Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Attachment Parenting

At the risk of sharing an unpopular view, I don't subscribe to all the principles of Dr. Sear's philosophy of Attachment Parenting. I like the idea of it, but the logistics are a little tricky for me. Provide Consistent and Loving Care...that one's easy. Use a Nurturing Touch...I've got that one covered too. Positive Discipline...won't need to use that one for a while, yet, but I know the time will come.

I'm having trouble with some of the others.

Those of you that know me know that I am doing my darndest to exclusively nurse these babies, but it's tough. I've settled for a combination of nursing, bottle-feeding expressed milk, and supplementing with a bit of 22-calorie formula. My best guess is that they get about 80% breast milk, 20% formula per day. I'm pretty pleased with that, considering I almost gave up on breastfeeding completely the week the babies came home from the NICU. Mothers that nurse their multiples exclusively are my heroes. My mom is one of those people. I cannot even wrap my brain around how that is done. I keep reminding myself that my twins were born 9 weeks early, and it would be easier if they were term babies, but maybe that's just how I rationalize my decision to supplement. Who knows. Either way, the babies are growing like crazy, and I have to be at peace with my decision, because I know it's what's best for my mental health at this point.

Let's talk about co-sleeping. I was totally on-board with this idea before the babes came home. I purchased the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper and had visions of the babies sleeping soundly and safely right next to me. In my mind, it would be just like it was in the NICU: the babies would sleep for three or four hours, wake up to feed, and drift peacefully back to sleep. That vision lasted for one sleepless night. The babies hardly slept, and when they did, they were grunting and groaning so much that I couldn't sleep. I spent a few weeks experimenting with sleeping locations: having the babies sleep in their cribs, in bed with me, in their bouncy seats downstairs with me on the couch, in their Pack and Plays, etc... What I found was that there was no way I could sleep if the babies were within a few feet of me. These days the babies sleep in their cribs*, and I sleep in my room with the monitor turned on low low low and covered with a sweater since the slightest noise wakes me up. That way, I can hear them if they cry, but (hopefully) not if they are just grunting.

The one principle that I REALLY wanted to get into was baby-wearing. My husband purchased this really great-looking sling for me for Christmas before the babies were born. The problem is, I'm having trouble using it. The babies don't seem to be at all comfortable in there...it causes their necks to turn in a strange angle, and they cry. I can't seem to get them positioned correctly at all! We also have the Baby Bjorns, and the babies do seem to like them, but what do you do if both babies are crying? If I had one baby, this would be perfect, but this seems so much tougher with two.

Not that I want them to get bigger quickly, because I am really enjoying this time, but it will be nice when they can hold their heads up. I'm looking forward to using the Exersaucers and Bumbo Seats as a little diversion.

*Gavin will sleep in his crib from about 10pm-3am, after that, he's done and wants to be downstairs. Fun, fun. I usually wind up putting him in his bouncy seat and trying to catnap on the couch. Charlotte sometimes sleeps in her crib the entire night, from about 10pm-6am! If she wakes up to eat, she will go right back into her crib when she's done.


  1. Exactly.

    (There must be a more eloquent way to put that - something about the difference between theory and reality, and the evilness of guilt-tripping mothers with unrealistic ideas, and the value of the do-what-works-for-your-babies philosophy...but anyway - exactly.)


    Dr. Sears had me in a psychotic funk for a while. I still value the ideals, and do what I can, but, I mean, really. Give me a break. Check out his attachement parenting book. There may be 3 or 4 whole pages on twins. The Baby Book? 1 page that can be summed up as "good luck with that."

    You are doing better BF than I did. I didn't get to 90% BF until 4 months, and I didn't even have to contend with preemies.

    I babywear a little bit, but I LOVE me a stroller. And my back thanks the stroller makers.

    Co-sleeping became really useful at about 4 months when sleep was dreadful and they weren't mobile enough to try and hurl themselves off the edge of the bed. The co-sleeping is now an overpriced changing table. I never recommend it to people.

    I swear, someone (not me) needs to write a book called: "Attachment Parenting Twins: Do What You Can and Don't Stress About the Rest or How Your Baby Will be Fine"

  3. It sounds to me like you are doing great!
    I feel that AP is more of a philosophy than a strict list of rules you must follow. If you are following your instinct and meeting babies needs then you are right on track.
    Dr. Sears even says in his book that if the family bed isn't working for your baby then you should find a different arrangement. Some babies and parents just sleep better apart.
    As far as baby wearing goes, maybe you would do better with a different carrier, such as a Mei Tai. However, you will still only be able to wear one at a time comfortably.
    Books and "experts" are good for ideas and some information, but us mommies need to trust ourselves more and ditch the guilt.

  4. Got here via Stacie's...

    Truly i don't understand how anyone could realistically do all the AP things with twins. I agree with Stacie's comment -- we need a different book, y'all!

    It sounds like you are doing absolutely great with the breastfeeding, by the way!

  5. You are awesome. I had all the intentions of being a Sears devotee too, and by about 10 weeks into it with twin preemies, I was ready to hurl his book at the next person who claimed to have a clue what it was like to actually mother twins. I was even on an AP e-mail list once where a couple of the women were claiming that pumping and feeding breast milk was a substandard way to feed a baby, and that what I should really do is be willing to tandem feed in public, and then when I'm home, just "take to my bed" with the babies and have people just wait on me, since twins were being shortchanged in the bonding department. Wouldn't that have been nice? What really helped was one day when my DH was sitting with me in the kitchen looking at the back of the Sears Attachment Parenting book and he said, "Why are you letting this guy tell you what to do? His kids all look miserable!" I laughed so hard, I peed. Then I got over it. My kids are fine (and for whatever reason, they DO look miserable.) My boys sleep well (and you know, the AMOUNT of sleep they (and I) get is actually more important than exactly how they get there, IMO), they eat, the play, they love. I value attachment and connection too, but following Sears's exact prescription is not the only way to get there, it's just one of the very hardest for a lot of people. Check this post out for a really awesome anthropological perspective on this topic.

  6. Soory - that link didn't quite work. It should be:

  7. It wasn't long after I got my girls home that I realize no books were going to help. I'm about to sell my hardly-used except for nap separation co-sleeper.

    I want to add that in at least one way, moms of preemies have an advantage over moms of full-terms multiples. My friend was thankful her twins were in NICU -- healthy for the most part -- for a couple weeks. She was able to heal from her c-section and get to know them while still having nursing support.

    I had none of that. I was sent home after only three days with intense pain and really was limited in what I felt like doing and could do -- including bfding. I didn't have any support and quit trying to breastfeed after three weeks because it just wasn't working for me. I certainly don't wish NICU on anyone, but I could have definitely used a little more time to prepare for the major hard work I was in for. Thanks for writing this post ... good luck with your twins.

  8. I suffered lots of mommy guilt because I couldn't live up to my own AP ideals when my twins were born. I joined a yahoogroup - APmultiples - and it helped to realize I wasn't the only one out there who couldn't do it all. And I lost my claim to being militant breastfeeder when I had to supplement. I have so much admiration and respect for moms of multiples & I wish we all knew starting out that we didn't have to be so hard on ourselves.

  9. I don't do books, just intuition. So no guilt if I cannot live up to other's expectations. I believe that if you have been treated well as a baby yourself you will treat your baby the 'right way' too. So they'll grow up to become healthy and happy adults. What else would you want?

    About the slings: You might want to give your sling another try though. Try positioning your baby diagonally, then they'll be more comfortable. The babybjorn didn't work for us either, maybe when they are older, 5 months or so. Up till then they just bump their face all the time.

  10. You could be me....EXACTLY. If we had a conversation it would be puntcuated with "Me too!''s" and "I know!'s"

  11. JUST THE THING I WAS LOOKING FOR!!! I've been taking this course in regards to Attachment Parenting and literally started loosing my mind. I thought on trying to do everything by myself and be with my twins full-time... I got really frustrated and most of all, stressed out on the fact that maybe I wasn't creating enough a bond with both of them and maybe their personalities or else would be affected by me not being there ALL the time... it's just not possible to follow everything the same way with twins. Thanks all and I do agree 100%
    BTW my twins are 5 months and a half and I only BF for 41 days... I see myself as a hero jeje

  12. This is a few year's on, but I am sure your babies are thriving with such a loving Mum!

    I have been trying to follow baby led style parenting, but it is tough with twins! In the end, I have found that 1 of them is pretty independent and routine driven, while the other seems to respond better to cosleeping/carrying etc. I do feel like baby 1 is being short changed though :{

    I have been reading loads of online stuff from Dr Sears, and what strikes me is the underlying insinuation that parenting is still the woman's job. The suggestion is that the mother should put her life on hold to be the primary caregiver... this I have an issue with. For me it is a case of the "natural" argument once again being used to motivate patriarchal practices for the benefit of men.

  13. You ARE a hero. I pumped for 9 weeks with twins in the NICU. The last 4 weeks my milk production dropped dramatically. No one understands how hard it is to help tube feed/bottle feed AND put two babies to the breast AND pump while your babies are in the hospital. I believe I heard something about stress affecting milk production, did I not???? I got to the point that I just couldn't make enough milk that could be pumped out my a mechanical baby. Now that the girls are home we "breast play" when they want to...whatever comes out, comes out, and I don't worry about amount because I have given in to supplementing with formula.

  14. I totally agree with everything you said,thank you for saying it!! My twins were constantly grunting and snorting all night too, and I sleep so much better now that I have moved them out of our bedroom and into their nursery crib. Still have to get up every 2-3 hours to bf, but atleast I can actually sleep in between now! I also feel that a lot of the bfeeding advice out there i completely wrong when it comes to twins, I think bfeeding twins is WAY harder than formula feeding. I have tried everything to produce enough milk fo them, but I still have to supplement about 2 bottles a day each, or they scream with hunger or stay attached to the boob 24/7. We totally should not feel guilty, we as moms have to sleep/eat/bathe too, and with twins I think that inevitably means my babies are going to have to be by themselves/in a swing/with a pacifier/and maybe cry for 5 minute while I finish going to he bathroom!!! ;-) Only other twin Moms understand!!

    1. Please don't feel guilty, ever! Breastfeeding twins, even if it's only AN OUNCE a day, is a MAJOR accomplishment, and you should feel very, very proud! I think you are amazing!!!!


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