Jasmine: When we first found out that I was pregnant, there were so many parenting choices we were faced with: Breast or bottle? Granny, maid or infantcare? Sling or stroller? What the heck is a breast pump and does it hurt?
While many of the choices we have made adhere to the philosophy known as attachment parenting (AP), I think of us as accidental attachment parents. AP is premised on the idea that starting from as young as infancy, children who are securely attached or bonded with their parents are more likely to use those loving relationships as a secure base from which they can explore their world, gain confidence and eventually independence. [Andrew: As you can see, Jasmine is the one who has researched more extensively than me – not just about what to buy (which she’s always glad to do), but also about parenting styles and tips for various phases of baby’s growth. Thanks D!]
Choice 1: Breast or bottle
I’ve said my piece about this but just want to emphasize that while not always easy or fun, breastfeeding has been truly rewarding and has helped me form a vital bond with my new breast friend. Especially now that I have gone back to work (3 days a week, by using the remainder of my maternity leave flexibly). I miss my baby loads but I get to go home every day bearing “gifts” for him- expressed milk that I pump in whatever conference room or office is available, and discreetly store in the common fridge in a black bag! (The previous bag was a Ben & Jerry one in a black and white cow print. Totally subtle, I know.) Hopefully my unsuspecting male colleagues don’t use the milk with their coffees or their coffees will end up tasting like my last meal, heheheh! [Andrew: I once considered having it with my oats when we ran out of milk. Heh.]
And on another note, it’s so cute when I return home and baby Dylan buries his face in my shoulder and snuffles all around like a hedgehog looking for his next delicious meal.
Choice 2: Co-sleeping or crib in the nursery
Co-sleeping is the baby sleeping in the same bedroom as his parents but in his own crib, not to be confused with bedsharing which is the baby sleeping on the same surface as the parents e.g. a bed. Again, research (not AP-related) showed that co-sleeping reduced the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) as the physical proximity helped parents be more attuned to their child’s every need and meet them promptly. Moreover, it intuitively made sense to have Baby D in the same room as us so that instead of taking the Walk of Shame to the nursery several times nightly, we could catch his feeding cues early. By which I mean that when I hear Baby stir and whimper at 6am, I smack my sleeping husband so he can feed Dylan a bottle of expressed milk before Dylan erupts into full-on wailing. Yes, Andrew is a saint.
But in case I ever take over that early morning feed again, we bought a co-sleeper with sides that can be let down, so technically I don’t even have to get off my bed, just have to roll baby over to me.
Andrew: Another benefit of co-sleeping is more intangible, perhaps not even research proven, and that is the joy of being able to watch baby as he sleeps so peacefully. When I go to the toilet at night, I sometimes just watch over baby, place my hand (very gently, of course!) on him so as to feel him breathing. It brings such peace and joy.
Choice 3: Sling or stroller
Jasmine: We made this choice not because of some lofty AP aspiration but because it just seemed like the practical thing to do. I’ve seen too many parents pushing strollers filled with shopping bags, while they still have to carry their children in their arms. Plus I always thought it was kind of creepy to see a completely covered stroller with a pair of tiny feet sticking out.
Anyhow, I chose babywearing (or transporting babies in slings/ carriers) because I wanted baby Dylan to bond with me instead of the roof of a plastic stroller. I wanted him to see the world at my eye level, not at my knee level. I wanted him to feel safe and secure knowing I was right next to him, instead of feeling vulnerable and alone when thrust out into the crowd in a pram.
Therefore, I did some research and bought two slings- the Sakura Bloom ring sling and the Ergobaby carrier. The Sakura Bloom ring sling has turned out to be my best purchase so far- I use it almost daily, whether shopping, visiting my mum or just carrying baby D around the house. Sometimes, when Dylan is having a crying fit, I’ll sling him and he will calm down within minutes. Once I sling him, Baby D seems to know we’re going out and will fall asleep before I can even reach the MRT station.
Quite a few strangers have remarked about how comfortable it looks! Because of how the fabric distributes the weight evenly, I can wear it for 3-5 hours without any back or shoulder pain, which is quite amazing considering all the baby weight is on one shoulder. The linen is also cooling, such that Baby D’s back doesn’t even break into a sweat even when I wear him in humidity.
Many parents have told us that we will need a pram eventually, when Dylan is too heavy to carry, and I do see the usefulness of having a place to “park” baby D if we are at a wedding dinner or something, but for now I am planning to “wear” him as long as I comfortably can.
Andrew: I’ll add a comment here on the ergobaby carrier, which has been really good too. It spreads the weight out so well that you can barely feel the weight of baby and keeps baby close to you as well (a point which is great when he’s asleep and calm, but it also means that when he starts screaming and struggling, it gets quite stressful). I love how many compartments it has too so you can actually store many things with it and it has a very nice hood that helps to cover baby when he falls asleep. I was really concerned initially about the discomfort of it and whether it would be hot using such a carrier in our tropical heat. Most of the places we’ve brought babyD too are air-conditioned though, so I can’t judge on that yet. I also haven’t mastered the art of removing the ergobaby carrier on my own yet, though technically it can be put on and removed by one person. (Jasmine: dear, if I can do it, you can do it too! Heheh.) Nonetheless, I’ll definitely say for now, I prefer carriers to strollers, for all the reasons that Jasmine has already cited above. The most difficult part has been dining out with baby, but what we’ve tried to do is to always find areas with cushioned bench seating and if baby falls asleep, we’ll lay him down on his changing-pad on the seat and let him sleep while we enjoy our meal. It has happened quite a few times already!
Jasmine: Overall, I would say that our style of accidental attachment parenting has been working out well for us. Critics have said that it enslaves the mother to the home but i feel that it has enabled me to resume my normal life faster, thanks to the conveniences of breastfeeding and babywearing which make going out possible. Yet I am not averse to the idea of renting a stroller or bottle-feeding baby D with expressed milk (obviously have to be ok with that idea if I ever want to go back to work or, y’know, sleep in at 6am). Like all parents, we are forced to be creative and mix and match philosophies, practices and gadgets until we find a combination that works for our families.