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Wednesday, 17 November 2010

I'm not a New Age mother...I'm just me!

Today, I discovered a new blog Naturally Mummy.  It resonated with me.  It made me feel like I am not alone in the world!  Although Freddy is my fifth baby, and my experience with my other children has confirmed to me that my parenting techniques clearly do work, I still have a mild dose of embarrassment at how I choose to raise my babies. I tend not to talk about my ways to other mums because I know I'll be judged as some New Age ideologist.  This is ridiculous because my older children are all confident, successful, independent, well rounded, open, loving people. I have exteremely good relationships with them all and always have done. I did a good job...it can't be a total fluke, unrelated to their upbringing.  But singing my own praises is something that does not come easy to me. Even now, aged 41, I have a deep set insecurity that causes me to question everything I do, even when faced with the evidence, I find it hard to take credit for all that is good in my life. 

We are bombarded with childcare advice through the media.  How to lie your baby down to sleep, when to wean, what to feed them.  This imformation has constantly changed in the last 22 years.  When Joe was born we were told to lie them on their tummies at night and wean at 3 months.  Now it's "back to bed" and solids at 6 months.  Needless to say, in another 20 years time it'll all be different again.  Motherhood is not a science.  It is instinctive, organic and everchanging. 

My own personal view of mothering is that the baby is a little human animal.  They aren't privvy to the latest W.H.O. guidelines. All they have is their needs.  As a mum, I want to meet these needs in the most natural way possible.  With Freddy, I have breastfed on demand since birth.  He's never had to cry for a feed.  He's never known hunger.  He knows what he wants and I provide it.  Obviously since discovering the joys of solid food and diluted fruit juice, his need for his milk has lessened but is still a big part of his diet and his comfort.  At 15 months old, a lot of people think I should stop feeding him altogether, but I'm not in any rush.  The alternative, cow's milk, seems like an unnecessary step at this time.  I can provide perfect milk for him...and it's completely free!  No need to stop yet...maybe after I've seen him through Winter.  With all the germs that do the rounds, breast milk offers a degree of immunity and really does have magic properties if baby has a cold or a sickness bug!

In the same vein, I'm not a believer of babies needing to cry themselves to sleep.  Using the little animal analogy, a crying infant would attract prey to the nest.  The baby would lie close to its mother, safe in her proximity and with access to the life-giving breastmilk.  OK, I know the wolves won't come if I leave Fred to cry...but why does he need to cry at all. I don't want him to feel afraid, alone or unloved for even a second.  I know that is really emotive, and that babies forget in an instant, but for me personally, I just can't do it.  I don't have to do it and I'm fully prepared to sacrifice my "me time" for the next three years to satisfy my methods!  Luckily I have a husband who feels the same way.  He has named this technique and calls himself an "N.C" Advocate (i.e. No Crying).  We have co-slept with him since birth to no ill effect.  He has his own sleeping area...a three sided cot against my side of the king sized bed.  He is free to wriggle across to me for warmth, comfort or a feed and the disturbance to me and my husband is minimal.  He wakes up happy.  We know that this time next year he will be in his own bedroom, enticed by the lure of his own sports car bed.  It's not for ever...just for now.

 I guess our methods could be akin to the Attachment Parenting movement.  The portrayal of this on the TV recently showed the parents in quite a poor light.  They were almost mocked by the editing and shown to be weird New Age types.  The families portrayed were quite extreme and militant.  It's a shame therefore that most people would assume that someone who is raising their child in the Attachment method would breastfeed until the child is 8 years old or would let their newborn go nappy-less as a pro Elimination Communication fan.  We don't subscribe to these extremes.  We are two very normal parents doing what we personally think is best.  I've never really conformed to the norm and like to do my own thing, this is no different.  I'd never tell anyone else to raise their child like this.  It is hard, time consuming, intense, limiting and emotionally draining at times.  But I am dedicated to this approach and it is only for such a short time.  None of my babies raised this way have turned into clingy children.  They are very confident and self-assured.  They are independent and happy to put themselves to bed without any fuss.  Sometimes I do still feel guilty that I'm not more conventional...but this is when my husband simply says "You just have to look at our kids to know we're doing the right thing!"  and I know exactly what he means.

13 comments:

  1. From what you have written, and from previous blog posts, I'd say you are doing a damn fine job. You have 5 beautiful children who are happy and confident, who can confide in you and know you are there for them always. What more could you want?
    I am a big breastfeeding fan, I fed my daughter til she was 1 and I loved every second. Yes, it meant me giving up my evenings as and when she required me, but she's my baby - I'd give up every second if she needed me to.
    I really enjoyed your post - and I also really enjoy the blog you have found today.
    xx

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  2. Excellent piece of writing hun! I'm the same, I'm extremely relaxed and that bugs alot of people and so I often keep my mouth shut when parenting related things come up because I know my view will be shot down as being "New Age Mumbojumbo"

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  3. Thanks for your kind words and support ladies! This is what I really love about blogging...finding lovely like minded mummies!! It's so nice to know there are other mums like me out there :) xxx

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  4. Crikey, anyone who can raise five beautiful children must be doing an awful lot of things right. I loved breastfeeding, if either baby woke in the night they slept next to me. It just seemed the natural thing for us to do.

    great postx

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  5. I've never been one to conform either. For my babies, I just followed my instinct. I couldn't leave mine crying either and fed them for a long time, especially my son.
    People always want to label you. I'm not a New Age mother either, far from it. Like you, I'm me, with lots of facets to my personality.

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  6. I think we should all do what's right for us and for our babies. The only thing that changed my methods was having another baby 17 months after the first... after that, number 1 was definitely doing a lot more crying and a lot less feeding!! x

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  7. The best advice is in this one line: "we do what we think is best". It's all we have as parents.

    Thanks for Rewinding at the Fibro this week. :-)

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  8. Great post. I love that we both know it is for such a short period of time. As parents we are simply doing our best, and everyone's "best" is different. Liked reading how you are doing it, sounds like you're raising great kids.

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  9. True, you just have to do what feels right for you. Good for you for following your own instincts.

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  10. My advice to anyone is always "do what is right for you, listen to all advice but only go with what feels right for your family. You obviously have a very happy and loving family and shouldn't change a thing.

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  11. Great post. I love that we both know it is for such a short period of time. As parents we are simply doing our best, and everyone's "best" is different. Liked reading how you are doing it, sounds like you're raising great kids.

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  12. I've never been one to conform either. For my babies, I just followed my instinct. I couldn't leave mine crying either and fed them for a long time, especially my son.
    People always want to label you. I'm not a New Age mother either, far from it. Like you, I'm me, with lots of facets to my personality.

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  13. Excellent piece of writing hun! I'm the same, I'm extremely relaxed and that bugs alot of people and so I often keep my mouth shut when parenting related things come up because I know my view will be shot down as being "New Age Mumbojumbo"

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