerns and questions about being a parent. I am new at this, and I am trying to find things that actually work that fit with the kind of person I am.

    And unmedicated childbirth is not a part of API guidelines either. That was a personal choice for me.

    I am just feeling extremely "not good enough" right now and wrote it on my blog b/c for some reason shouting those things that I'm not happy about from the rooftops makes me feel better.

  7. Heather, I agree with you! API doesn't say you HAVE to follow the "rules". They are guidelines for being a non-violent parent. Period. Dr Sears has the 7 "Baby B's" which go along the same lines. But no one says you HAVE TO FOLLOW EVERY GUIDELINE! It's simply a parenting style with suggestions on how to achieve what you are striving to be as an AP parent. The main idea is GENTLE PARENTING.

  8. The 'perfect' API parent is as mythical as the perfect 'Molly Mormon'. She truly does not exist. Every child is different, every parent is different, every home is different. We do the best we can with what we have to work with. We should be loving and supporting each other through parenthood and not pointing out our flaws or the flaws of others. The bottom line is, you ADORE Lily and are doing the best you can to parent her. That should be enough for everyone! <3 and (((hugs)))

  9. You say you are feeling "not good enough"--according to whom? And you have broken these "unspoken rules"--again, created by whom? Heavenly Father sent you this beautiful baby and trusted YOU and your husband to care for her. He believes in what you are doing and He believes in who you are. Trust in that and be guided by that, not some cyberspace world that throws out theories on how to be perfect. As long as your angel is safe, healthy, happy, and progressing, you are doing a great job. There is always room for improvement but that's why we aren't done learning and growing yet-you still have MANY years ahead of you as a mother to get better...and mess up.
    We have very different ways of approaching this motherhood role.I am a woman who has opted for induced labors, formula feedings, and disposible diapers. And I never embraced swaddling, cosleeping, or baby slings. I am not saying your ways are wrong or my ways are right. I am saying that we all have to find out what works for us and our children--and that varies from child to child. Trust yourself and stop trying to find the right answers in a book or a website. The right answers are in your heart.
    And if all else fails....just find comfort that you are doing more "right" things than me!! If your ever up in the Woodlands, look me up. I'll have a new baby next week to show off.
    Love you Kristi!!