Something happened to me after watching The Business of Being Born. I should both credit and blame that movie for every parenting decision I’ve ever made. It convinced me to have a home birth, a wonderful experience that I don’t regret. But it also sent me down the path of reading books on “natural parenting,” which led me into the empire of Dr. Sears.
The attachment parenting promise is an enticing one. It encourages closeness through things like breastfeeding and bed-sharing, promotes the ideal of the perfect mother-child bond, and saves you hundreds of dollars you would’ve spent on plastic baby stuff. It even claims your child will become a tantrum-free toddler, a kind kindergartener and generally the Mother Teresa of all children.
What hormonal pregnant woman wouldn’t buy into this philosophy?
When my daughter was a newborn, the attachment parenting system was nearly flawless (okay, I had to do Lamaze-esque panting every time my baby latched on because it hurt my nipples so bad, but aside from that everything was great). Co-sleeping was awkward at first but within days I was feeling more rested than I could’ve ever imagined. After figuring out how to work the carrier I’d sewn myself, I was toting baby around proudly. I posted proud pictures to Facebook of me giddily “wearing” my baby, this Madonna of modern motherhood.
I must admit I judged mothers out in public who stored their newborns in carseats and strollers. I just knew their children were doomed to be emotionally illiterate deviants. My baby, however, was going to end world hunger and war in the Middle East.
Within weeks baby had doubled her birth weight. She was in the 99th percentile for everything. I was proud that my boobs “worked,” but suddenly I had searing pains through my back, chest and arms from wearing her around. I felt like the hugest failure at home when I opted to lay her down in a bassinet instead of nestling her against my chest. I felt like the hugest of hugest failures when I first put her in the stroller in public. I wanted to wear a sign that said, “I swear I’m a good AP parent, she’s only in the stroller because I can’t physically carry her right now because she’s heavy for her age and my muscles haven’t had time to adjust and please don’t call CPS on me, I swear I’m a good mother.”
I realize now that other mothers probably didn’t give a shit about me.