Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Quick Getaway With Baby and He Left Her Speechless

I hope you all had a Happy Mother's Day. I did, complete with s surprise breakfast in bed served by my sweet husband. He even scooped my eight month old baby out of our family bed at 7:30 AM when baby woke up. Then he went to fix the breakfast, and I was left to joyfully sleep in with no baby noises, the only day so far of this baby's life when I have been able to sleep in past my baby's wake time. That was the most luscious Mother's Day gift of all.
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So much happened in my life last week that I am still processing it all. We had a marriage retreat, our first night of leaving our oldest in charge overnight, then we we went on a walking tour of SLC with some friends, and then my firstborn went on his first date to go ballroom dancing. Wow! Then it was Mother's Day, with all of the emotion that accompanies that day.

It occurred to me that I haven't said much about AP (Attachment Parenting) since I started this blog, even though I mention it in the banner. I guess that's because after having seven babies, it comes very naturally to me and it just seems like the default, de facto way of life. Some would say it ties a mother down even more than normal mothering does. I say it liberates a mom because it gives her peace of mind in her parenting, knowing she is giving her baby the best start possible. It also liberates a baby to rise up to her full potential because it meets all of the baby's needs in the most physically and emotionally intimate way possible.

The Baby Book: Everything You Need to Know About Your Baby from  Birth to Age Two (Revised and Updated Edition)

I first heard about AP when I was pregnant with number one and was working at the U of U med school. I stumbled across the book that first laid out AP, The Baby Book, by Dr. and Mrs. Bill Sears, at the U of U bookstore. I consider it providential that it was first published the year I had my first baby in 1993. I bought the book and brought it home and announced to my husband that I really liked this philosophy of parenting and wanted to do it. He read about it and liked it and we have been baby bedding together, babywearing, and baby bonding ever since. He even bought our first baby sling. If you don't know about AP, click here http://askdrsears.com/html/10/t130300.asp

Since then I have been able to hear Dr. Bill and Martha speak a few times in person at LLLI conferences (see llli.org) and have become enamored with them even more. Martha is even an LLL Leader, like I am, so that just makes her feel like family to me. I even got so close to Dr. Bill that I could have gone up to him and spoken to him like a fawning groupie but suddenly my shyness took over and I just didn't want to. My shyness didn't overtake me with Martha however on a separate occasion and I asked her a question. She was so friendly, she even gave me her phone number so I could call her and ask more questions!

AP just seems so natural to me. It's a no-brainer, the way babies and parents are supposed to live harmoniously together, with the least amount of tears, fear, and anxiety. My LDS faith (lds.org) with its belief in eternal families gives me the "why" for attachment. We can't have a fulfillment of happiness, heaven, or even love, unless we are eternally sealed to our husband and our children, as well as to the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. AP gives me the nuts-and-bolts, "how-to" of family attachment in the real, everyday world. Physical attachment with my babies facilitates and precedes emotional and eternal attachment as they mature. At one of these LLL conferences I heard someone quote an old Jewish proverb, "If you get up with your children when they are young, they won't be getting you up when they are old," meaning, respond to your babies' cries when they are little, and chances are that they won't be causing you to get out of bed when they are teenagers. Of course, free agency is always at work and I do know some families who practice AP who still have wayward children but the risk of that happening goes down. At least these parents have peace of mind knowing they did what they could for their children when they were young by practicing AP.

Some people say that AP takes too much time and makes the baby spoiled and manipulative. I disagree. It is an investment in happy, mature, peaceful children. I don't have time to go into all the tangents that AP can get me off on, like gentle discipline and no circumcision. But I found a great blog, drmomma.org, that pretty much sums up my views. Yes, you can still have obedient children, a life outside of children, a passionate marriage, and not go crazy if you practice AP.

Whenever I read about suggestions to leave your baby for a marriage-building retreat, I cringe. You can just take your baby with you! Last Thursday I got to have a quick overnight getaway with my husband. We left everyone home but the baby. I don't even like reading that you have to leave your baby to go on evening dates with your husband. I do remember a line from Sheila Kippley in her eco bfg book that suggests you take the baby with you and that's what I do. At one of the first LLL meetings I went to I heard from a veteran mom (this was when I only had two kids) that as long as you leave the big kids home, it feels like a date, even if you bring the baby. I totally agree. Ever since then I have been bringing the baby with me on dates and overnighters. Once they start walking then I leave them home.

We used to leave our oldest home all the time when he was a baby to do dates and business meetings and I regret that. It would have saved a lot of stress on me to just stay home with him or bring him with us. Despite all the separation I did maintain my breastfeeding relationship with him until he was a year old, by pumping and leaving him a bottle. When I see moms leaving their babies for overnighters or days at a time, I feel sad. Forget about saving the earth, save the breastfeeding you have going with your baby. I've since repented and now take my baby with me or stay home.



Every year my husband gets two free nights of a hotel stay to go participate in a conference for his work as a parental public defender attorney. Out of something like seven years since he's been doing this, this was only my second time to go with him. It's a great free marriage-building retreat so I would love to do it every year. Last time it was at the Homestead when I went (fiver years ago) and this year it was at the Zermatt. Usually I am too busy with carpooling duty or momschool teaching to go. But this year we figured out how to sandwich my escape between chauffeuring my oldest child to his leadership education econ class and his speech and debate class the next day.

We had such a delightful time away! We had some great conversation and watched the movie Fireproof. Lately my baby has been crying a lot in his car seat on car trips, which is so nervewracking for an AP mom. I got the brilliant idea to stop and buy a teething biscuit after I dropped my scholar son off in Bountiful and that was just the ticket to a blissful baby car ride. (Blissful baby = sleeping baby = happy mommy who can listen to de Tocqueville wax philosophical about liberty of the press in Democracy in America as I drive through Parley's Canyon). So I got to Midway with no screaming. We took a walk in this freezing cold Utah sprinter (spring + winter) to the Homestead across the street. We went through the tunnel to this hollow crater on the Homestead property that has a hot spring where people can scuba dive. Then we went shopping to buy our dinner. On the way back to the hotel I nursed baby with him still buckled in his car seat.

He fell asleep on this ride home. Hooray! It was 8 PM. Now we could have some time alone without tending to any children at all. He stayed asleep the rest of the night. (He did wake up to nurse a few times in the hotel bed but then went back to sleep so I still count that as "sleeping through the night." Yes, you can cosleep or bedshare and still have a baby who sleeps for decent chunks of time and doesn't "nurse all night long." More on that another time.) We had a lovely visit talking about almost nothing that relates to our shared household, our children, or homeschooling, as we dined. I didn't even feel guilty that I was missing the end of year meeting for the north Davis county commonwealth school that my two scholar phasers attend. We did talk about who we thought would be elected to next year's board for the school. Then we watched Fireproof, a movie on DVD starring Kirk Cameron, which we hadn't seen yet even though it's ages old.

Fireproof

Yes, I pretty much live in a cave when it comes to movies. I just shun most of what the Hollywood conveyor belt churns out, because it's mostly garbage. But Fireproof doesn't come from the typical Hollywood studio. It's made by the people who did Facing the Giants. See fireproofthemovie.com. If you haven't ever watched Fireproof, do it for your next date night. It is a fabulous movie and totally clean! Not only that, it's based on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and strengthens marriage by encouraging people to turn their marriages over to Christ. Every married couple should watch it and discuss. (I thought the acting was great but missed reliving the glory days of late 1980s primetime TV with Kirk Cameron since my husband is a baby boomer and barely remembers Happy Days. )

My husband told me a story that put a smile on my face. He left a lady speechless with something he said. At the same his conference was going, so was another. It was for some association of perinatal social workers. So in the vendor display area there were booths and tables for vendors selling things for babies and those who are social workers for babies. One of the booths was for Abbott Labs, one of the main ABM makers. (ABM = artificial baby milk, or SIN, synthetic infant nutrition). My husband said, "You know, my wife is a La Leche League Leader, so babies and nursing and breastmilk are very prominent in my home."

One of the vendors for Abbott Labs smiled and said, "Oh yes. We here at Abbott Labs are very much in favor of breastmilk. We promote it all the time." (Yeah, right....as long as they have their foot in the door, or their pricey can of ABM in your "free" hospital diaper bag, offering it "just in case breastfeeding doesn't work," and then they get you dependent on it. See banthebags.org) To which my husband deftly replied, "Oh, well, my wife would slash your adversting in a heartbeat because it violates the WHO Code of Marketing Breastmilk Substitutes." The vendor opened her mouth but nothing would come out, and her sales partner next to her patted her arm and said, "He's got you there. Don't even bother going down that path. " My husband told me the story and it got me thinking about the WHO Code. I have become less in favor of the UN and government regulation in general lately since reading Richard Maybury. I am going to have to ask my LLL Leader friend who is also a John Bircher how she reconciles the two.

I could just picture myself angrily tearing down their posters and throwing their cans in the garbage. Not my style! My dear husband sometimes translates my zealous opinions into militant action. I'm generally not that assertive. Just for the record, you can be an AP mom and use ABM, even Dr. Sears says so, although it does take conscientiousness to be an AP bottlefeeder. ABM does have its place, especially for babies who simply have no access to a mom or a milk bank, like these poor babies helped by perinatal social workers probably. But I agree with Dr. Jack Newman, a medical doctor who specializes in breastfeeding (drjacknewman.com), that ABM should be treated like a drug that requires a prescription. It has risks to both baby's and mother's health and side-effects. Breastmilk from the mother while nursing, then pumped milk from the mom, then pumped milk from other moms, then ABM is the hierarchy I follow. Wouldn't it have been cool if there had been a booth at this perinatal conference for a mothers' milk bank, LLL, or the people at asklenore.com who help adoptive moms with breastfeeding?

The next morning I got to go to breakfast with my husband as part of his conference. Lo and behold, who should we end up sitting with but Joyce Kinmont, one of the speakers from my conference last year, homeschooling mom guru and founder of ldshea.org. She volunteers her time helping parents who are fighting DCFS and likes to go to conferences like this. One of the guys who shares office space with my husband, Don Redd, was also there. Don's wife Karen was there at the breakfast table as well, and she is one of my heroines. Here is a woman who has borne 15 children, yes 15!, and looks not only perfectly normal to be a mother to so many and a grandma too, but still beautiful as well. She just retired from singing in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. I look at her and what she is doing in her phase of mothering now that her youngest is 12 or so and it reminds me that there is a season for moms to develop their talents with more focus than in interrupted blocks of time.

The breakfast table discussion fascinated me. It was attorneys mostly talking, along with Joyce and two of the wives. They were basically saying that the state system that professes to protect families actually breaks them up. So then the talk went to, well, it's not just that the system is messed up, it's the culture of today with the broken families. One attorney there said that families are going down the tubes, especially since moms are no longer home all day. He said that moms don't even have to eat breakfast with their children, they can just send them to school for free breakfast. Then they have free lunch, and then at night (I thought to myself), a lot of kids don't eat dinner with their family either. The forage for their own dinner of cold cereal or microwave food and eat in front of the TV. It's sad when women outsource the feeding of their children, starting with ABM and then as they grow older turning it over to others constantly. If you want some inspiration, go to thefoodnanny.net.

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