Monday, May 5, 2008

Why I'm not "crunchy"

I am a first time mom, due to give birth in 6 weeks, give or take a few days/weeks.

Of course, like any excited new mom, I've been doing a lot of research, attempting to figure out how to proceed with the raising of a new human being. My mother in law is deceased, and my mom is unlike any other mom on this planet. Perhaps I'll go into that some other time. Suffice to say, I'm still here, and despite how differently she went about things, she did a decent job with me - I just know that as a resource, her advice won't be what I'm looking for. SO, my resources are: my best friend with twin girls who just turned 2 this past March, my husband who has a 13 year old (henceforth to be known as "the kid", as that's what we call her) and the Internet.

All of which have their pros and cons. Best friend? Newer info, but she's dealing with two at once, which is very different from having one at a time. Husband? Much older info (according to him, the mandate was side sleeping when his daughter was born), and its been a while since he's been confronted with an infant. The Internet? What a scary, scary place for a new mom.

One of the new trends (I'm unsure of whether or not its new, or its gaining more popularity than it had in the past, or if the people who subscribe to it are just really LOUD) is Attachment Parenting, as described by many experts such as Dr. William Sears.

According to the Wikipdia article, Attachment Parenting can be described as follows:

Per Dr. Sears' theory of attachment parenting (AP), proponents such as the API attempt to foster a secure bond with their children by promoting eight principles which are identified as goals for parents to strive for. These eight principles are:

Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
Feed with Love and Respect
Respond with Sensitivity
Use Nurturing Touch
Engage in Nighttime Parenting
Provide Consistent Loving Care
Practice Positive Discipline
Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life

These values are interpreted in a variety of ways. Many attachment parents also choose to live a natural family living (NFL) lifestyle, such as natural childbirth, home birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, babywearing, homeschooling, unschooling, the anti-circumcision movement, the anti-vaccination movement, natural health, cooperative movements, and support of organic food.

However, Dr. Sears does not require a parent to strictly follow any set of rules, instead encouraging parents to be creative in responding to their child's needs. Attachment parenting, outside the guise of Dr. Sears, focuses on responses that support secure attachments.

And all of this sounds great. Until you get to the actual practioners of said parenting style, who seem to ignore the last paragraph there.

I will go ahead and state how I feel about each topic above:

Home Births: They say that "This is how women did it from the beginning of time." I say, the mortality rate of women throughout history thanks to birthing does not warrant not taking the precaution of having access to emergency equipment and procedures if necessary.

Breastfeeding: If you can do it, do it. If you think you can't do it, keep trying. If you still can't, at least you tried. I can't see NOT wanting to, with all of the benefits it affords. And with as expensive as sprogs can be, saving money on formula is NOT a terrible thing. I was breastfed longer than the 6mo-1yr recommend, and it is VERY rare that I pick up whatever is going around. This is the Nouveau Crunchy topic I feel MOST strongly about, so while I'm very for it, I don't think its evil to bottle feed if its just not possible to breastfeed. I plan to pump after I return to work, and my goal is 6 months exclusive, and at least 6 months after that supplemental.

Babywearing: I'm very excited to be able to do this. Mostly because there are some areas and situations when a big honking stroller would just be more of a pain in the ass. My husband will not be wearing the baby, either in a sling (like me) or in a baby backpack. I'm ok with this.

Vaccinations: I'm for them, but the aggressive vaccination schedule with all of the new vaccines that have come into play since I was a child makes me wary. Why do brand new immune systems need to learn how to make antibodies for 6 diseases at once? Thankfully, my GP will be my kiddo's GP, and she and her partner at her practice are all about listening to patients. My kiddo will get vaccinated for necessary things. From what I can tell, maybe about 90% of what's there is necessary. More research shows that certain vaccines can have two or three doses depending on the brand that is used, so I plan to ask for the brands that have the fewest number of shots needed. Finally, my kiddo will be caught up with her counterparts by the time she hits school, just on a different schedule. Obviously, if there are certain guidelines that HAVE to be followed, ok. But, there are some where there is a range. Then why bother rushing it?

Anecdote: The kid has been sick at least four times since December. Her pediatrician noticed on a follow-up visit, when she was coming off her last bout with sickness (say maybe 2 days well) that she was due for all of her 12 year vaccines, and she needed them done before 8th grade. So the brilliance shown by both the doctor and agreed to by her mother with no input from her father? 5 vaccines AS she was coming off of sickness. She was out of school for another day (which she COULD NOT AFFORD), and her arm hurt like hell for days, and still hurt a bit even week later. If I were there, I would have thrown a fit, and told them they damned well better wait for summer time to do that in case she has a reaction.

Male Circumcision: I'm not vehemently against it, nor am I vehemently for it. I know there are videos out there that are very graphic that are used to convince people against doing it, but I'm not going to watch them, because I KNOW its a cosmetic thing. And I know it must be painful. But its also a preference. At the very least, if its done as a baby, there's no trauma of remembering the surgery.

Female Ear Piercing: In the Philippines, at least where my mother is from (Metro Manila), girls have their ears pierced at birth and threaded with string until they can get earrings. The doctors at the hospital where I was delivered would not do it. Luckily for my mother, my pediatrician was Indian, and ear piercing for girls is a cultural tradition there as well. My first holes were pierced when I was 3 months old. I never had a problem with them, they never grew funny, I wasn't allergic to anything. When I wanted more piercings at 14, and Mom wouldn't take me to get them done, I did them myself, with earrings and no ice. She was mad, but didn't make me take them out. Both sets healed up fine, and I still have three sets of holes in my ear to this day that I love. My GP and her partner are both Indian, and I don't foresee any problem getting my girl's ears pierced. And she will have pierced ears.

Anecdote: The kid wanted her ears pierced when she was 10 or so. Sparing the details, it took three tries, more time than it would take to pierce twenty 10 year olds, and she still has no holes in her ears. After the second attempt, I swore that if we had a daughter, she would have her ears pierced as a baby, because she wouldn't remember, and it wouldn't be as much of a hassle. It will take an extra 30 seconds to clean earring holes when doing any other cleaning activity with the baby, so its not that big a deal to me. As for the kid? Jeff has put his foot down and will NOT be paying for another attempt, and has said if she wants her ears pierced, she'll pay for it herself after she's 18.

Cloth Diapering: No. Whether its disposable or cloth, there is still an impact to the environment, and it will cost as much either way if I do disposable or if I do a delivery service and I'll still have to clean poo. Frankly, I'm going to be about convenience. Disposable all the way.

Homemade Food: Why the hell not? One, its a money saver, because all someone has to do is take a hand blender and mash up whatever everyone else is eating. Two, you control what's in the food. Three, it probably tastes better than jarred. Four, the baby will be more likely to eat your cooking when they actually move to solids, and be more accustomed to real world food.

Stay-at-home parenting: We're doing this because we figured out that we would have to put a direct deposit from the school where my husband works into a day care were he to continue working. Its purely economic.

Co-Sleeping: Baby will be in our room for space reasons for at least a year or two at the most. Baby will NOT be in our bed, because 1) I don't think its safe 2) My husband doesn't think its safe 3) There really isn't room for a third in our bed 4) We both don't think its healthy, and that it will form attachment for sleeping with mom and dad and it will be too difficult to get the kiddo into their own bed. In cultures where co-sleeping is the norm, chances are, there is little to no room for a baby to sleep anywhere else, and in some instances, safety away from mom and dad is probably a bigger issue.

Homeschooling (unschooling): We will likely be homeschooling. The public schools in our area are not very good, despite the teachers' and principals' best efforts. We don't have money for private school, and there aren't any charters close enough to us to give a whirl. I don't understand the concept of "unschooling" much except that it seems to put the child in charge of what the child will be learning. If you keep reading this blog, you will find out why I think that's a bad idea.

That's it for now. If you've made it this far, congrats. Next post will be my trigger/motivation for starting this blog.


specialaffinity said...

Your statement that if a baby is circumcised at birth, he won't remember it - is incorrect. Please read the study below, before you do harm to your son. Pain & Circ

Anna Taddio, a pain specialist at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, noticed more than a decade ago that the male infants she treated seemed more sensitive to pain than their female counterparts. This discrepancy, she reasoned, could be due to sex hormones, to anatomical differences — or to a painful event experienced by many boys: circumcision. In a study of 87 baby boys, Taddio found that those who had been circumcised soon after birth reacted more strongly and cried for longer than uncircumcised boys when they received a vaccination shot four to six months later. Among the circumcised boys, those who had received an analgesic cream at the time of the surgery cried less while getting the immunization than those circumcised without pain relief.

Taddio concluded that a single painful event could produce effects lasting for months, and perhaps much longer. “When we do something to a baby that is not an expected part of its normal development, especially at a very early stage, we may actually change the way the nervous system is wired,” she says. Early encounters with pain may alter the threshold at which pain is felt later on, making a child hypersensitive to pain — or, alternatively, dangerously indifferent to it. Lasting effects might also include emotional and behavioral problems like anxiety and depression, even learning disabilities (though these findings are far more tentative).

Anonymous said...

The previous commenter has a link from This link is a reprint of an article from the New York Times. The commenter also goes on to claim how there was a study on 87 baby boys who just happened to cry longer after a vaccination because they were circumcised.

Medical claims like this are only considered credible if they are backed up by studies published in journals. Not once does this commenter or the NYT article refer to a published study. The NYT article isn't even written by someone in the medical community.

I don't doubt that babies feel pain, but you can't just go quoting some random site you found on the internet to prove a point.

If you need to prove a point, do it like this:

Male Circumcision and HIV Prevention: British Medical Journal 12/9/00 Van Howe, et al.

Male circumcision, penile human papillomavirus infection, and cervical cancer: New England Journal of Medicine 4/11/02 Castellsagué, et al.