When I had my first child I was 25 and it was an unplanned pregnancy, I had been dating her father for three years in a long distance relationship and had only recently moved in with him. We live on a broad acre farm in the Eastern Wheat belt so I changed jobs, houses, left my friends and become pregnant all in the space of a few weeks. I was very unsure of myself and trawled the internet for any info I could get on how to raise a baby, I came across a variety of info most of which suggested strict routines and teaching your baby to self-settle were the way forward with a newborn. My good friend did give me a copy of The Attachment Parenting Book by William and Martha Sears I was dubious as it seemed very ‘hippy’ to me. After my daughter was born I struggled, she would not sleep other than at the breast and as soon as I put her down she would wake up. I became more and more exhausted and developed post natal anxiety. I ended up at a sleep training clinic who taught me how to get my 5 week old daughter how to self-settle. This involved leaving her to cry until her cries became distressed sounding and then going back in to resettle her. I spent months and months beside her cot trying to teach her this; it was very stressful for us both. Please don’t feel I am in any way judging those that to believe in sleep training it simply was not for us.
When my second baby was born my daughter was 2.5 years and still quite a highly strung young lady (a bit like myself). With my son I started out following the same routines however I found it impossible to sit beside the cot and sleep train him because I had a 2.5 year old to attend to at the same time, I had a sling but was too scared to use it in case he became dependant on me to get to sleep. After a while my son became very overtired due to lack of day time sleep and I once again reached breaking point. This time I decided to do things a bit differently, I ‘gave in’ as I called it at the time, I invested in a good quality carrier and started to breastfeed on demand and carried my son for all his day time sleeps. The difference was amazing! My son was no longer over tired, I had more time to spend with my toddler and the stress levels in our house hold went down considerably. I was amazed and wanted to tell everyone about this new thing I had discovered, little did I know human infants have been worn close to a parents body for thousands of years and still are in many countries. The freedom I felt was amazing suddenly I had two hands free! My son grew very quickly and I am quite a petite woman at around 58kgs so I learned to back carry him when he was around 3 months old, I found I could easily meet his needs and feel comfortable with my baby’s weight evenly distributed on my back.
Of course everyone has their opinion and people were quick to tell me I was spoiling my baby or he would never learn to sleep/walk ect, I am pleased to report my son learned to walk recently at 13 months and has been sleeping through the night since 4 months old. People in my small town seem to have come to accept the way I do things now and have stopped giving me advice, I am happy to be the hippy as I know how people love labels.