When I was pregnant with Julia I lived in a land of ignorance and denial. My views on parenting were skewed to how I was raised.
There would be NO baby in my bed... co-sleeping is dangerous and bad for parents and kids.
Breastfeeding would last one year.
I had views on potty training, spanking (I was pro spanking), discipline... FULL OF OPINIONS on how I would raise my children.
From the moment after her delivery everything changed. What came naturally to me as a mom was so foreign to my views that it was almost painful. I questioned everything.
I know the parenting Gods were looking out for me - because instead of the pediatrician we had originally chosen to see - we saw the on-call ped. Ahhhh - glorious Dr. Littleguy. He made the parent I am today (the good stuff - the bad stuff is all me!).
I wanted to sleep with my baby... she would sleep about 15 minutes in the plastic shoebox they give you to hold your precious cargo, but would sleep for 5-6 hours on my chest. The nurses were thoroughly against this. "She needs to be in her bassinet honey. You can't sleep with your baby" They were missing the point - I wasn't sleeping - but she was!!
So when Dr. Littleguy came in to check on us... I asked him why I couldn't sleep with her. He let me in on a little secret. It is OK to sleep with your baby. You just have to take many precautions to do so safely - but it was ok. He also told me that the nurses were out at the desk smoking crack in between checking on their patients. He told me I don't have to wake her up every two hours on the hour to feed her as long as she was growing and having wet diapers.
I fell in love with that Little Guy.
When I got home on my own ---- all those doubts beleagured (ummm - is that a word??) me again. I spent two hours one night frantically searching for help on the internet to my parenting questions. Then I came across a term that changed my life. Attachment Parenting. It was as if someone had read my mind. It was OK to go with the flow in your parenting... it was OK not to have to schedule every minute of my newborn babies day... it was ok to not want her to have to cry herself to sleep so that she'd figure it out on her own.
My biggest enemy was myself in those early days. Giving up the vision I had of how I would parent. Accepting that it was ok to do what felt natural now - not what I thought I would do.
Julia spent the first 8 months of her life sleeping on my chest almost everytime she slept. I nursed her until she was 20 months old. I only tried the Cry it out method one time - and after 1/2 an hour gave in. Julia slept in her bed in our room until she was 3 1/2. We still let her sleep with us sometimes.
Things were different with Anna - she didn't like sleeping with me - so she was in a bassinet from birth - and rarely ever slept with me (now she loves napping with her mommy), I stopped nursing her at 15 months and i've had to learn a completely different style of parenting with her. This time I'm ok with it. Real attachment parenting is about following your child's cues. I completely understand that now.
AP has gotten a bad rap because a lot of women view it under very strict guidelines - in order to really AP - you MUST follow a checklist of things - and if you don't do them all you aren't really APing your child. I think this is bull-shit.
BUT - My Dan had a funny realization that I thought I'd share with you. As I stumbled through parenting Julia - my parents were very supportive - but they were - well - grandparents. LIttle comments piled up here and there... "she really needs to be in her own room", "she'll never sleep in her crib if you don't move her now" "are you going to nurse her to college", "are you ever going to let someone else watch her"
I know that they meant well - and sometimes they were right - and sometimes just not so right. (The first night I put Julia in her crib to sleep at 8 months- she slept the entire night there - and was continued after).
A lot of this came from my dad. Don't get me wrong - I completely understand he was trying to funny more often than not - but sometimes it just gets to you. One night - after a couple too many comments about my style of parenting, I was venting to Dan. He started laughing and said "well, you can't listen to that man, for God sakes, he Attachment parents his dogs"
It all became clear... he did/does indeed AP his dogs. His chief complaint was me co-sleeping - I'll let you guess if his 130lb Mastiff sleeps in bed with him... and not just in his bed, but usually spooning and cuddling with him. He doesn't put her in a dog kennel anymore - even the $5k air-conditioned/automatic watering/indoor-outdoor/double kennel he had attached to their new house. He refers to her going to the bathroom as going "tee tee". He'd rather sleep in a van with her than in the house with the rest of his extended family. I swear to God that he would nurse that dog if he could figure out how to do it.
So - apparently I came by the AP philosphy honestly.