Finding the Right Tools for Natural Parenting

Joy

My “baby” girl turns two in June. I’ve packed her baby gear away as she’s outgrown it, not for “the next one,” like I did with my son, but for the time when it felt right to say goodbye. With several friends expecting little ones soon (Hooray!), the time has come. As happy as I am to share our gear, I’ve been a little emotional saying goodbye. The baby years were amazing (exhausting, but amazing!), and getting things ready to go has brought back a lot of memories.

When we first learned we were expecting our son 5+ years ago, my husband Bill and I thought we were ready for it all. We bought the books, signed up for the emails…we couldn’t wait to be parents. But as we read things and as we made appointments, our eyes were opened to a whole new world of questions. Did we want an OBGyn or a midwife? Epidural or drug-free birth? Formula or breast milk? The questions went on and on and, with each answer, I surprised myself by how much of a natural mom I wanted to be.

Visiting a midwife, Hypnobirthing, and breastfeeding all sounded like good ideas to us, but I had even more questions. What had it been like for others? Would nursing continue when I went back to work? What else was out there? Not a lot of our friends had done one or any of these things, but I was lucky to have my best friend, Judy, who had. She was – and still is – my go-to mama for all advice. From there, we built an incredible group of friends who gave us the “tools” we needed to become the parents we are today.

The Baby Sling
The other day, I pulled out my baby sling and thought of Katie, a friend from book club. A new mom herself, she missed my shower because her daughter was sick. She planned to give it to me at our next meeting, but my little man decided to come early and I was in labor at home instead. She stopped by after the meeting and, while we laughed at how surreal her visit was (“I can’t believe you’re in labor right now!”), her words of encouragement gave me the confidence boost I needed. I would give Hypnobirthing all I had, I would be open to breastfeeding and, if I was confused, I would make sure I got help…it would all work out. And it did!

A few weeks after my son was born, Katie’s gift became more than just a gift; it was a godsend. My little man always wanted to be held and I wasn’t getting anything done. Emotional and willing to try anything, I popped in the DVD and learned all I could about this big piece of fabric. An hour later I had a happy baby and a cleaner house. Baby wearing wasn’t just for a happy baby…it was for a happy mom!

The Pump
A few months ago, I said a very happy goodbye to my pump. It was a necessary evil for this working mom. Thankfully, I had an amazing team of “coaches,” who brought a lot of love and laughter to my love/hate relationship with it.

Judy was visiting the day my pump arrived and, with a great sense of humor, she provided general directions. A few weeks later I knew how to pump, I just couldn’t remember how to put the pieces together. Confused and almost in tears, I called Judy, but got her husband Seth instead. I’m not sure if it was the sound of my voice or just that he had come to expect crazy questions from me (“What side of the thing that attaches to the cone attaches to the bottle?”), but when I asked Seth for help he stepped up to the plate.

The Car Adapter
As if becoming new parents wasn’t enough for us, Bill and I moved from Boston to Maine when our son was five months old. The transition brought extra-long commutes and interesting circumstances for this leche mama. Through it all, our college friend and pumping guru Shawnee, who also worked at my new company, offered great advice. But still I was tired and just not sure the move and nursing would work. Shawnee then shared the greatest tool ever invented for a pumping, crazy commuting mom – a breast pump car adapter. In working mom fashion, she sent it to me via interoffice mail. There was hope!

Almost six years later, Bill and I went from the couple who wondered if natural options would work to a fabulous “natural” family of four. We may not have done everything right, but we embraced everything we did. We’ve also been surprised by how many “tools” we’ve shared with other parents. It’s been an amazing experience!

I’m beyond excited to be a part of The Other Baby Book community and am so happy a resource like this is out there. I look forward to learning from all of you and hope to share some great things too.

What are/were some of your favorite tools?

Kristen looks forward to a much less crowded crawl space, but has started quoting her very wise mother, “No matter how old you are, you’ll always be my baby.” She’s confident Will and Joy will roll their eyes just as much as she used to.

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4 thoughts on “Finding the Right Tools for Natural Parenting”

  1. I lived in my Moby Wrap. I put it on when I got dressed in the morning, like it was part of my outfit, you know? We mostly use the Ergo now for babywearing purposes, now that my son is a toddler. I also found re-useable organic cotton nursing pads indispensible for those early weeks. And at least ona very comfortable nursing bra! What I didn’t find to be a good tool for us: the Boppy.

  2. The second time around the Moby was my FAVORITE thing and definitely a daily accessory. 🙂 I was going to mention it and my friend Kenda, who shared that and her love of Bob strollers with me, but the blog was getting a little too long. (THANK YOU KENDA!)

    I could never find the right nursing pillow! I tried the Boppy, My Breast Friend and none of them worked. Instead, I used “the peapod,” which I think came from Bed, Bath and Beyond. My mom got it for me when I was pregnant to make sleeping more comfortable, but it said it also worked as a nursing pillow. I love it as much as Joy loves her blankie, it’s the one thing I refuse to pass on!

  3. Kristen, I am always here for anything and you have helped me too! Can’t wait to tell Seth he is the breast pump expert – ha!

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