ha, i guess i am one of those "are you mom enough?" moms. heck, we all are in some way or another. i'm guessing we're all asking that of ourselves on the regular. but i'm one of those "extreme" moms. a mommy that stumbled on attachment parenting instinctually and found myself neck deep in it before i'd ever even knew it was a school of thought.
it was a perfect storm. baby was born. BAM! i was a mother. and just 19 days later, my own mother passed away. and just like that, all the emotional support, wisdom and hands on physical help a girl might want after having her first baby was nonexistent.
sure, my husband's mom was and is still alive and well, but, alas, she lives in germany and refused to come to the states.
i have no sisters, no close female cousins or aunts. no local BFFs. it was me, myself and i when it came to learning to care for a newborn baby. i trusted the lactation consultants who told me no bottles or pacifiers during L's 1st month of life. i had no one here to tell me otherwise. and as a result, at one month old, L wanted nothing to do with either. we tried the bottle, over and over. no go.
and that sealed the deal, all feedings were mine. around the clock. but wow! lucky for me, a few weeks in, L slept amazingly at night. nine-hour stretches. granted, he cluster fed from like five pm to nine or ten pm. just before the nine o'clock feeding we swaddled him and then i fed him peacefully off to dreamland. waking to his sweet cries around seven a.m.
the couch cluster feedings were hard on me, i was not used to being couch bound like that. i missed making dinner. making crafts. typing blog posts with two hands. ironically, nine months later though, i'm typing this post one handed still. (yep, L still prefers daytime naps in my arms.)
at around three and a half months, L started waking up throughout the night. crying hard, awaking two confused and naive parents. one rolled over and fell back asleep, while the other picked up baby and nursed him back to a pleasant dream state. sometimes eight times a night.
L's pediatrician said to move him to his own room and crib by four months, but that didn't happen. not with all the night nursing. i wanted him right next to me so i could hopefully fall right back to sleep right after breastfeeding him. L graduated from sleeping in his fisher price rock & play sleeper, to sleeping in his pack-n-play, still swaddled, a somewhat bumpy transition, but not terrible.
my thought process was, teach him to sleep flat first (the rock and play had baby sleeping at a cradled incline), then unswaddled, then in his own room and crib. HA. talk about a #NaiveNewbie!
two bottom teeth popped out at around five months, an explanation for a lot of the night waking, but definitely not all.
i read sooo much dr. sears in the middle of the night on my cell phone. i determined L was a high needs baby and began accepting my baby fate.
it should be noted, all L's naps took place in my arms, his carseat or his stroller. L loved loved loved being held and did not love his swing or any other give-mommy-a-break contraption, so i began carrying him in a sling i borrowed from the la leche league at around three and a half months.
so there i was, an answer-every-cry, baby-wearing, 'round the clock breastfeeding, baby-in-my-room mommy. L was a happy baby, as long as all of the above was taking place. 97% of the time by me and me alone.
the statement above still holds true to this day for the most part. i have upgraded to an ergo (should have bought MONTHS ago!), as L has grown too heavy for a sling. L is finally no longer swaddled (another semi rocky transition). L is still beside me in his pack-n-play. L still wakes up, anywhere between 1-4 times a night with expectations to eat back to sleep.
i. am. effing. tired.
i go to bed at 9PM. my life's pleasures and excitements must occur before then. and they predominately revolve around daylight hours and L's various daily activities. night's out for late dinners, shows and such are on hold until further notice. and this is how i survive what i state next.
i refuse, with my entire soul, to resort to throwing him in his room and letting him cry. the thought KILLS me. i'll stick this out, i'll walk around like a zombie sometimes, but i will not exile L and leave him to his own devices, when he has no way to articulate what his needs and fears are yet. i'm his mom. i'm here for him 24/7. whatever it takes. my commitment to him.
further, my reasons for him being in my room have evolved. yes, on an up-every-two-hours night, it's dire that he's right beside me, but on the other nights, i love being able to watch over him sleeping, at any hour, like a mama lioness. i love waking up to his round face and his chatter as he stands there, peering at me with a smile each morning.
truth is, this time of scooping him up, and cradling him in my arms for comfort in the middle of the night is fleeting, and will be a sweet, distant memory in no time at all.
so will carrying him close to me. i foresee myself fumbling through the rest of L's babyhood & toddlerhood much like i've done so far. instinctually and from my naive newbie heart. if that makes me an extreme attachment parent, so be it. let me state though, that considering the way i've raised L so far extreme is ludicrous. it's the very least i can do.
this all felt so incredibly, powerfully important yesterday when i read a Facebook status update referring to a small child that was struck down with terminal cancer and was now under hospice care. i could throw up at the thought. my heart is crushed as i think of that sweet boy's parents. today, he passed away.
love your babies. as hard as you can. hold them. cherish them. cuddle them. follow YOUR own mommy instinct when it comes to raising them, every single clumsy step of the way. because, this time with our wee ones is a mere blip in the grand scheme of things. a precious, precious blip.