Thursday, October 25, 2012

Not Just For Hipsters

Something strange is happening to me.  Oliver’s arrival has changed something fundamental about who I am as a person.  Remember, I am the mother who blogged about how I couldn’t stand to even sleep in the same room as Emmalee.  I am the mother who resorted to cry it out methods when she was 9 months old.  I am the mother who ignorantly began forward facing my baby when she was 6 months old.  I am a loving mother, I mean well, but I definitely have some room to grow in the nurturing department.  Now though, everything has changed.  I barely recognize the person looking back at me in the mirror.

First piece of evidence: as I type this, Oliver is strapped to my chest sleeping soundly.  I am baby wearing.  Baby wearing!  And the weirdest part, I am truly enjoying it.  There is something absolutely perfect about listening to his little breaths and feeling his warm little body against mine while I go about my daily business.  It feels so right.  I find myself deeply regretting that I never did this with Emmalee.  I used to feel so secure in the bond I shared with her, but now I’m worried that there will always be a wedge between us because I didn’t wear her as an infant.  I’m not even being sarcastic.  This is a real concern for me.

Second piece of evidence: I spent an afternoon this week rearranging my bedroom furniture to create an optimal co-sleeping environment.  Not only am I sleeping in the same room as Oliver, but the bed is now pushed flush with the wall so that he can safely sleep in my bed with me.  Emmalee was kicked out of my room and into her own at 8 weeks old, and I went to great lengths to keep her there, which is another thing I deeply regret.  If I could go back in time knowing what I know now, Emmalee would have had a very different infant experience.  To be fair, though, Oliver is a very different baby than Emmalee was.  The only way he will consistently sleep through the night is if he is in bed next to me.  At this point in my life, I am just so frickin’ tired.  Sleep is the ultimate goal; having children in my bed until they’re teenagers is a potential side effect I’ll deal with later.  Also, all my efforts with Emmalee were for naught, as she wakes up and comes to sleep the remainder of the night in my bed just about every night now anyway.  I guess I’m not sure if I’ve grown as a mother or if the kids have just broken my spirit, but either way, we are now a bed sharing family.

I’ve spent some time recently researching these new aspects of my life, baby wearing and bed sharing.  I’m choosing to believe the things I read that support my decisions as being wonderful affirmations of love for my children, particularly Oliver as it may be too late for Emmalee.  Just as I’ve always feared, it seems as though I have failed her.  Apparently, according to actual scientific research, a baby simply works better when close to its mother.   The baby’s breathing, temperature, and heart rate are more regular and the baby’s immune system is actually strengthened, all just by being in the mother’s presence.  It’s a bit humbling to think that I have so much influence over Oliver’s autonomic nervous system.  In addition, carrying a baby in the upright position obtained by proper baby wearing (there are do’s and don’ts, so do your research before giving it a try) is good for the baby’s physical development and promotes healthy digestion.  Not to mention, both baby wearing and co-sleeping promote attachment.  Securely attached children have higher self-esteem, less anxiety, and actually become independent quicker, which debunks the whole “spoiling” stigma of baby wearing and co-sleeping.  I’ve included links at the bottom if you are interested in learning more, or are wondering where my information comes from.

Recently, I have been teased that I am turning into a “hipster.”  After Googling this term, I found that the notion was preposterous.  I would not consider myself part of any “subculture movement.”  I am not vegan.  I do not buy organic.  I don’t even breastfeed.  I am a regular, everyday mom.  I work.  I use disposable diapers.  I buy clothes almost exclusively at Target and Gymboree.  The staples of Emmalee’s diet are Pop Tarts and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  I listen to Top 40 Country radio.  And now I baby wear and bed share.  These are things that mothers around the world have been doing for thousands of years.  It has only been in relatively recent history that they have been demoted to subculture practices in America, forcing well intentioned mothers to either hide or risk being labeled a hipster.  Well, I say no more.  These are healthy, sanity saving practices.  Mainstream culture needs to take them back.  I’ll be the first to declare it proudly.  Baby wearing and bed sharing: not just for hipsters anymore.


Baby wearing: