Sunday, February 26, 2012

I'm a natural parent, but...it took me awhile

Welcome to the "I'm a Natural Parent - BUT..." Carnival

This post was written for inclusion in the carnival hosted by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. During this carnival our participants have focused on the many different forms and shapes Natural Parenting can take in our community.

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I knew I wanted to breastfeed. That was about the extent of my "natural parenting" when I first became a mom. I didn't even know what natural parenting was at the time. Breastfeeding was the gateway to more natural parenting for me, but it would take awhile before I really caught on.

When I was pregnant for the first time, I chose an obstetrician affiliated with a large, Boston teaching hospital. I thought: "We have some of the finest hospitals in the world! I would be a fool to birth my baby anywhere else!" At the "meet the doctors" event just prior to giving birth, *I* was the one who asked how quickly I could get an epidural once admitted. Needless to say, my first birth was highly medicalized. Fortunately, I was able to endure a few early weeks of wondering if I would really be able to breastfeed successfully. At eight weeks, I ignored my pediatrician's advice about "self-soothing babies" and brought my baby girl to sleep with me in my bed. Ahhhh.

A few months went by, I stumbled upon Dr. Sears and Attachment Parenting, and realized that it fit with my current parenting practices, like on-demand breastfeeding, co-sleeping, responsive parenting, and babywearing. Still, I was a long way from fully recognizing and appreciating what Natural Parenting meant. I fed my baby Gerber (not even organic! gasp!) and never thought twice about it. She was fully vaccinated and I never blinked an eye. She watched a lot of television while wearing her Pampers. She had lots of plastic, commercialized toys and apparel. Yep, I was a long way from truly appreciating Natural Parenting.

Not surprisingly, I returned to the same obstetrician for my second pregnancy and had another highly-medicalized birth. I continued all of my Attachment Parenting practices from the start with my baby boy and felt very strongly that he would not be circumcised. When he was four-months-old, I switched to all cloth diapers, and eventually started making my own baby food. Ok, I was getting there...

A few months later, when all of my two-year-old's friends were heading off to various preschools here in the city, (yes, preschool typically starts at age two here), I began researching homeschooling more seriously and became instantly hooked. Closer....

Then I had my third baby, my homebirth baby, and, finally, I understood the power and pleasure of living and parenting naturally. I began to fully question "expert" advice and generally accepted actions. I adopted "greener," more sustainable homemaking practices. I began making meals from scratch and buying local, organic food. I switched our doctors and focused more intently on natural family health and well-being. I started knitting.

I still have further to go, still much, much more to learn and do, along the Natural Parenting continuum. But I'm getting there. Gratefully, I'm getting there.

Join the City Kids Homeschooling Facebook community!


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I'm a Natural Parent — But … Blog CarnivalThis carnival was created by The Artful Mama and Natural Parents Network. We recognize that "natural parenting" means different things to different families, and we are dedicated to providing a safe place for all families, regardless of where they are in their parenting journeys.

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

12 comments:

  1. that sounds like my exact journey haha. Seriously, I stumbled upon everything by accident afte rlistening to my own instincts. I still have never homebirthed though, I am in awe of mamas who have done it!

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  2. Ok, I had to chuckle at "I started knitting," because I am attempting to knit again. I do not, however, associate knitting with NP ;) Funny how some of this stuff creeps up on us, huh?

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  3. I think it's so important to have voices like yours in the NP community - often moms think if i didn't start out this way, it's hard to catch up, or I've "scarred" my children. Not so! I've been following your blog for awhile now (we're neighbors - I'm in WR/Boston =) and am so impressed with all you do! Thanks for sharing your journey. If we do this again in a year, it will be interesting to see how we continue to evolve!

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  4. Its a slippery slope. It is funny how each step seems like the logical progression. Most non-moms that think we are a little nutty don't realize that we didn't start out this crunchy!

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  5. I swear its like this too, you learn about one thing and it just starts affecting all aspects of your life. Its definitly a progression of things. Happened to us like that too!

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  6. It's such a crazy journey, isn't it? I stumbled across natural parenting so randomly after my daughter was born and it took several months to get fully 'into' it. In many ways I've become an entirely different person. And there will always be further to go...

    Thanks for sharing your experience Kerry! :)

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  7. What a great post Kerry! Your journey is relatable to me, and many more I'm sure.

    My mouth might have actually dropped when you said you had a homebirth for your third baby because "I didn't think you could do that!". As hard as I try to eliminate assumptions now, this reminded me of how far I have to go.

    My favorite line of this whole carnival was yours "I started knitting". For some reason, this sums it all up.

    Thanks so much for honestly sharing your journey. This mama appreciates it :)

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  8. It is a process, this getting back to basics. I think that most of us are combating our own programming from a vastly different parenting approach and it is a learning curve adopting a more compassionate and supportive way of being with our children. The effort we make however will be that much less for our own children to tackle when they become parents themselves.

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  9. I love this!! My path is so similar. My first was born in one of the top five hospitals in the country. My second, with a midwife, at a smaller, regional hospital. My third, a homebirth, and there's no turning back!! I cloth diapered from the start, but persistently put my first baby in her own crib, in her own room, listening to generations of advice that went against my gut, but still... My second slept in our bed for over a year, and our third is still there. We followed a similar toy path, I imagine. All this to say that this post makes me smile and feel so much like a part of a community. You know you've found your parenting groove when it all feels right—despite the fact that your arm is numb from a baby sleeping on it all night! LOL

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  10. This carnival has been so much fun to be a part of! I have been especially delighted to hear that many mamas out there have taken a similar path as mine to natural parenting....slow to start and then full-speed ahead!

    -Kerry

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  11. Life is a journey! Beautiful descriptions. =)

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  12. It reminded me of my first baby and how much I struggled before I finally ignored the professional advice on sleep and turned to my instincts. We don't know the first time around, do we? All these professionals seem so well-informed and who are we to think we know more? I'm so glad that you managed to regain your power as a natural mum.

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