Our Baby Class

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Building a Parenting Village

At our teacher training, we were asked to share why we wanted to teach Our Baby Class.  Here's my why.

I read the course descriptions, and the courses sounded like they aligned with my ideas about parenting.  I knew all about the awesomeness of babywearing, we practice baby led weaning, and there's no cry-it-out sleep training in my house.

I am a former elementary school teacher turned stay-at-home mom, and could really use just a little bit extra to help with our home preschool expenses and homesteading projects.

But here's why I feel like what I do is actually important.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, two amazing things happened. I took a Bradley childbirth class and I joined an online due date club on the website Diaper Swappers.

Here's why those things were so important.

In my Bradley class, I spent 12 weeks in intimate discussion with 6 other sets of expectant parents.  Bradley classes tend to attract parents who are over-researchers (like me), interested in breastfeeding, and highly motivated to do what's best for their child (more on that in a minute). I became very close with three of these moms, which has been a life saver. We have shared developmental milestones and swapped advice as our children have grown.

The Bradley Babies
Bradley Babies, Age 2
Two August Mamas and two August Babies (just shy of age 2).
In my due date club, we started out with 40-odd expectant moms.  Only three of us were first time moms, and the age range of the moms was wide enough that some of the moms have kids who are college-age.  This was awesome. We were all in the throes of pregnancy and newborn sleep deprivation together. Now, we all have toddlers transitioning from age two to age three, and over 150 children between us.  Some of us have "Post-August Babies."  We talk daily in our Facebook group, and try to meet in person whenever two of us end up in the same area.  The mentorship has been incredible.

Before I met these incredible women, I had a plan.  My baby was going to sleep in his/her own room after six months, and never ever sleep in my bed.  Baby would be on a strict schedule. I was going to breastfeed for six months.  I'd get a Moby wrap and a Baby Bjorn.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things.  I would still have been a good mom.

But, my life is richer.  I learned about a wider world of babywearing that allowed me to continue wearing my daughter into toddlerhood.  I learned about babywearing meetings from the August mamas.

One of our first back carries, with a DIY woven wrap
 I learned about the benefits of breastfeeding to a year and beyond and about baby led weaning.  When my son wouldn't stop crying and struggled to latch, one of these moms told me to look up lip and tongue tie.  That revision changed my son, and my life, for the better.  Because of that support, I found out that he was actually a really happy and easy-going baby (who didn't like to sleep and would rather play).

With both sets of moms, we've shared stories and parenting strategies.  When I struggled to process the birth of my second child, these women were there to listen.  When my baby wouldn't stop crying, the Bradley moms held him.  When I had postpartum depression, one of these moms sat with me on my front porch, day after day.

Our first woven wrap--from an August mama
I am fortunate to have these women and to have stumbled upon my parenting village, quite by accident.  But I hear all the time about women who don't.  I hear about women who only get a single view of parenting, when motherhood is filled with rich dimension.  Because I had this village behind me, I had the confidence to follow my own intuition as a parent. That confidence is something I want to share with other moms, the ones just starting this journey.

At MommyCon
I want to provide breastfeeding support for women who want to breastfeed and are struggling.  I want to support the women who just want to feed their babies without judgement. I want to provide instruction on safe babywearing and offer options so that babywearing is only limited by the wishes of the caregiver and child and not by the weight limits and comfort level of mainstream carriers. I want to support maternal instincts in not leaving a child to cry when a pediatrician says it's time to cry it out.  I want to share alternative ideas like baby led weaning instead of baby food and purees so that mothers know they have options. I want to provide a safe space for a mother to share that she hasn't gotten a good night's sleep since the baby was born. I want to give resources to mothers struggling with postpartum depression and let them know that they are not alone.  I want mothers to meet each other and compare notes on their darling little babies.

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