Yes, I’ve ditched attachment parenting and this is why…
It started with my strong desire to breastfeed Bumblebee. You see, I was unable to breastfeed my first-born, Optimus, longer than 3 months. Even then, I was supplementing with formula most of the time. I went back to work after 12 weeks and felt like a failure for not being able to breastfeed. So, I was going to do everything I could to make it work the second time around.
How I was introduced to attachment parenting
During my pregnancy, I began implementing more and more natural ways to help me through the symptoms. Using coconut oil to prevent stretch marks and essential oils for nausea was my intro to subscribing to a slightly crunchier way of life. I researched about natural living and was intrigued. I wanted to give it a try. It was healthy for us, better for the environment, and I would save lots of money. Sounds like the perfect lifestyle, right? Little did I know, it would suck the life out of me.
In my Googling (is that a word?) of natural and crunchy parenting, I came across things like attachment parenting, exclusive breastfeeding, extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, essential oils, baby wearing, and co-sleeping. I wanted to try it all.
A week before my second son was born, I was added to a breastfeeding Facebook group. There was SO much information and advice on breastfeeding and I knew I would have the support I needed to succeed in my breastfeeding journey. When I read the info about the group, I found that they adhered to a more crunchy way of living and attachment parenting was the core of their advise. I found my jam, or so I thought.
My attachment parenting experience
The birth of my rainbow baby
Bumblebee was born by cesarean section, far from the natural birth that I had wanted. I didn’t get that golden hour experience and I wasn’t able to breastfeed right away. Already at a disadvantage, I was even more determined to make breastfeeding work for us.
In the hospital, he nursed constantly. He was literally at the breast for 45min at a time. My milk hadn’t come in so I was instructed to pump in between feeds and supplement with formula until then. I turned to my support group and was immediately drowning in comments like “why would they give you formula when there’s no indication? that’s absurd” and “don’t give the formula, they don’t know what they are talking about”. Geeze, sorry I asked.
Confused, I gave the formula just be sure he was actually getting something. I kept him at the breast as long as he wanted and pumped in between.
Bringing baby home: it begins
After bringing Bumblebee home, he nursed every hour. I would continue to nurse on demand and pump after each feed. My nipples were sore, cracked, and bleeding but I knew I just had to “power through”. Sleep was non-existent. I kept waiting for the moment when he would sleep through the night. All I wanted was 4 or 5 hours of straight sleep. When I asked for advice on sleep, I was given links to Kelly Mom, Dr. Sears, and blogs about the 4th trimester. Some of the things that were advised was:
“Oh hun, it gets better. But he needs you right now, you are creating a wonderful bond.”
“That’s just how breastfed babies are. Breastmilk is easily digested so they tend to eat more frequently. You are lucky if he sleeps through the night”
“Whatever you do, don’t do CIO (cry-it-out). It’s damaging to the brain and can cause long-term mental issues. I don’t know how mothers can do that to their kids and be okay with it. It’s straight up torture!”
“Sleep training shouldn’t even be brought up until after 1 year. Babies wake up for a reason.”
There I was, sleep-deprived and truly believing that waiting it out was the answer. Out of fear of guilt of being a selfish bad mom, I continued to do what was “best” for him.
The Attachment Parenting Lifestyle
He nursed whenever he wanted because it was good for my supply and I would create a strong bond with my rainbow baby. I didn’t introduce a pacifier because it was bad for the nursing relationship and who would want to trick their kid by giving them a fake nipple?
I wore him everywhere because babies who are held close to their mothers are less stressed, secure, confident, and more likely to succeed in life.
We co-slept because safe co-sleeping lowers the risk of SIDS, and who doesn’t love looking at sleeping babies? The security I felt hearing him breathe, and the warmth of his body was peaceful.
I used cloth diapers because they were economical, better for the environment, free of toxins, and so freaken cute.
Essential oils to treat my kids symptoms were chosen over OTC medicine because of “toxins”.
He always had homemade baby food and I would roll my eyes at the jarred cans. I would wait at least 6 months to feed my baby real food because of open-gut.
I was doing all the right things.
Why I ditched attachment parenting
By exclusively breastfeeding on demand, I was glued to my kid all the time. There was no routine, no schedules, no structure. Whenever, wherever, he got the boob. He became dependent on nursing for everything which SUCKED.
I decided to bring him into the bed with us at 2 months, which then turned into breastsleeping. Yes, breastsleeping. An act in which baby remains latched the ENTIRE night to feed on demand and nurse for comfort. While I may have gotten a little more rest, my body didn’t. I created a boobie monster that would be very difficult to wean.
You may also like: How to Wean your Booby Monster
He wasn’t interested in the pacifier, since I never introduced it. Rocking, bouncing, patting, and shhshhing would take For-Ev-Er to calm him, but the breast did the trick in 2 seconds. It was difficult for me to get a moment to myself, and it proved more difficult for my husband and other caregivers to calm him. Investing in a breast set from Meet the Fockers sounded very promising at the time.
Baby wearing was great, and it was convenient at times. I didn’t need to purchase a double stroller nor did I need to lug around the one that I had. But, I could not put baby down, ever. No bouncer, swing, jumper would occupy his time for more than 10 minutes. He loved being held and needed it.
Co-sleeping was great in the beginning, when he didn’t move much. Once he began moving, it was difficult. Instead of sleeping, he was either looking for the breast or trying to get comfortable. I slept with one eye open out of fear that he would roll off the bed. My poor husband has had his fair share of nights on the couch and gone are the days of cuddling with him.
Cloth diapers saved us so much money, thousands actually. But it is more work. More laundry, more folding. Just another thing to add to all the stress of not sleeping and trying to be the best parent for my baby.
Instead of heading to the grocery store to buy an OTC med, I spent hours researching essential oils for cough, fevers, colds, runny noses, rashes, ect. Then spent more hours trying to figure out which ones were safe. More work, more stress. Same went with making my own baby food.
I was tired, exhausted and not myself. I was short with my kids, quick to anger, and not happ. I silently judged other moms who had it “easy”, just like the attachment community that I had joined months years before. I was brainwashed. I ditched attachment parenting.
Not this time. Call me selfish but my sanity is more important so that I can be the best mom for my kids and the best wife to my husband.
Now that I’ve Ditched Attachment Parenting
I’ve given formula for long nights, we use a pacifier, he sleeps in his own crib (and comes into the bed sometimes), we don’t babywear all the time, I’ve given medicine for gas and questionable colic, and I’m currently sleep training my almost 2 month old (*gasp to the AP moms).
I’m happier now, less stressed and I don’t care of what people think of how I parent my kids. I don’t fit into a label. I’m not a crunchy mom, helicopter mom, or detached mom. I’m just a mom and I am the best mom for my kids.
I ditched attachment parenting because it made my crazy. I ditched attachment parenting and I feel great.