A few days ago, I got to be in a little of heaven on earth. I got to go listen to an anthropologist genius and crusader, Dr. James McKenna. It was like sitting in the sun soaking in all of it’s energy and goodness.
Now a little background….
When my daughter was born 9 years ago, my husband and I didn’t really talk about what kind of parents we’d be. We didn’t even realize there was such a thing as “parenting styles”. I think the most we discussed of what we would do and not do is spanking. We mutually agreed we’d not hit our daughter in any way. More than that, we didn’t know what to discuss…I mean having a baby was going to just flow and be easy right?
Well, ofcourse like many new parents we quickly learned that while having a baby was the absolute best thing we’ve ever done, it was also one of the hardest jobs we’ve ever done as well. And the more parents we met, the more we realized we were parenting differently than most (aka than mainstream). Yes we had prepared this beautiful new nursery for her and bought her a crib, a swing, a bouncy seat all before she was born, but we instinctively felt that the crib in the other room was too far away from us. And because I also had bought a baby carrier before she was born, I also instinctively felt that she was better on me than in a stroller. And so we went with our instincts most of the time. And the times that we didn’t were actually the harder times for us, like when we thought we should be able to put her down for sleep because went to bed earlier than we did and she would instead wake up each time when she realized I was gone. Or another time is when we put her in the swing during dinner only to find that going back and forth to the swing to soothe her was harder than just wearing her through dinner.
Ironically we found that despite the baby gear we had at home and the advice we had received from others, the more we had her on us, the happier she was.
And we went with that. It just made sense that this little one having being in my womb 9 mos, would want to naturally be on me after birth as well. Why should it be differently?
Soon after the first few months, I sought out resources for us because we didn’t have friends that were doing things like we were. And I found that there was such a thing as “attachment parenting” and I found that there were studies showing exactly what we were seeing as new parents – that babies need to be close to mama. And in this I found Dr. James McKenna.
Dr McKenna is the truly the world’s leading authority in mother-baby sleep research. He currently leads the Mother-Baby Sleep Lab at the University of Notre Dame. His experience goes back to late 1970s when after his baby boy was born, he began to study the behavior and physiology of babies and mothers sleeping together and apart. He has won numerous awards for his work and has made strides in the education of infant sleep. And it was this amazing person that I got to listen to in person a few days ago. Can you just imagine how amazing this was for me?
It felt like going full circle on a wheel that started 9 years ago for me.
And listening to him was so validating. I found myself nodding my head over and over, writing notes like a mad woman and my mind racing to think of ways to share this knowledge in my local community.
Now three more kids later, this is truly what it’s all about for me – sharing what I can with the local community of mothers so that they too can get that support they need in mothering and listening to their babies. I find myself now thinking of ways to bring that “utopia!” knowledge to mothers around me so that together we can change the way we view our babies in order to accept and EMBRACE their needs as a wonderful and brilliant design and not as a thing to change.