Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Posted by Maggie May Labels: Babies To Teenagers
Lola is eight. This means I'm circling round again with Ever, the long way, back to the primal basics of mothering, back to birth, breast, body- the care of a baby. My Aunt Elizabeth was a big granola mommy, taking the teenage me to sloppy health food stores downtown and changing her cloth diapered babies on my lap in the car. My red headed cousin Simon was my first experience with cloth diapers, and somehow it seemed as natural as hanging clothes on my Grandma's line in the Mississippi backyard. I watched Elizabeth nurse her babies past the point of true babyhood, sleep with their sweaty sweet bodies next to hers at night, carry them in slings against her abdomen. I was a teenager. It was a shrug. OK- this is what mothering is. I just took on good faith.
Elizabeth had her second son, Aaron ( who changed Aaron, officially his middle name, to David, officially his first name, as a pre-teen ) at home in her small apartment, with Simon in the next room. My sister Lura was there. I asked her how it was. She shrugged. Brutal, her reply. OK- this is what birthing is. You lay down on your bed and scream and push a baby out. I just took it on good faith.
And then I was pregnant at nineteen, before the world had a chance to chip away at all that. I had Dakota Wolf in a hospital, what my insurance provided, and it was not what I wanted ( induced with Pitocin but refused drugs ( OUCH ) episiotomy and then a plunger on Dakota's head leaving two devil lumps for weeks afterward ), until the moment he was born when it was more than I had dreamed I deserved. I nursed him and partial clothed his tiny butt and slept with his latched mouth on my breast. I carried him and slung him and came close to eating him up, my devotion and my heart having until that time, no place to hone it's skills. Dakota came along and I had some kind of hippie love orgasm avalanche...love! I loved EVERYONE! I loved this world! Most of all, I loved my baby boy. I was gobsmacked head over heels in love, and the nursing and sleeping and all of it seemed again as natural as breathing and as a clear representation of love in action as I knew to do. I had no idea there was a name for it.
Attachment Parenting. I stumbled across Mothering online, and months later became part of the newly formed APU= Attachment Parenting Utopia, we called it. It was my first experience bonding with other mothers, and my first understanding that what I was doing was considered weird by some, even offensively wrong. I was living with my mom in suburbia, and shortly after venturing out into the suburban world with my baby and meeting other mothers, I realized how lucky I was to have found this sanctuary, a place where women didn't look at me aghast when I talked about the way I lived with my baby. APU became my most essential and trusted resource for information outside of my beloved books and my mother. I brought every question there, and soon was bringing my heart and soul too. A hundred or so of us bonded on a level I would have thought impossible through pixel. I had women lawyers at my fingertips to discuss the fact that I partially vaccinated, expert nutritionist moms to discuss Dakota's allergies, new moms, old moms, conservative and decidedly NOT so moms- moms of all kinds who remain to this day the most intelligent, passionate and fiercely devoted group of women I had ever had the privilege to love and be loved by. The picture I posted here is of one of those women.
We went through life and death together. For nine months one of us carried her baby boy, and I will never forget the post announcing that he had been born still, the day before. Just like I will never forget the post announcing that one of our mothers, an incredibly gentle, sweet souled mother of five, had lost her oldest son Jordan as he slept. Or when Ashley, the newest APU baby, was diagnosed with leukemia after her Momma posted a picture of the weird lump on her head wondering what she should do. I will never forget the threads that went on for pages of laughter. The Christmas exchanges! I will never forget the outpouring of love and card and gift every time one of us was in pain. I will never forget the other babies born during the same year as Lola, and still see updates on many on Facebook. One of the APU women came down from LA and was the doula at Lola's birth in the Best Start Birthing Center here in downtown San Diego.
The arguments, the passions running high, the daily updates.. all with the connective thread of Attachment Parenting. I learned that in general, AP Parenting consists of Dr. Sears list: co-sleeping, gentle discipline, nursing and baby wearing. Other behaviors regularly ran with these, like organic eating and serious enviromental awareness and action, but aren't part of the 'definition'. I also learned how limiting a definition is, because in a pack of women this size there were many ways of representing for AP. So when Ever's born, I will be again long term nursing, co-sleeping, baby carrying, partial vaccinating, the whole shebang.
Feeling her miniature muscles moving and testing against my body as she is held against my chest while I walk, wash dishes, talk. Watching her watch me as she nurses. The trust built between someone helpless and tiny as you bury your needs and meet theirs. Her tiny tiny face blinking up at Mr. Curry and I between our bodies in the deep pouring darkness of midnight, when she wakes to nurse. Mr. Curry half waking, smiling at me, at Ever, kissing her face, rolling over to fall back asleep. This, to me, is intimacy. This is falling in love, making a family.
I can't wait. It's as natural as breathing.