Hi, I’m new to this but looking forward to sharing some thoughts that come from my work and life as a new parent combined. I’m Mum to Phoebe who is now 7 months old and I’m partner to Carl. I’m a psychologist and I work with children, parents and teachers among many others! When I can catch a breath, I ride bikes. Not in lycra on the terrifying roads but in the mud, in the mountains and mostly pointing downhill. It’s my therapy. So somewhere in all that, I’m hoping to write something on family life!
Recently, because Phoebe doesn’t seem to like sleep and also because attachment is something I always think about at work, that’s where I’m starting. Here goes….
I didn’t plan to breast feed this long (when I returned to work), to co sleep, to carry my baby where ever possible or give her food to smear far and wide across the kitchen when spoon feeding would have been cleaner and my Mum really thinks I should!
It just happened. I’m not advocating that my choices are the best for every parent and child (at all) but I would go as far as to say that they are not easy options if you have the luxury of a choice. Now I’m a pragmatic person who is extremely organised and efficient so in this sudden and extreme change in my lifestyle, resulting from becoming a mum, what happened?
I had a list of things I was and wasn’t planning on doing when I was pregnant. I listened to others’ experiences, friends, relatives and professionals. I read a host of books and did internet research. Mostly, what I learnt was that there is no best way and for every argument there’s a counter argument. I got so sick of getting stuck with this torrent of advice which was filling up my head that I decided not to use my head at all. I’m going with my heart.
And then suddenly, here was this baby who was so attached to me, I couldn’t put her down so I could pee! She suckled for hours on end and she slept, occasionally, but always with her skin on mine. And it was hard because I was just so tired but overcome with love that I could only do things her way. Now this is not how I imagined things would be.
So now, 7 months later, her Dad thinks she should try her in her own room, try a ‘world facing buggy’ and be able to take formula occasionally so I can stop breast pumping at work. He wants the best for all of us I know. I think she can. I think she would be okay with those things after just a bit of practice.
But I’m not okay.
It turns out, I’m the one with separation anxiety. That’s not what I was told would happen. No one said, I might cry sleeping apart or that I’d need to walk backwards in front of the buggy so I could see her little face and know she could see mine. I didn’t expect to be battling to breast pump at work, or writing to my MP because I was enraged about how hard that was.
I talk about attachment on a daily basis at work. How children need that attachment figure. What we need to provide for them through our relationship. But somewhere, in the theory, I must have missed something. And here it is staring me in the face, I wonder if I actually need her more than she needs me. I’d assumed she’d be the vulnerable one. I’m going to have to, one day, accept that she will grow up. But for now, I’m going to carry on listening to my heart, I think my intuitive parenting is actually doing an okay job.
Thanks for reading, Amelia