A Month of Mothering: Natural, Gentle Parenting

This guest post is part of our Month of Mothering. In recognition that all mothers want what’s best for their baby, and knowing we all have different ways of achieving that, we welcome commentaries and experiences from mothers of all different philosophies and practices. Please note that the opinions expressed and baby care techniques used are reflective of the individual posters only, and do not imply endorsement or recommendation of the Other Baby Book.

I had only been 17 for a few months when I found out I was pregnant. I was young, and pretty wild at the time. I lacked respect for others, and well as myself. I knew nothing of what I was going to face in my life, knew nothing of the times ahead. I had only just met this guy, and boom – I was pregnant! Family and friends were not optimistic of the outcome, but I had a feeling – a hope – things would work out.

I went into labor on my due date, September 25th, 2002. It was a natural vaginal delivery (not my choice) and my son was born not breathing. I didn`t get to enjoy his first moments of life, as he was whisked away to be resuscitated, and then spent time in the NICU. I wasn’t ever asked if I wanted to breastfeed. I often regret not nursing him and even tried around two weeks of age, but my local nurse was no help and I hadn’t a clue what I was doing, so I went the formula route. I did various other things that my doctor recommended, including using the Cry-It-Out method at eight months.
Though these decisions seemed to go against my instincts for what was best for my son, I assumed the doctor knew best.
Jacob is now eight years old and suffers from severe ODD, as well as Bi-Polar disorder and motor ticks, along with anxiety. And no, I do not blame it all on how his first year went, but I do believe it has played a significant role. He lacks ability to trust, and is not a cuddly child. His psychiatrist even asked me if my son was breastfed. It got me thinking…and of course the guilt came rolling in! Though there’s nothing I can do to turn back the hands of time, and though Jacob has a long hard road ahead of him, we will get through it. One day at a time.
I went on to have another child, Kaleb, in February of 2008 and unfortunately, he didn’t survive longer than eight hours after delivery. I was 37 weeks when my placenta detached and he and I bled out….only I had a lot more blood to lose than he did. I didn’t get to look into his eyes, hear him cry or feel his little  hand grasp onto mine. It was soon after his death that I realized I needed to listen to myself, and follow my heart with my children and when my next baby was born that is what I did.
Kayleigh came on December 30, 2009 after a LONG and worrisome pregnancy. I was high risk and had weekly appointments, which were 45 minutes from my home. It was exhausting to say the least, and I had to juggle them with my son’s appointments as well. Kayleigh was born by scheduled C-section four weeks early, and was a lovely 6lbs5oz and 18 3/4 inches long. She was perfect! She came out screaming and so full of life, not at all like my other two. Upon hearing her cry, the tears began to flow.
I told the hospital staff I planned to breastfeed, and soon after delivery we had our skin-to-skin and she nursed. It was amazing! She was a pro for sure. We co-slept with her; I started thinking about cloth diapers; I bought a wrap and wore her often…and it felt so natural to me. It was heaven. People told me I would spoil her; that I should let her cry; feed her cereal – and it drove me crazy!
Instead of listening to those voices, I held her and cuddled her all the time, nursed for 13.5 months, and dove into the cloth diapering world. I wouldn’t have it any other way. My daughter is well loved, well adjusted, independent  and very happy. I know in my heart this is how it was meant to be. I didn’t read parenting books. I just followed my instincts, and that’s been the greatest gift I can give my children.

Evelyn lives in Canada (Maritimes). She is a stay at home mother to her two gorgeous earth children, Jake and Kayleigh, and angel baby Kaleb. Evelyn is the founder of the site Natural Gentle Parenting.