Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Responsive Parenting

The first word that comes to mind when I think of attachment parenting is "responsive". I want to respond quickly and compassionately to my child. Since I'm just at the beginning of my adventures in parenting, this has mostly meant breastfeeding so far. What do you do when an infant wakes up crying? Breastfeed! What do you do when your baby is hurt? Breastfeed! Scared? Breastfeed! Tired? Breastfeed! But for me, responding to my baby appropriately also means ignoring everyone else - the glares, the stares, and the giggles. I'm transgender and I breastfeed because it is what my baby expects and deserves.

Bottle of injectible testosterone
My infant doesn't know I'm transgender.

At this point in his short life, my child has no idea that I'm any different from any other breastfeeding parent. He doesn't know that I was born female but took testosterone to transition. He doesn't know that I had chest surgery and that's why we have to nurse using a supplemental nursing system. He doesn't know that while he has two dads, most other kids have a mom and a dad.

What does my baby know? He feels that he wants to be held a lot, although this is beginning to change as he explores the world more and more. He knows that when he nurses, much of his body touches a warm, caring adult body and he is safe. He feels that he wants to suck, A LOT.

So I have to respond selectively to the people around me, which is not always easy. I'm ultra-sensitive to my boy. I try to breastfeed him when he gives early signs that he may want to nurse. I am insensitive to the man in the restaurant who is staring as I latch on my little guy. If I'm feeling brave, I look up and smile at him, but mostly I pay attention to positioning my baby and the SNS. I don't respond to the woman who stares at me or the teenagers who point and giggle. I'm busy. If these other folks are hungry, I'm pretty sure they can go off and find their own food without my help, but my baby is depending on me. He trusts me.

I will always remember the funny looks I've received, while my baby may or may not remember breastfeeding depending on his age when we stop. But he will get through his toddlerhood and early childhood with a strong sense of attachment. He knows that I will always respond.

This post is part of the Attachment Parenting is for Everyone blog carnival, hosted by Attachment Parenting International. Learn more by visiting API Speaks, the blog of Attachment Parenting International.

18 comments:

  1. "If these other folks are hungry, I'm pretty sure they can go off and find their own food without my help, but my baby is depending on me. He trusts me."

    Wonderful. I love your attitude. Jacob is so lucky to have you.

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  2. I found your blog through a friend on Facebook, and I'm so glad I did! It's so clear to me that the emotions and experiences of parenthood are largely universal, and the way you write about attachment and responsiveness here illustrates that perfectly. Thank you so much for sharing your breastfeeding and parenting journey with us!

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    1. Glad you like the blog, Amy! I love what you say about the universality of emotions in parenthood. I'm reading Mayim Bialik's new book rightt now, and she explains that it is the hormones of our neurobiology that make all this work. People really tried very hard to get away from their parenting instincts over the last couple centuries, but the truth is that our innate knowledge is always going to be with us, whether we listen to it or not.

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  3. Yay to attachment parenting (AP)!

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  4. You are incredible! From an attachment parenting family to another you are an inspiration! I just came across your blog as Emma posted it on Facebook and I am part of the HM4HB community (Senegal and now Ottawa area) and have to say it is amazing, you are amazing.

    Keep up the fantastic job!

    From an,

    Attachment parenting, breastfeeding, baby wearing, bedsharing, cloth diapering....momma.

    Selena

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    1. Hi Selena! Nice to "meet" you online. Thanks so much for reading - I'm glad you like the blog. HM4HB is AMAZING - the group has been essentially feeding my boy for the last year and we are so grateful. Thank you for helping the group do its work!!

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  5. Here from PHD in Parenting, this post brought tears to my eyes. You are such a good parent, and your son is blessed to have you. Cherish each other and all these moments together!

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    1. Thank you so much - you are very kind. I will take your advice as I know this precious time will go by incredibly fast.

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  6. Annie @PhdinParenting pointed me to your blog.

    As I commented on her post, I have to give you SO much credit for nursing with an SNS. I did it with my first child, and it was no walk in the park - and I'm cisgendered, without altered breast tissue, and with plenty of support. I can't imagine having nursed for as long as I did without those privileges. You must be such a strong person.

    Thank you for blogging honestly; it's so good to see different perspectives on breastfeeding, and parenting in the world.

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    1. Yay, I love hearing from others who have used an SNS! So challenging, but so rewarding, isn't it?

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  7. Hey I found you through PhdinParenting and I just wanted to let you know if I ever sat near you on a bus and you were nursing I would sit right next to you and tell you how unbelievably awesome, and brave, and strong you are and how lucky your son is to have you. But since I will unfortunately never go to Canada, I will tell you that here. I can admit I would probably take a glance and look because I am curious. I have never seen an SNS in use!

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    1. Thanks, Carol, for your cyber encouragement! It is much appreciated. I do hope you make it to Canada some day though - it's a pretty neat place in a lot of ways.

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  9. I love this, all of this. 'Responsiveness' is one of the most appealing terms I've seen to describe attachment parenting. And I'm in awe of the effort that you are putting in to breastfeed your baby. That is one lucky child. Also, thank you. Thank you for opening up a window to your family. This one-of-two-mums appreciates it.

    Gratefully,

    http://titchandboofer.wordpress.com

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    1. Hey, so nice to hear from another queer family! Thanks for your support and encouragement. Off to check out your blog :)

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  10. this is amazing. i don't have the nerve to nurse in public. i even feel ashamed to still be breastfeeding at 7 months which is entirely normal but society makes you feel like it isn't. i feel enlightened and encouraged reading your blog. i can't imagine what you must overcome to nurse your baby, especially in public, and I'm amazed at your strength and bravery and ashamed at my lack thereof!! thanks for writing this blog,

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