Sometimes parenting is joyful. At times dreadful. Rarely quiet, at least in this house. Whether it be the joyful laughter of Cheeks discovering a new way to chase the cat, or her cries of frustration. There is noise. Until there isn’t. The moments leading up to “NightNight” in our house are slightly frantic. We search for the cream to put on her tush, the diaper we swear we put right beside us, the perfect Jammie’s. But all too soon she and I are in bed. She is nursing, staring at me. Sometimes mumbling. Other times unlatching to gleefully say MAMA! But always, after a few moments that sometimes stretch into an eternity her eyelids flutter. They close. Her breathing deepens. She sighs. My nipple falls from her mouth. I quietly scramble to get out of bed. Eager to enjoy some grown up time. Yet, the silence when I go downstairs is deafening. We find ourselves wishing she was playing in the other room, or wanting desperately to show us something. But our angel is silent. And somehow, that’s louder than her most frustrated cries. In that instant I miss her, just as if I had been away for days or months. I feel like I’m missing a piece of me. And I realize. I left my heart upstairs.
I read. I researched. I was a sponge for information while pregnant. And I still am, even now, eight months post partum. Despite all of my research, I still had this crazy idea…that my newborn baby would sleep in her own room, her own bed. Yeah. No. Didn’t happen. Obviously. And so our family bed was born. In the beginning, sex was the farthest thing from my mind. But four weeks after giving birth to my daughter my sex drive was back in full force. But our bed was no longer our own. It took me awhile to get back in the swing of things. Sex is a beautiful thing. It is difficult at times to switch off mommy mode, and go into sexy wife mode. For us we are impulsive. We are spontaneous. We have sex on the stairs. The couch. The floor. We also have sex in our bed. Once our daughter is zonked for the night, she is moved over to the farthest corner, and we have sex in our own bed. For us cosleeping has somewhat spiced up the relationship. We don’t use the bedroom exclusively for sex anymore. We have a bed. And that bed is for love. It is for sex. It is for sleep. We go to bed as a family. Wake up as a family and to me, that is a beautiful thing. Having children will make your life completely different. Ours is richer. Full of laughs. Full of love. It is important to retain your sense of individuality. Sex is a part of this. I am a mother. A wife. And sex is important to me. It is important to the connection I feel with my husband. I crave that physical attachment. It was an adjustment, a huge one. We committed to this parenting style. And with it comes challenges. But for us, we do not allow sex to be one of them.
I never mastered napping with my baby. Sleeping when the baby sleeps. Not until I was fully comfortable with the idea of a family bed. For us, cosleeping means that all three of us go to sleep, and wake up in the same bed. Something I swore I would never do. Cosleeping means on days like today, I hit the reset button. And go back to bed for three hours! I woke refreshed. Hattie woke up smiling. We stretch, and play for probably a half hour, until we have to get back to real life. Real life consists of piles upon piles of laundry. A not so tidy house. Dinner that needs to be made. My daughter is my partner in crime. We neglect the laundry in favor of cuddles. We sing Raffi at the top of our lungs. We use a water bottle as a toy. We play together, eat together, sleep together. My daughter is a part of me. She is my world. So I will neglect the laundry. I will nap for hours. I will read to her instead of doing dishes. We will listen to music. We will snuggle. Because these are the memories I will remember, and treasure for the rest of my life.
I suppose it’s time for me to introduce myself. I am a mother. I am a wife. I am an animal enthusiast. I get frustrated easily. Sometimes I need a time out. More often than not I wake up in the morning with one breast out. Courtesy of nighttime nursing. I am not perfect. Far from it in fact. I go days without a shower. I snap at my husband. I rarely get a good nights sleep. I have lost many friends. I have lost a family member or two. I am loud, obnoxiously so. I am all over the place. I have opinions that I am not afraid to share. I will bare my breast any time, anywhere to feed my child. I dare someone to say something, I have an arsenal of comebacks, just waiting to be used. I sing Raffi almost all day, just because it makes my daughter smile. I repeat myself at least twice, because somehow I think if I just say something enough times my four month old will understand. I think my daughter is the smartest, most beautiful person in the world. When I look at her I don’t know how I ever lived without her. I get overwhelmed. I am a chocoholic. I love sweets, a little more than I should. I love my family fiercely. I would do anything for them. My husband is my best friend. He annoys me more than anyone else. But I wouldn’t want anything or anyone else. I am an attachment parent. A gentle parent. I am an advocate for the family bed. I exclusively breastfeed. I wear my darling baby. I do not let her cry it out. I will let her wean herself, when she is ready. I do not judge other mother’s for their parenting decisions. Judging is not my place. I do not tolerate judgment from others. I am all for a good, respectful debate. I will stand up for my rights. For my daughter’s rights. I will teach her to empower herself. To help and respect others. I will love her unconditionally. I will teach her to treat others the way she wants to be treated. I am a crunchy mama. And I always will be.
You find out you’re pregnant. Hooray! Tears, joy, bliss. A variation of emotions run through your feeble mind. And then terror. So you research until your mind is bleeding from the facts. It’s leaking out of you. You research some more. You ask your doctor a million questions that they never fully answer. So you research more. So on and so forth. That special day comes. And along with that the most horrendous pain imaginable. You see your baby. The most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen. This is your baby. Best job ever, that’s what they say. You can’t wait to get started! You’ve done your research. You’re totally prepared. Ready. Yeah right. The first night flies by. You tell your partner, wow, how lucky are we? Our little one slept through the night. We had to wake the baby to feed her. The second night rolls around. Your baby screams her head off. Your baby settles down enough to fall asleep, but only in your arms. Holding your baby is something you’ve been dreaming of for months. Approximately nine. However, holding your baby means you can’t sleep. All that research tells you that cosleeping is dangerous. That your baby will suffocate. That you will roll onto your baby. All your research says that the safest place for your baby is in her own bed. Far from your loving arms. So you struggle to stay awake. Each time you nod off you wake in a panic. The nurse comes in to take your vitals, offers to take your baby to the nursery, so you can sleep. Perhaps she offers to feed your baby formula if you’re breastfeeding. If you refuse she may tell you to plop your baby in the bassinet next to your bed. You try to explain that you can’t, that when she is laying down she is screaming her head off. The nurse tells you to let your baby cry. She says that your baby will cry herself to sleep. So you try this, nurses know better than you, right? After a few seconds of this you scoop up your bundle of joy, she’s back in your arms where she belongs. This means you can’t sleep. Your partner is snoring away of course. Daybreak finally arrives. You haven’t slept a wink. You’re exhausted. You’re discharged. Suddenly you think this motherhood thing may not be all it’s cracked up to be. You get home, all you want to do is fall into bed and sleep for hours, days even. You feel broken, both physically, and mentally. Perhaps you have help at home, someone to take the baby. You try to sleep, the thing you want most to do, and yet you can’t. Paralyzing fear keeps you awake. All that research you did is biting you in the ass. All you can think about is SIDS, your baby eating enough, post-partum depression, you name it you fear it. The last thing on your mind is a shower. Your former life has shattered. Sleeping through the night seems lifetimes ago. You get irritable. Everything your partner does feels like it’s in slow motion. You cry at the drop of a hat. Tears pour out of your eyes at an alarming rate, simply because you ate the last piece of pie. When you have a moment between dirty diapers, spit up, and feeding your baby you breathe. You realize you’ve been home for a day, yet it feels like a year. You realize it looks like a bomb has gone off in your house, dishes have piled up, the trash is overflowing. Even your pets look haggard. Your hair has a combination of spit up and poop caked in it. Lastly, you realize your nipples hurt. They feel like they are on fire. Your shirt smells like sour milk, the thought occurs to you that it might not simply be spit up. You take your first shower. Standing under the blessed hot spray of momentary freedom you look down and examine your bruised and battered body. A delightful war has gone on within your body. Your breasts, so engorged they look like the most solid of implants, leaking with that liquid gold they call breast milk. Your body marked with a map of bright red stretch marks. Your scars. Your stomach sags, like a deflated balloon. All in all you’re a mess. You wash your hair three times, simply because you forgot you did it before. You dry off. The towel feels like sandpaper on your sensitive nipples. Never again will you find your breasts a sex object. They are simply a food source. They are your magic wand, for when your baby latches she sleeps peacefully. Content, she sighs, smiles a milky smile, and poops. You curse whomever told you that breastmilk poop didn’t smell. It invades your nostrils every time you change a diaper. Maybe the same person told you that breastfeeding was easy. No. It would be easy to give your baby a bottle. You begin dreading putting your baby to your breast. What you had so looked forward to, your body is rejecting. Your nipples crack. They bleed. Your baby pulls on them as though they were rubber bands. Snapping them each time she latches. It hurts. You latch her on. She pulls of screaming and flailing. You latch her a second time. This time she suckles briefly. Just long enough for you to have a let-down. She rears her head back, rejecting your nipple. Milk sprays in five directions. It soaks her hair. Drips down her face. Soaks your shirt. You cry tears of frustration. Someone, perhaps family, a friend, a stranger on a breastfeeding page mentions a Lactation Consultant. You briefly remember seeing those words on a paper you left the hospital with. You shuffle through page after page until you find what you’re looking for. Contact information. You doubt yourself. It’s only been a week. You cautiously dial the number. The encouraging voice answers. She tells you things your research never did. She tells you how to deepen a latch. How to up supply. How to regain your sanity. Perhaps she encourages you to seek out a safe way to cosleep. You remove the heavy blankets, extra pillows, the baggage you’ve been carrying around for what feels like an eternity. You cautiously use the tips she gave you. Some work. Some don’t. Sleeping in a family bed still scares you. But you’re beginning to trust your body, your soul. The attachment you have to your baby. Your baby sleeps heavily next to you, only half waking to eat. You doze off with your heart next to your chest. You are one. You wake up slightly refreshed. The sky seems clearer, the grass greener. You begin to trust yourself. Slowly but surely you begin to respond to your baby’s cues. You feed her on demand. You snuggle her close when she cries. You begin to feel in control. You trust your body. You are after all, making the liquid gold your baby needs. You trust your baby. Your baby in her own way, tells you everything you need to know. You begin to rely on your instinct. What feels natural to you. You shower more often. You are beginning to feel a bit like the shell of your former self. You smile. Your baby smiles. That poop on your shirt, spit up in your hair. They are your new perfume. Your shirts always seem slightly damp from the leak of your breasts. You realize it no longer hurts so much to feed your baby. You call your Lactation Consultant and fill her in. She congratulates you. She gives you a bit more advice. Slowly but surely you fall into a pleasant routine. You throw that research you did out the window. You start looking up things like attachment parenting, baby wearing, breast feeding. You find other mama’s like you. You form bonds with them. Before you know it, your life is a new normal. You feel confident in yourself. In your parenting. You’re nothing like you thought you would be. Parenting is nothing like you thought it would be. It is so much better. Somehow while bringing another person into this world, you truly find yourself. You are finally a mother. You are a breastfeeding badass. You are proud of yourself. Empowered. You are one with your body. One with your baby. And there are two words that sum this amazing feeling up. Love. Trust.
Crunchy Hattitude is going on a road trip! We are going to MommyCon Philadelphia. Where we will learn a bunch, meet a ton of badass mama’s, and have some crunchy fun! We will leave behind our resident crunchy Daddy, kitties, and doggie. If you can go as well you should! MommyCon is August 11! If you can’t go, rest assured we will tell you all about it!! We will be attending seminars on baby wearing, cosleeping, breast feeding, and many other awesome topics! We will listen to Abby from the Badass Breastfeeder. We will NIP with great pride! We will keep you updated as we learn more!