This post is part of the 2010 API Principles of Parenting blog carnival, a series of monthly parenting blog carnivals, hosted by API Speaks. Learn more about attachment parenting by visiting the API website.

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When I first got pregnant six years ago, the first thing I wanted to buy was What To Expect When You’re Expecting. It was the only book about pregnancy I’d ever heard of. As far as I was concerned, it was a woman’s pregnancy bible.

And then, about half way through my pregnancy I heard about Dr. Sears’s The Baby Book and everything changed: I entered the world of attachment parenting. Except that I was already there and just never knew my values had a name.

I had always wanted to breastfeed. My mother didn’t breastfeed me and her mother didn’t breastfeed her, so I wasn’t expecting a lot of support in this area, but I knew it was the right thing to do, and I was determined to make it work no matter what. I remember near the end of my pregnancy I realized that I did not actually know how it worked. The midwives laughed and lent me a book that I raced through over the next couple days, trying to memorize the drawings so I could get it just right, but in retrospect I wished I’d just chilled out about it. Babies know instinctively what to do (most of the time) and I had my midwives there to ensure we got off to a good start no matter what my education level was on the subject. Today, I recommend other expecting moms to attend a La Leche League meeting. I started attending meetings when my baby was 3 months old and I remember thinking I should have come months earlier. I learned so much from those meetings.

I had a team of midwives to help me have a home birth. In addition to reading the Dr. Sears book, my midwives suggested other books for me to read. Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth was a favorite and helped me prepare for any challenges I might face during a natural birth. I studied that book as though I was going to be tested on it. Because quite literally, I would be. Pam England’s Birthing From Within also helped me work through any fear I had about the pregnancy and becoming a mother. Through art and journalling I explored and celebrated my feelings about the baby growing inside me. Afterwards, I produced a beautiful pregnancy scrapbook with all my drawings. The midwives also filled in the gaps with other relevant information about my pregnancy and the upcoming birth. I highly recommend midwife-attended births, if only for the fact that you learn so much from them. The only thing I never read up about or talked to anyone about was what happened after the baby was born.

In the end, I ended up having an emergency cesarean. I was crushed. I had refused to read up on them because I was so certain I would get my home birth and I had even gone so far as to not pack a hospital bag. What did I learn from this? The power of positive thinking doesn’t always work! That, and be responsible and research all aspects of birth beforehand because you never know what nature might have in store for you!

Luckily, my daughter latched on within the first hour and other than some minor nipple chapping and tearing, we didn’t have any breastfeeding problems. She went on to breastfeed until the eve of her third birthday.

When we got home from the hospital, I looked at the crib I was certain I would use, and then looked at my baby and thought, “What was I thinking?” I couldn’t bear to be apart from her so we shared my bed every night until she was two. Later, I learned that this instinctive move benefitted our breastfeeding relationship, as well as protected her from SIDS, the very thing nay-sayers were worried about.

I wore my daughter in a ring sling. Later, I discovered the Moby Wrap, which I much preferred for my second daughter. I do wish I had researched other baby carriers though. Today, if I were to have another baby, in addition to the Moby I would purchase a mei-tei and an Ergo.

I was fortunate enough to have a year long maternity leave, and then decide to work from home after that year was up, during which time I spent a lot of time reading up on attachment parenting and happily finding my values reflected within the pages of the many books I read. Dr. Sears’s The Fussy Baby Book was especially a lifesaver for me during my daughter’s first year of challenging and spirited behaviours.

Now that my oldest daughter is five and my other daughter is two, I feel a bit more seasoned as a mother. I read books less and listen to and watch my children more. I spend time with other families who hold similar values and we learn from each other by sharing our stories about what has worked for us and offering each other support. I have learned that attachment parenting is as much about following your instincts and doing what is natural than anything else. Motherhood hasn’t been everything I expected, but by following my instincts and attachment parenting principles, I have gratifyingly faced the challenges.

Which things about motherhood were you not prepared for? Which ones were you prepared for? How did you deal with unexpected challenges?

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16 Responses to “The Things I Didn’t Expect When I Was Expecting”

  1. #1 TheFeministBreeder Says:
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