Does this Baby Sling Make Me Look Fat? November 10 2010
The Wall Street Journal has an interesting essay and blog post that came out this past weekend on the Madness of Modern Motherhood -- a critical view of the phenomenon of mothers who spend every moment attached to their child. They breastfeed, sleep with them, wear them in slings, cover their tushes in cloth diapers, make homemade baby food and totally attune their own schedules to fit baby's needs. This is heralded by "The Baby Book" by William and Martha Sears, which I haven't read because, well, I'd rather read fiction than baby books. There, I said it.
So anyway, attached parenting? Yeah, that's not me, for the most part.
Reading this took me back to the beginning of it all, and I remember there was a point when the baby K was in the NICU (neo-natal intensive care unit) a few days after she was born and the lactation nurses came by for the third or fourth time to check in with me to make sure all systems were a go, that my "supply" had come in (Waiting for Spindletop? YES, it was waaaaay more painful than squeezing out a child). I remember one of the lactation nurses telling me several times over the course of these days to take a "baby vacation" when I got home -- to take a full day, or two or three and just lie with my baby in bed. To pack a lunch, or have my husband do it for me, and stay in my bedroom right by my baby at all times. To bond. To do lots of skin-to-skin. To attach.
Oh, silly lacatation evangelicals.
I ended up in lacatation hell, and could barely even hold my baby, let alone breastfeed. This is something said evangelicals never mentioned and actually glossed over it when I asked about it. Not to get into all the gory details but let's just say mastitis, shooting pain, 103 fever, ER, trauma. For starters. There were other complications over the course of the first month. I kept at it, but after three months I was done.
I really, really hoped to breastfeed as long as I could. I read the pamphlets, scoured the internet and even took a class while I was pregnant. But it just didn't happen for me.
So much for attaching to baby. Well, I made up for it -- at least in my mind -- by making homemade baby food. Okay, really, I made most of the baby K's baby food because I got the most awesome gift at one of my baby showers -- a Beaba Babycook, which steams and purees baby food in one little contraption. I was obsessed with using it because I thought it was cool and it was so easy, so I ended up giving my child almost no canned baby food.
And just like Zack Galifianakis in the Hangover, I've also done my share of baby-wearing in a sling, Bjorn and backpack. Very slimming ;) But I didn't do it because I wanted to be attached to my baby. I just thought it was more comfortable than holding a baby in your tired arms. It's a space-saver on the Metro. And it makes things sooooo much easier when breaking down a stroller, taking off shoes and jacket and running a baby bag through security at an airport. My baby-wearing is more pragmatic than anything else.
The essay by Erica Jong in the WSJ takes a critical view of attached parenting, but I say if it works for you and if you feel you can do it all, fine. If you want to wear a sling and let your child sleep in their own crib in their own room, that'll work too.
It's a personal matter and sometimes just a matter of convenience. The reality is that with work, commuting, keeping up house, home and pets, and doing things for yourself like working out or waxing your upper lip (I ask for time for small, but important things, really), sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day to do it all and overthink it along the way. We just do.
It took me a while to figure this out, but I don't feel guilty about my choices. I do what I can, when I can. I do what feels right to me.
So, where do dads fit into all of this? I mean, the Bjorn works on a dad, but the sling is a bit weird, me thinks. In my house, we split up things pretty much down the middle.
And speaking of cool baby carriers, Babyhawk has one with calaveras print. Dia de Los Muertos every day!