I read this article from New York Magazine about how being a parent makes you THINK you are happier, but you're not.  Apparently, most academic research studies indicate that people with children are less happy overall than their peers without- the findings are so conclusive that its accepted as a general fact in academia.  But as I read the article, I really felt like it's not parenting that makes people unhappy, but the ridiculous expectations parents have for themselves because "OMG! I am molding a future god knows what here!"

People need to realize that their happiness is all in the choices they make.  If your expectations for you, your life or the people in your life are too high AND you have decided to base your happiness on the rate at which those expectations are met, you're setting yourself up for unhappiness.  It all comes down to choices you make.  There is nothing wrong with having high-expectations just as long as the gratifying elements in life have nothing to do with meeting them- typically then they are called "goals."

I think "society" and what it "deems acceptable" or "expects" of people is whack, period.  But with parenting, it's all whack to a much higher level.  It's funny to me because, as very soon-to-be parents, my husband and I have made decisions on how we want to raise our child.  Most of the decisions we've made happen to align themselves with the way a majority of children in the world are raised: natural birth, co-sleeping, breast feeding, elimination communication, baby wearing- people in Africa/Asia call it "normal."  Unfortunately, my husband and I have decided to do these things in the Western World, where they are considered ass-backwards, too difficult, nonsensical, or hippie parenting- like there is something inherently wrong with being a hippie [insert rolling of my eyes].

We didn't wake up one day and say to ourselves "hey, lets look to the Third World on how to raise our baby."  When we got pregnant for the first time it was a complete surprise, but we had been thinking about doing it SO we had started looking into what techniques would fit us best.  The first thing you read about affecting parents when you read about newborns is sleep deprivation.  This was a big deal to us because I have narcolepsy; that's right, I am a fully bona-fide narcoleptic.  I am lucky enough to not lose consciousness without warning, my case is not that severe, but high emotions and high stress most definitely put my brain into sleep mode.  I get cataleptic when I laugh really hard or make fun of someone, and I have regular sleep paralysis and hallucinations.  And, all of it gets worse when I am sleep deprived!  So as subtle as my narcolepsy is, it's something Marc and I do have to plan our lives around.  My narcolepsy led us to research co-sleeping- the facts are all online and in books, so I'm not going to reiterate them.  Co-sleeping essentially appealed to us because it meant I wouldn't have to get totally out of bed and travel to a separate place to take care of baby in the night.

Of course I would be the one ALWAYS getting up because I was going to breast-feed.  That wasn't even a choice for Marc and I.  We were both breastfed as babies; I remember my mom breastfeeding my younger sister.  All my life breastfeeding just seemed like what a mom does once the baby is born, so the reading I have done on breast feeding in the past year has really surprised me.  Apparently breast feeding isn't considered "normal" in Western society.  The Western World tries to act like breastfeeding is the accepted feeding normal, but it doesn't really.  If it did, then people wouldn't tell you that the Dad should get to feed the baby too, like you're depriving him of some sort of incredible experience.  a) The Dad can participate in the feeding without actually doing the food delivery; and b) if the Dad was going to be deprived by not going through the "feed the baby" experience, his breasts would produce milk too.  So Marc and I never even had to discuss breast feeding except to say "duh" and that led us to learning about co-sleeping.

So if you do an internet search for say, a parenting book that covers both breast feeding and co-sleeping, you're going to find out about Attachment Parenting.  Breast-feeding and bed-sharing are two of the "b's" of Attachment Parenting.  One of the other "b's" is baby-wearing, and we just happened to really start reading about Attachment Parenting at the end of summer when we were out and about at different events that involve crowds of people.  I find one of the most frustrating things in a crowd of people is a stroller.  And, I'm sure that just being a pedestrian next to or behind a stroller in a crowd is not nearly as frustrating as being the one pushing a stroller through a crowd.  Walking through The Ex in Toronto to get to the food pavilion and back to the Virgin Festival was enough for me to declare I would never use a stroller to move one child from place to place, ever.  I think I would physically hurt people if I tried; or at least be incredibly rude to them.

I will say that when we started really researching Attachment Parenting, we were still planning on using a stroller, a removable carrier-car seat, a crib, bottles... But, our research really converted us.  We realized that all the tenants of AP really made sense to us and spoke to our hearts.  Essentially, Attachment Parenting simply acknowledges that this little baby is a person with needs.  Just like any other person, the baby is the best expert on what it needs- not a book or a relative or a generalized set of rules.  As a parent, if you pay attention to your baby it will tell you how to meet its needs using a variety of individual signs and signals.  So, the goal is to get "in tune" with your baby to understand how it communicates and then be able to meet his needs before he gets upset and has to cry to get help.

Babies are not inherently manipulative, but they are quick learners.  We teach babies that crying is how they get our attention to meet their needs. So, they learn to cry or at least to make the sounds immediately- it becomes part of their communication. Later in life, it translates into whining/crying for things that they want because children don't understand the difference between a want and a need.  I'm not a child psychologist, but it totally makes sense to me.  I have heard enough fake crying in the grocery store to say the theory has plenty of merit to my mind.  Plus, I think ideas like "the baby needs to learn to comfort/calm himself" or "let the baby cry it out" are so against the instincts of a parent.

So we agreed to be Attachment parents and we both read Attachment Parenting by Granju and Kennedy.  From the tenants of AP, Elimination Communication was an easy addition to our theorized parenting lifestyle.  EC says the same things about infant communication, just relates it to using the bathroom.  A baby has an inherent awareness of their need to go to the bathroom and a desire to not soil themselves.  We train the awareness and desire out of them by making them go to the bathroom in incredibly absorbent materials which always feel dry.  We have to potty-train kids twice: the first time to go in their diaper and the second to go in the toilet.  EC just skips the first type of potty training, and even though you're training infants who can't say they have to pee or poop with words, they do communicate it- it's one of their needs.  We learned about EC from The Diaper Free Baby by Gross-Loh.

We dove into researching more throughly the different parts of our new-found parenting style and we learned that a natural birth would help us get started with everything in the right direction.  I never thought about how the drugs that are used to make a mother feel more comfortable in labour get into the baby's system too.  So I'm spending months taking vitamins and eating good things, working hard to keep my body as healthy as I can because of this little life inside it.  And then, right before the baby has to make a HUGE transition into an unknown world, I numb its nervous system? mess with its muscle control? cloud up the baby brain? because I am in pain and uncomfortable?

The drugged-up baby doesn't breast feed as well, doesn't bond as well.  The baby's body systems are not fully developed enough to quickly remove the drugs so their effects last much longer than they do on the Mother.  We figured it would be better to just prepare for a natural birth.  We would have loved to do a home birth, but the midwife here in Denmark doesn't know us well and doesn't have time to figure out if we're prepared for it.

So that's how we got to be "hippie" parents.  We picked a parenting style that was convenient for us, it just happens to not be using any of the normal Western society ideas of convenient.  I think the best thing about the parenting method we've chosen, and the books we have read, is that they all highlight how important it is to not take it all too seriously.  Be flexible, fit what you can into a day and forget about the rest.  Just because you're baby cries doesn't mean you're not doing your best at Attachment Parenting.  When you miss a pee/poop, or decide to put your baby in a diaper for the day; you aren't ruining all the work you have done at Elimination Communication.  Every single book we've read says "take the theories here and apply them how you want- you make the expectations and then you meet them."  There is no right way.  Even the Breastfeeding Guide told me to chill out.  It's all the opposite of what the New York Magazine articles describe as reality for parents.

I can't say whether being a parent is going to make me think I'm happier than I am (it's possible, love does that to you, ya know).  But, I know I am not going to waste time and energy beating myself up over society's expectations of how we should or shouldn't raise our children.  I am so tired of all the skepticism that we get when we talk about our plans, but that doesn't mean I'm going to cave in and go buy a stroller so people leave me alone.  Live and let live- life is what it is.  I have goals, but not expectations.  And, I definitely won't be beating myself over having a totally different idea of "how to parent" when I actually become one.


I am coming to the end of this whole being pregnant thing.  It will all have happened in just over a year since we found out we were pregnant the first time.  I'm reflecting now because I know this baby may not wait the four weeks it has left inside to come out.  I keep telling baby to be late, but not too late, for my own selfish reasons.

For a while I struggled  with the idea of having children because I thought it was selfish.  I have yet to to come up with a legit reason to bring another human being in to this world that isn't based on some sort of selfish motivation on our part- even though I know parenting is one of the most selfless things I'll ever do.  The baby inside me is our emotional reaction to a miscarriage; and that first pregnancy was a total surprise.  But, we were planning by that point on making babies, so I had reconciled myself with the selfish motivations.  I do want offspring, I want to have the security of people around to care for me and look out for my interests when I no longer can.  I want to see what my genes will look like mixed with my husband's.  I want to see how my theories on parenting actually stack up in reality- no one takes you totally seriously when you talk about "how to raise children" until you have empirical evidence.  The concept and resulting conception come because of a series of "I want..." statements, but the actual person that is created won't (I hope!).

The funny thing about this "year of pregnancy" is that our lives really haven't revolved around pregnancy that much.  The main focus of the past year has definitely been Marc's choices related to the fact that he wants to be the Provider.  The first pregnancy kind of shocked him out of complacent dislike for the career path he was on; into action to find another path he could imagine involving himself in for the rest of his working life.  The only thing I asked of him is that he find something that will make him happy.  We relocated to Denmark for the new job!  And I think switching to the European work environment alone will be a huge help for Marc's happiness.  The other day we were invited over to a barbecue by people from our new church.  Our new Danish friends were warning Marc to really stick to the required hours when he starts working, especially with the new baby, because sometimes people work 40-45 hours a week! and you don't want to get into that habit especially because you don't get paid for the extra time you spend.  I didn't laugh out loud because they were truly concerned, but its just such an example of the difference between here and North America (where people would be saying "don't work 60 hours" if anything).  A difference that is going to increase Marc's quality of life so much more... I hope.

The best thing I did during pregnancy, by far, was go on a cruise right at the beginning of the second trimester.  My baby-sick was really getting to me at that point and I didn't know when it would be over.  The only true thing I knew how to do to combat it was to eat good food constantly; lots of protein and complex sugars and the bigger the breakfast the better.  But when I'm feeling sick, I'm much more inclined to sleep then to make food for myself (I'll blame the narcolepsy for that).  It was just so nice to have a few days where I didn't have to worry about the production of meals or whereto find food, I could just worry about eating.  So a cruise during pregnancy is a must for me; and if I ever do this whole "body snatchers" thing again, I'm going on another one...or two... and maybe not getting off the boat in ports next time.

I am coming around to understanding how women do have more than one baby.  I'm looking forward to my labour in a lot of ways.  My husband and I have had to prepare for our natural birth with books and The Pink Kit; we never had the time to take any instructed classes.  Not that Toronto offered very much for natural birth outside hypno-birthing, which was not what we wanted to do. Denmark's system seems much more open to the natural birth process.  The midwives here are recognized medical professionals who handle all things birth related unless there are complications or the mother wants to work solely with a doctor.  But the midwife here in Brande still said to me "you might end up wanting an epidural" when I told her I wanted to do a drug-free birth.  I am so tired of hearing that, but that's a whole other post.  I've pretty much forgotten how miserable I was in the first half of my pregnancy, and in the course of it Marc and I figured out how to manage things so that next time (because there will probably be one) I may be able to suffer less.  

These days I have crazy heartburn and too many stretch marks.  Marc laughs at how round I am, especially when I sit- he thinks it is cute.  He asked me the other day if he could call me "roley-poley" and I told him he was going to give me a complex.  It's all in jest and fun.  I am much bigger than I realize.  In my head I don't picture myself with such a huge belly for some reason, so I get surprised when I see my reflection.  But, I wouldn't call myself huge- especially for being at the end.  I have tried not to waddle as I walk and, in the past few days, my efforts have become unsuccessful.  My hip joints are softening, especially the tissue around my sacrum, so I'm loving the yoga stretches I have learned and the massage techniques The Pink Kit has taught my husband.  I'm really appreciating the Internal Work from TPK as well; it feels good and seems like it is going to be incredibly helpful.

Today our shipment from Canada arrives so I will actually be able to nest for real.  I have made an EC baby outfit from scratch, no pattern, just ideas off the internet.  My soft crib is getting its finishing touches, but it's totally functional.  Once we unpack the big computer I'll be able to post photos of all the projects, and by then  I'm hoping there will be more done, but the nest might be a bit time consuming.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...