The Crucial First Three Years
Comments on the First Three Years
I am a working mom (soon to make whatever sacrifices I must to retire, as I read more and more studies that children don't do as well when the primary caretaker is someone other than a parent) who has used this method of child spacing with great success. I nurse my daughter on demand when I am at home and at night (no getting up for late night feedings, just flip over and go back to sleep!), and pump once during the day at work and so far my periods haven't returned. My daughter is 22 months old and I haven't had a period since 1997! For anyone who is working and wants to use this method, I would recommend combining it with fertility awareness because obviously the chances of fertility returning are greater when you're not with your child day in and day out. The knowledge that constant mother-baby togetherness causes this natural child spacing leads me to greater belief that mothers and baby are biologically designed to be together at all times, and logic tells me (as studies confirm) that if I try to do otherwise, harm comes to both of us.
January 2006 update: I had 27 months of infertility after each of my first two children and am in month 14 after my third. My gynecologist said I have all but eliminated any chance of breast, ovarian, or endometrial cancer (because I've had only 6 cycles in 8 years) by adopting this time-tested lifestyle. A woman who follows the standards of natural mothering closely (especially nursing while sleeping) typically receives 20-30 months of postpartum infertility. A more modern-style nurser averages 14 months, decreasing with more separation, limited comfort nursing, and longer nursing intervals.
I want to thank you in particular for a point you made through your article. You put into words what my motherly instinct tells me is true-that being a stay-at-home mom is all about bonding. Bonding-period-that's it. Everything else is icing.
I find this extra profound because I am a 25-year-old college grad who quit work to stay at home. I have met many other mothers (usually older) who have done the same, yet somehow their talk always centers around fear of inadequacy. Conversations sound something like this: "Being a mom isn't natural for me," or "I know so many people who love kids more than I do, Couldn't they take better care of my child?" or "I just don't know if I can teach my child enough. I mean I don't know a foreign language or anything," or "The local pre-school accepts kids as early as 18 months. Does that mean I can't provide enough?" or "To be a good mom, I need to be involved in every play group, story time, and kinder-class that's offered within 20 miles."
Yes, I admit these are my paraphrases, but this list of irrational, culturally induced comments goes on and on. I always speak my mind, but now I have a concise and simple way to defend motherhood for its own good. Thanks to you, my #1 goal each morning since my son was born (18 months ago) has been to bond. "A,B,Cs" and "1,2,3s" are a byproduct. The most important thing is that we wake up together; smile, talk, nurse; we're inseparable all day; smile, talk, nurse; go to sleep; smile and nurse all night; and start the new day the same way. Your teachings (cross-check method, ecological breastfeeding, the family bed) are helping me form a trusting relationship-a bond that ties us-that could never have been established otherwise.
Thanks to all of the positive input I've received from you, I've been able to avoid this mind trap that so many women are stuck in. Society bombards us with the idea that if we are not "super-mommy" then we're not good enough. Thanks to you, I've learned that if I am "bonding-mommy" then I'm everything! I can just see the comic strip now: "Bonding-mommy-she's ready to nurse discreetly in a moment's notice, she's always willing to give eye contact and an encouraging word, and she can leap laundry baskets in a single bound!
Unsure whether I would ever breastfeed, I happened upon an old used copy of Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing during my first pregnancy. After I read about the benefits of attachment parenting from you, I jumped in and have never looked back! It changed my life. Rather than go back to work as an attorney, I chose to stay home with my sons (now 6 and 3) and we are now expecting our third baby. I have found plenty of adult stimulation as a La Leche League leader and childbirth educator! I feel like you started it all and I am so grateful.
I was a physical therapist when our first child was born. I had gone back to work just a bit part-time, after 6 full months at home, seeing patients between nursings. It didn't take long for me to realize that my real vocation was home. I looked within towards priorities and I was able to reflect on what we actually needed versus what we thought we needed. I also was able to grow in trust with the Lord that when we do His Will, He provides. Needless to say, 7 children later, I am thoroughly an advocate of living out our primary vocation which the Lord has called us to in motherhood. It has been the best for our family and has allowed me the honor of teaching the children at home, knowing they are getting the best possible catechesis in the Faith.