You can probably imagine that I have done quite a bit of research into parenting techniques over the past year. I am, to put it mildly, obsessive about being informed. I've looked at/read up on everything from Babywise(full disclosure - I am not a fan) to Dr. Sears and most of the stuff in between. I have also tried to pay attention to what my friends and relatives who are parents of young children do, how it works out for them, etc. In all of this prep time one of the most important observations I have noted down for myself is that almost everyone's parenting plan changes after the baby actually arrives. My friend who lives deep in Babywise country ended up pretty much straight-up following Dr. Sears' attachment model because that was the most natural for her baby and worked the very best(baby is thriving). My friend who was sold on attachment parenting and co-sleeping ended up moving her son to a crib earlier than expected because no one was getting any sleep, including him! Her baby, turns out, just slept better on his own despite her plans(baby is thriving). My super-natural parenting friend couldn't breastfeed her little one, and ended up needing to supplement and eventually completely feed her formula, which was really tough for her emotionally(but, baby is thriving). It's almost like babies have their own preferences and personalities, despite the careful plans we have laid out before their arrival!
So, I kept this in mind whilst making my parenting plans. I thought it would be interesting to see how my ideals and schemes matched up with reality, and how my own intellectual preferences would play out with our real live daughter.
At our initial WACAP training, which included potential adoptive parents for both international and domestic programs, we talked a lot about parenting style. We also attended an extra class on attachment. What I learned there was enough to convince me that some degree of attachment parenting was the way to go. Experts recommend attachment parenting - co-sleeping, feeding on demand, baby-wearing,never letting them cry it out - almost exclusively for older adopted babies, and even suggest implementing the parts of that model that will work when adopting young children and even older kids. So, it made sense to me that if this is how healthy attachment is promoted with older adopted children it must be how it works for brand new babies, too. (Maybe even for children born into the family!) We borrowed a co-sleeper and bought a snuggle nest. I purchased a moby wrap and was handed down a sling. I researched adoptive breastfeeding and kangaroo care (skin-to-skin time).
The Reality So Far.
Baby J spent two weeks with Granny and Papa M before we met her. They subscribe to the Baby Whisperer methods of parenting. Granny M handed me a worn copy of the book the first day we were there and recommended I read it from cover to cover. I finished it within a couple days. There was a lot I liked about it, some things that weren't quite my style, and others that just wouldn't be possible for us. For example that book is absolutely hands-down against having the baby in the parents bedroom. Even if I agreed with this, which I don't, we live in a one bedroom. But overall it's a nice middle of the road sort of book - not on either the Dr. Sears or Babywise extremes. So - while we were at the M's I compromised some of my ideals. I insisted that J be in my room, but she was in a crib and not my bed because I had given the snuggle nest to Y. She slept fine there, and continues to sleep fine in her co-sleeper. As she has settled in, J has made it known that she does like to snuggle in bed with us, so she often starts the night that way, and usually ends up with us again in the morning for an hour or two of kangaroo care time. It's a nice compromise.
Maybe it's because of the way she started out, but J seems to resist being pigeonholed into a particular way of being parented. She doesn't want to be all the way in bed with us, but loves to nap there together. She falls asleep equally well in our arms or on her own when she is put down at the just-right-stage of drowsy. She tolerates the Moby Wrap and the sling but doesn't love either one. She would prefer to just be carried, thanks. And she is not down with adoptive breastfeeding, thank you very much, although there is nothing that comforts her quite like some time cuddled up to Mommy's (and only Mommy's!) chest. And while we are happy to feed on demand, J has developed her own little schedule of eating, playing, and then napping that is fairly consistant and predictable. Which makes anticipating her needs a little easier on us.
I find all of this fairly comforting. It's a good reminder to me that the best parenting plan is to pay attention to my child, respond to her needs, and trust that as we get to know each other I'll get better and better at it. This is real attachment parenting, I think, the process of being aware both of what I want and have planned and of where my child really is - and finding the best way for both of us to proceed from there. Meanwhile both parent and child gain confidence that the parent is ready and able to meet the child's needs, which promotes real trust and attachment.
Meanwhile, Baby J is thriving ♥. (latest stats: 10 lbs 1oz, 22.5 inches!)