Lena from Yoli + Otis shares her parenting magic...
Good Parenting doesn’t just happen. Of course your ‘parenting instincts’ kick in, but as I’m sure we’re all well aware, there are more than 101 parenting style debates, with passionate advocates dominating the front line of each and everyone of them. But for us, it was simple.. Whatever works. Part of making it work, was understanding why. Why she was unsettled, why she kept us awake, etc. etc. Cue hours and hours of research from midnight - 4am, half-asleep feeds in-between.
The first week was relatively easy, she was exhausted from the birth after leaving the womb (understandably) and spent hours on-end sleeping, which was lovely. However, she had her days and nights back-to-front.. A week went by and as she gained her strength, it was up all night and down all day. This is due to the fact that their sleep in the womb is induced by our movements, and at night when we’re dead still, she’s not being swayed to sleep and is kept awake for those solid however many hours (hence our inability to sleep peacefully, and without being kicked those last few months).
So after countless efforts to keep her awake during the day, (in an attempt to help her sleep during the night) we tried co-sleeping and it worked. She slept all night, only waking to feed. Feeling completely in-tune with her, I would wake instinctively before she did, it felt natural, the way mothering should feel. She rarely cried through the night, as I was always right there, ready to feed her on demand. I became quite the co-sleeping advocate. I found Dr Sears and his attachment parenting site, and realised I'd been inadvertently following his advice. I researched the effects on the brain from raised cortisol levels, caused by prolonged crying, and decided sacrificing my body and my bed was more than worth it for all the positive benefits it had for my child.
Babies can only ‘deep sleep’ (non-REM) in small amounts, they’re mostly light sleeping. This survival technique is designed to easily arouse their stimulus for hunger, as breast milk digests very rapidly and they only have tiny bellies and need to feed more frequently. So their ability to wake to it, is crucial. It’s important to prepare yourself for this, rather than create anxiety and disappointment when your baby is indignant on not sleeping and to remember, if a baby does something, it is because they are designed to. I knew the only way to embrace it was to keep her close to me. No matter what i was doing, I was holding her. Brushing my teeth, hanging the washing, filling the vege basket at the local market. She was being held. Of course, there are times when you just want to be at least 3 feet away from them, but for me, her sleeping on my chest whilst out walking, was just as rejuvenating. So that’s what we did. When I needed her to sleep, she slept and when she needed to be awake, I felt ready for it.
Baby wearing saved us.
You often hear qualms revolving around attachment parenting. They become "clingy” or “needy”, this is not at all what happened for us, quite the opposite in our case. They talk about breastfeeding’s ability to encourage a strong bond between mother and child, resulting in benefits associated with that bond. Attachment Parenting is essentially enhancing that bond and ultimately enhancing those same benefits, so it’s vital that bond is offered the opportunity, however and whenever possible.
As her limbs grew, so too, did her personality. And what a joy, an absolute wild flower. Her face looks like a sunflower wearing a bright smile with squinting eyes. She is fiercely independent, adamant on walking, running, kissing and hugging. If she wants to, she will, no inhibition. she has a mind of her own and it shines far beyond the clouds.
At 1 year, she was in her own bed, in her own room. On occasion she wakes in the night, and we bring her into bed with us.
Toasty warm and snuggly, half asleep, nestled between her two favourite heads, she puckers her lips for a kiss, and instantly she’s adrift.
There is nothing we regret about our parenting choice, having undoubtedly moulded her into the gentle and affectionate wee thing she is today. In fact, we look forward to discovering more and more of these beautiful traits, surfacing directly from natural parenting. It might not be the right choice for everyone, but for us, it was pure magic.
Love + light