I have always prided myself on being led by my heart, not by my head. I work on instinct not logic (lucky really, as my head doesn’t fully understand the concept of ‘logic’). Sometimes this isn’t such a good thing, I can make impulsive decisions and take my life down life-changing paths without actually thinking anything through. Generally, however, I feel it’s a good thing. I know to trust my intuition. I am generally a good judge of character (so long as a boy with a pretty face and a good CD collection isn’t involved…these things have been known to seriously compromise my trusty character judgement) and however impulsive my decisions may be, they at least feel like the right thing to do at the time.
So when I became a mother, I didn’t even think about ‘following’ a parenting style. I just did what I felt was right. I trusted my instincts. Inadvertently, I adopted an attachment style of parenting, without having ever heard of Attachment Parenting. I only realised that co-sleeping, breast-feeding, carrying The Baby in a sling and not letting her out my arms all day equalled Attachment Parenting when I was searching for the most elusive of all answers; the answer more sought-after than ‘What is the meaning of life?’…’WHY WON’T MY BABY STOP FRICKING CRYING????’
I found a book written by Dr Sears called The Fussy Baby Book. In the absence of The Really Loud, Demanding, Miserable, Screaming Devil-Child Book, I figured this might at least point me in the right direction. I was, of course, wrong. There were musings, there were theories, often ‘backed-up’ by real-life stories, but no-one could actually tell me why The Baby cried and screamed morning, noon and night. And all through the night until the following morning.
Turns out, as much as I was an Attachment Parent, The Baby was not. She didn’t want to be carried in a sling, she wanted to be able to walk and crawl and generally get some independence as soon as was humanly possible. Breastfeeding didn’t fill her bottomless stomach up and left her very often hungry. Co-sleeping was just a great excuse for finding distractions with which to evade sleep. No, The Baby was definitely not an Attachment Baby.
Despite all this, I still trust my instincts. I knew when she was ready to be weaned. I knew that if she could get into a pattern of sleep she would be less miserable (I just didn’t know how to establish this pattern). I know the extent of her fledgling vocabulary (Daddy, Mummy and various animal sounds), I know how far she can confidently walk unaided (around the living room) and I know that if I walk her in her pushchair for an hour, she won’t go to sleep until 55 minutes into the walk. I very often know what the frustrated screams mean (she’s tired), I know why the pinching and eye-poking starts (she’s tired), I know why she starts to try to run around at a hundred miles an hour after her bath (she’s tired), and I know all the signs of teething.
See, when The Baby was ten weeks old, she started to dribble. A lot. She would suck her bottom lip over her gums so she looked like a Cabbage Patch kid. I was horrified when a friend told me she was probably teething (at ten weeks??), but sure enough at sixteen weeks her bottom two teeth came through. By the time she was six months old she had all eight incisors. At around seven months she was extremely rosy-cheeked, very dribbly and very clingy. The gums where her canines will cut through had flattened and were swollen. Nothing happened. No new teeth appeared. These teething symptoms have appeared every few weeks since February, and nothing happens. She has a raised temperature, a bit of nappy rash, lots of dribbling, and she bites necks with a vigour that would have won her a lead role in Salem’s Lot. And no teeth appear.
Last week we had two days of these symptoms. “Oh, she’s just teething”, I’d say by way of explanation as to why her clothes appear to have just been dragged out the local river, and think nothing more of it.
Imagine my surprise, then, when a couple of days ago, after a marathon of shoulder-biting at my parents’ house, I reached into her mouth to apply Calgel in an attempt to calm the vampiric behaviour, to find four new teeth! The Baby has cut her molars and I never realised. Attachment Parenting? I never felt more detached.
But I tell you this: I am about to be the most attached of Attachment Parents. Not one more hair will grow on her head without me noticing it, she will not grow another millimetre without me documenting it, and she will never, ever dribble or bite again without me sticking my fingers into her mouth to find out if any new teeth are springing through.
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