Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Camping Out in Mommyland

So Many Camps, so Many Opinions, Where to Pitch My Tent?

On my way to motherhood, I came upon many camps of thought surrounding birth. There was the "get an epidural" camp and the "induce your labor" camp, which were right next to the "opt for a c-section" camp. However, I knew that I didn't belong to any of these interventionalist camps. So I ventured over to the "just go natural" camp and found freedom in following nature's course.

After the birth of my son, I felt at ease having found my camp. I rested my eyes with my son nestled to my side and fell into a beautiful slumber. Little did I know that, upon waking from my two-hour nap, I would be looking upon many more camps of thought. The "are you going to breastfeed" camp came into view, and split before my very eyes into numerous camps such as the "just colostrum then quit" camp, the "exclusive breastfeeding" camp, "supplement with formula" camp, the "on demand" camp, to "pump" or "not to pump" and "return to work" camp...the questions and opinions were overwhelming

Thankfully I had read the La Leche League's Womanly Art of Breastfeeding book and, after a few bumpy months, found my ground again to "just go natural". I let my son tell me when he was hungry and how long he wanted to nurse. Again, I found freedom from worries, calculations, and schedules in following nature's course.

However, after a few trips to the pediatrician's office my eyes were opened to many more camps on the upcoming horizon. The "let him cry it out" camp emerged, along with the "vaccine, yes or no" camps, the "co-sleeping" camp which was at odds with the "you"ll never get him out of your bed" camp. "Attachment parenting"..."Detached parenting"..."semi-attached parenting"..."sears", "Ferber", "Dr. Jay"... Never in my dreams did I think there was so much controversy to raising a child. So many camps, so many opinions - where to pitch my tent?

Being a new mother had its own challenges, both physical and emotional. I just didn't have the time nor energy to take it all in and decide where to go. To make it easier for myself, I chose to find the easiest path and start hiking. So, I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and listened to my heart and instincts. I took baby steps and didn't second guess or question what I felt. I blocked out the chanting from the camps all around me and trekked on.

Amazingly, I found a map!

A map deep within myself. The blue-prints were there all along. I just had to close out all else and listen to my instincts, my heart. If I felt pains watching my baby cry and I wanted to pick him up, I did. I didn't look to a book for advice on what to do or listen to "experts." I just did it. If I felt uneasy having my nursling in a crib in the next room and couldn't sleep without him cuddled against me, I went and brought him to bed with me. I didn't brood over what the pediatrician told me about tried-and-true methods of the past 50 years. I just listened to my instincts. I followed my own nature's path.

After again finding "my" camp - a camp centered on listening to my own maternal instincts - I have found it easier to navigate my way through the camps of Mommyland. I know that the camps that I've come upon in the short 10 months since I've had my son are only the beginning. Already I can hear the chants from the "toilet-training" camp, the "home schooling" camps, and the "you're still doing THAT?!" camps...

Thankfully, I know now how to find my way through it all, and I'll take each hill and mountain as they come. The instincts are there and I just have to remind myself to trust them enough to show me the right path.

I wrote this long ago. It's appeared many times since online, originally in VegetarianBaby Magazine. Had to 'replay' it :)