Sidney’s Rules

2 05 2011

Attachment Parenting is a philosophy that principles the need for a parent to be
emotionally available and form a strong emotional bond with his/her child in
order for that child to form a secure attachment and to foster his or her
socio-emotional development and well-being.[i]

I wake up many mornings whispering an exasperated god help
me. This morning is no different. Sidney had been circling around me for almost
an hour like a cat trying to find the best spot in the sun. I can feel her raw
gums grinding against each other as she rests her head on my lap. She gives me
an occasional raspberry on my exposed stomach. I try to fight the losing battle
of early awakening by a dose of Colic Calm, soothing back rubs, endless nursing
and by playing dead. It is now 5am. We sleep together, Sidney and me. Just us
two in the guest room on the firmer mattress with guardrails that she finds
fascinating tools to use as a handrail for standing. (I observe all safety
concerns and never leave her out of my sight while she is on the bed.) We did
sleep as a family once upon a time. My husband, two of our cats, and us, but
that was when Sidney slept on my stomach and didn’t crawl around. Now she is
eight months old and sleeping life is different.

People think I’m utterly bonkers. Or they just don’t
understand. “You’re spoiling her rotten!” they say. Sidney and I slept at my
Dad’s house a month ago when toxic fumes from a plumbing stoppage (the fault of
which bears my name) forced us out of our cozy house. My Dad asked, “Do you
want to use the crib in the spare room and sleep in the other guest room?” I
replied, “No, that’s OK, we sleep together.” To which he replied, “Oh, you’re
bringing your own crib?” Sigh, “No Dad, we sleep together in the same bed.”
Well, our talk circled around and around for some time before my intelligent,
witty, curmudgeon of a father understood that Sidney sleeps next to me, in the
same bed, tucked safely next to my body with its supernatural motherly
instincts. The little hairs on my arms are like cat whiskers; I sense where she
is in relation to me at all times. Even my goose pimples can tell which
direction she lies in when there is a breeze about.

This co-sleeping arrangement was pre-determined, to an
extent. I read about co-sleeping and its benefits, especially to breastfeeding
mothers. But I wanted her next to me in a separate sleeping bed, not physically
touching me at all times. After all, Sassy, my poor fur-princess had been
ousted from my lap for several months when sleeping on my back wasn’t an option
anymore.

To be economical, I decided Sidney’s full-size crib would
pull up right next to the bed with plenty of room. And it does. It just has
never been used for more than 20 minutes at a time.

And then there is the issue of safety. I was terrified
reading articles and hearing from nurses that my husband would roll over onto
my child and kill, or seriously injure her. I knew I wouldn’t, although you
still hear fears from outsiders that the mother might roll over onto her child.
I’ve had one cat or another sleeping on my lap for most of my 33 years on this
earth. If I haven’t rolled over onto my cats, I certainly won’t roll over onto
my child. In all fairness, I was concerned about my husband. He doesn’t have
the supernatural motherly instincts that I possess, which is one of the reasons
we’re now in the guestroom.

Despite my thoughts on co-sleeping, Sidney certainly had
other sleeping plans after birth. Sleeping in a large, scary crib was far too
overwhelming to her. How naïve was I? What baby wants to sleep by itself after
being in a dark, cozy, warm womb for nine months? Out of sheer desperation and
a desire to get more than 30 minutes of shut-eye at a time, I gingerly placed
Sidney on me, stomach to stomach, after each feeding. When she was a bit bigger
and we got the hang of side nursing, she would occasionally conk out on her
back after her arm flailed down toward the bed like an anchor, pulled down by
the elusive sleep gods.

On a good night, Sidney nurses herself to sleep. She wakes up
every two or three hours, nurses for five to ten minutes and then succumbs
again to the sleep gods. Surprisingly, I survive pretty well on this schedule.
But once or twice a week she throws me the dreaded curveball. Gas or teething
is usually the culprit.

Hence this morning’s early awakening. I couldn’t tell you
with certainty what the exact cause was. Teething can lead to stomach upset
from the overproduction of saliva and last night’s dinner of banana and mangoes
with brown rice could have made her gassy; likely a combination. Either way,
I’m pretty tired but thankfully good food perks me up, especially fair-trade
dark chocolate from a local chocolatier. After all, I have to keep up my
caloric intake to keep producing all that milk!

You may be wondering why on earth I go to such lengths, or
for those of you who believe she is spoiled, wonder why I don’t just sleep
train her and gain back my pre-baby life, to the extent possible. I don’t nor
do I care to because I firmly believe that listening to my baby’s needs and
following her lead – for now- is the best form of parenting that I can provide
for her. Call it motherly instincts; call it spoiling; call me crazy, but I
won’t change my mind. And please remember that she is only eight months old!

The reason I’ve started this blog is twofold. First, I need
a creative outlet. I love being a mom and I love Sidney more than life itself
(thank you Elton John for these beautifully sung words), but I need to express
my thoughts and feelings in order to process and learn from my actions. The
state of chronic sleep deprivation sometimes leaves my mind boggled and
confused, so in having this creative outlet, I hope to recover some of my
mental faculties. Second, I want to connect with other like-minded mothers and fathers
who find attachment parenting to joyous, but also challenging.

I hope you will join me on my journey and leave positive
comments. I’m here to inspire people who want to be inspired and hope to meet and
be inspired by others. Peace.


[i]
Definition rephrased from my interpretation of information provided by Dr.
William Sears on his website, www.askdrsears.com and the definition of attachment parenting listed on Wikipedia. May 2, 2011.