I've been thinking a lot lately about parenting and how my style and method has evolved from the first child to the third. How different people have influenced me along the way and how my life has changed just by having these little people in it!
Madeline. My first child. Born in september of 2001. She was long awaited and none too eager to get here ;) After a failed induction, getting to 9.5 cm's and then an "emergency" c-section (my doc had a golf game) she was here :) Bright eyed and bushy tailed. We took her home and placed her in her beautiful crib in the middle of a fully decorated nursery. We looked around at all the items we were sure we would be using on a daily basis (stroller/carseat travel system, exersaucer, swing) and were content. We were content... until she started screaming. AND DIDN'T STOP for about 3-4 months. We learned very early on that OUR baby would have none of our detatchment parenting style and we had to learn how to let her tell us what she needed.
So Madeline spent a good deal of time in our bed, in the sling, on our laps... and previously mentioned baby gadgets went unused ;) Having switched to formula with her early on, I then relactated and worked for 5 months to get her back to the breast so she could have the goodness of mommy milk. I spent hours each day in bed with her skin to skin and bonding. I also spent hours each day just crying... why was she not happy? What were we doing wrong? Hours every night Jeff and I sat and sang to her to try to get her to sleep. Old king cole was a favourite ;) We were certain that she NEEDED to go to bed at 9pm and we'd start an elaborate bedtime routine at like 7... lol! We put so much time and energy into getting her to sleep that by the time she finally went down we were exhausted!
When Madeline was 11 months old I became pregnant again... cue...
Olivia! The second born anime sprite was born. After a failed home water birth turned c-section for a prolapsed cord she was here. The most lucid babe that ever was... she didn't cry until she was about 9 months old. Mellow was her middle name. Parenting a young Olivia was the easiest thing I had ever done. She nursed like a champ. Slept with us from day one (I had given away our crib as we had never used it) and was a slinging fool. She slept when she needed to, came to bed when I went to bed, nursed when ever she wanted... maybe that was why she was so mellow?
After a loss at 9 weeks and a long troublsome pregnancy we now have
Phoenix! He's a gentle mellowish little babe. We parent him exactly how we did Olivia. He is worth the trouble that we went through to get him here.
During the span of the last 5 years I have become a LLL leader, become a Mother Goose leader, took part with Olivia in Roots Of Empathy (the pilot project in PG), taught Attatchment parenting classes at our local woman's group and served on a board at our hospital to make it and the town more breastfeeding friendly.
I've nursed babes now for a cumlative 7 years (so far!).
Embraced all aspects of attatchment and natural parenting. We breastfeed, extended breastfeed, child led wean, co-sleep, gentle disipline, baby wear, cloth diaper, feed a diet of mostly natural foods, don't vaccinate, don't circumsize, use homeopathic medicine and are just in general trying to provide an environment for our kids to become the best kids that they can be!
Has it been easy? Nope. Jeff and I are fond of saying that we always do things the hard way... but really? If you put the effort in NOW with your kids it saves you time and hardship later on.
I'm curious to see how our kids turn out. I don't think they are perfect (far from it) but on the whole they are gentle, kind, polite children that most people say are fun to be around. I know that I like to be with them, seeing them grow and change. Every time that Madeline is kind and loving to her sister I want to cheer! Every time that Olivia uses her gentle words without resorting to whining I am very proud. Every day is an adventure and we are learning together. Just as I let them tell me how they had to be parented as babes... I am learning to let them tell me now what they need and how they need it.
I love being a mother to these three absolutely gorgeous children. They are my life... my soul... sure I get tired and cranky and want to chuck them out the window sometimes (I am only human!!!) but I would not trade my life for anything.