As a first time Mum, I had all these grand ideas in my head of what kind of Mum I’d be. What I’d do and what I wouldn’t. I had a very specific birth plan that I really hoped would work out (waterbirth, TENS, Gas & Air and, god forbid, no other drugs). My baby was going to wear cloth nappies, I was going to just breastfeed, I would only feed him/her homemade organic food, I’d never allow him to get into a routine of falling asleep on me and of course he’d sleep in his lovely moses basket/ crib/ cotbed. I’d try to use a sling but I’d have a pram as well, I’d never even vaguely consider elimination communication and I did think that attachment parents were making rods for their own backs. Whilst I wanted to be close to my baby and nuture him/her as much as possible, I wanted him to ‘learn to self settle’.
Oh god. Things have changed. My perspective on many things, including the above has altered HUGELY. It’s amazing how utterly unprepared you can be for such a little, teeny person invading your life, albeit in an amazing way that you wouldn’t change for the world.
Luckily, for me, a lot of things I wanted to do have worked out. I got the birth I wanted, even though (apparently) I did yell that I wanted a ******* epidural at the time when my son’s head was crowning. Yup…that was obviously not going to happen! I was very lucky – there’s only one waterbirthing pool in our local hospital, and I got it. Lots of other ladies aren’t so lucky. I was also incredibly fortunate that there were no other complications at birth for me, or Monkey and that I have a happy, healthy little boy. I count my blessings for that every single day.
Yes, I got to (so far) use cloth nappies on my little one, although I have had to use some disposables at night due to the thicker night nappies making his reflux much worse. I wasn’t a happy bunny when that happened, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I absolutely (obviously!) LOVE using my cloth nappies and get a real kick out of seeing his cute, fluffy bum. There’s something so nice about seeing a baby with a padded cloth bum and I thoroughly enjoy my ‘nappy stuffing’ time in front of the TV. I find it very relaxing (aren’t repetitive things like that quite soothing!) and I get a sense of satisfaction when I see the nappies all looking rather funky and ready to be used. Yes, I know that they’re poo-catchers – but at least they’re nice, soft, breathable and well, ok – pretty – ones!
Breastfeeding has been a huge struggle for me and I’m now in the amazing position where not only is Monkey pretty much exclusively breastfed, I’m actually managing to pump and freeze a good amount for sending to nursery with him. I still have some prescription lactose free formula just in case, but thanks to the amazing support that I’ve had from my local breastfeeding specialists, I’ve managed to achieve that goal. The nursery I’m sending Monkey to have been very supportive in my decision to send in frozen breast milk for them to defrost and use as required and the whole system that I’ve put in place is working really well so far, along with pumping at work (which is something that initially concerned me).
As far as food is concerned, yes I do actually mainly manage to give Monkey homemade stuff. But a few (organic) pouches of food have crept into his diet and I’m fine with that. I was originally going to do just Baby Led Weaning, and I was very passionate about it – but after the specialists told us that he needed some purees/ porridge to help with his reflux, I did relent and there was a massive improvement. He loves his food and is really starting to enjoy playing with finger foods now, which is great. Seeing him shove a stem of broccoli into his face is hilarious and he adores sucking on French toast! Sometimes being a bit more relaxed about things is better and I’m happy with the balance that I now have. I did beat myself up about not doing pure BLW, but he’s happy – so I am!
Attachment parenting is a whole other issue! After Monkey was born, Mr Clothbum and I went with what felt right after struggling with a baby that just would not settle, no matter what we did. We soon discovered that he had very bad colic and reflux and that cosleeping, with him in a more upright position, was the way forward. And we haven’t really looked back. Monkey does go into his cot at night but in the early hours of the morning he’s usually in with us, cluster feeding on Mummy. It works – brilliantly – and we both love having our baby so close. He’s gradually learning to settle himself but it’s a slow process and we’re fine with that too. He’ll get there – when he’s ready. The only downside is that I’d love to be able to sleep in a position that’s actually (properly) more comfortable for me, but when Monkey is with us, that’s not something that is achievable. Mummy just sleeps in which ever position she’s allowed to lie in!
I know that it means that he won’t go easily to others overnight at the moment, but that’s really not an issue for us. We have no family that live near us, so there’s no one that Monkey will be going to stay with on his own, really. Also, as a breastfed baby – its easier to keep him near me anyway. Then I don’t have the hassle of expressing more than I need to.
Since having him I’ve started to read more on the subject and found that a lot of the things that we’re doing (that I had no name for) are linked to the work of Dr Sears (and attachment parenting – yes, I really had no concept of it before!) His way of thinking, in my book, is well worth a read and I also absolutely love Mayim Bialik (she used to play Blossom). Her approach to parenting is a very refreshing one and one that sits very well with me. There’s a bit of a debate about her decision to circumcise her sons, but in my opinion, that’s her choice as a Jewish person. I personally wouldn’t circumcise unless there were medical grounds, but I’m not religious and I don’t want to judge others and their beliefs.
Elimination communication is another area that I’ve been reading into with a degree of fascination. I’m nowhere brave enough to attempt this, but I am going to start putting Monkey on a potty after his meals once he is stronger and more secure at sitting up. That’s the method that my mother-in-law, and other people of her generation, used with their children and lots of us potty trained much earlier than children do nowadays. But if Monkey does PT early – I’ll have to stop using my lovely nappies!
Food for thought! Right now, there’s probably someone reading this who’s making umming and ahhing noises about me making virtual rods for my own back. Yes, I probably am! But I’m going to have amazing posture as a result!