Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Katherine's Story: The Need for Attachment

Before I had Nathaniel I thought I knew everything there was to know about raising children. I knew exactly how I was going to take care of him, how much I was going to hold him without spoiling him, and how he was going to be the perfect baby. I guess I lucked out because I really do think he was the perfect baby. He slept well in his own crib, and loved to play on the floor. I never worried about spoiling him too much because he didn't even want to be held. It was easy for me to want another baby. I thought I must be a great mother, and my second child will be just wonderful and easy as the first. Then came Ethan into our lives.

I could tell he was different before we ever left the hospital. I joke that if babies can be spoiled, Ethan came out spoiled! He needed to be held constantly. We had a good first few days at home. He seemed to be sleeping well enough at nights, but it wasn't long before I realized things were going to be very different with him. I started keeping both boys by myself all day when Ethan was a couple weeks old. I realized very quick that my days of cleaning the house during the day were over. Ethan needed me constantly. He needed me for much more than just eating. I started doing some research online, and found the term Attachment Parenting. It basically says that you can't spoil young babies, and that some children have more needs than others. Ethan fit the high needs description to a T, and once I gave into the fact that he just needed to be held more, and it was ok to give him that attention, our lives started to change.

I started looking into different carriers to use while I did some housework and played with Nathaniel. Ethan loved being in the carrier, and it made everything so much easier. We were even able to finally leave the house again without Ethan crying the whole trip. I noticed a change in Ethan pretty soon after I started wearing him. He became a content and very happy baby. This a such a change from my fussy baby that never wanted to be put down. I would wear Ethan for an hour or more sometimes. We truly have become attached, and I absolutely love it. I love how confident I am at reading his cues and knowing exactly what he needs and wants.

Another thing I thought I would never do is cosleep. I made sure that Nathaniel never coslept with us. I was afraid of SIDS, and I was afraid that we would never get him out of the bed once we let him in. Cosleeping really wasn't that hard to avoid with him because he slept through the night just fine in his own bed. He would even let me lay him in there still awake and put himself to sleep. Enter Ethan again. I don't think he was a good sleeper after about his first month. He started taking only 20 minute naps, and did mostly the same all night. It seemed like he never slept unless he was in carrier. I still had it in my head that cosleeping was bad so basically I was just not sleeping for the first 3 months of Ethan's life. Then I got really sick from a kidney infection, but I was still breastfeeding Ethan. I didn't have the choice to just him off to someone else's care, nor did I want to do that. That's when I started bringing him into the bed. I told myself it was going to be very short time of him with us. It was just so much easier to have him in the bed and feed him at night. I felt much better each day after getting some real sleep, and I read several sleep studies that said babies actually breathe better next to their moms. Now that Ethan is older we have changed the arrangement some. He sleeps the first half of the night in his bed, then joins us when he wakes up. He is starting to sleep longer and longer, with the exception of teething, and I know there will be a day that he sleeps in his bed all the time. I know it's going to seem like such a short time that he spent with us, and we are all more attached because of his time in the bed.

I always knew I wanted to breastfeed my babies. I breastfed Nathaniel for 3 months, and only stopped because of health issues. I was determined to breastfeed Ethan for a whole year. Of course, I thought this meant pumping also so he could have regular bottles. Ethan is more particular on everything, and never cared for a bottle too much. He would take one when he was younger, but now he just refuses. Honestly, I don't think it is an inconvenience that he won't take a bottle. He will go 3 hours without eating, and it is just easy to never have to worry about preparing bottles. I love being able to take care of his need for hunger, and it is just natural to me.

Fast forward to now, and Ethan is such a happy 8 month old. He is moving all over the place. Some days we don't even use a carrier at all. He has confidence that I will be around when he needs me, and he is able to venture out and try new things. I never thought he could such a content baby from the way he used to be as an infant, but allowing us to become attached really has changed the lives of our whole family.

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