Beyond the Sling – A Book Review (Attachment Parenting)

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I remember seeing Mayim Bialik a few years ago on What Not to Wear.

She had this bohemian-bag-lady look going on, and she reminded me of some of the women in my family: quirky and intelligent. I learned that she has a PhD in neuroscience. Then, several years later she showed up in the Big Bang Theory as Amy Farrah Fowler! She’s my favorite character.

(And, did you see the Valentine’s Day episode? Squee!)

Beyond the Sling So, I’m a big fan of hers.

I was in my first trimester of my twin pregnancy when her book, Beyond the Sling, came out. I mainly bought it out of curiosity.

I really liked her no-nonsense approach, and the way she rejects the gimmicks and consumerism of parenting (as our culture would have you believe).

Essentials

According to Mayim, these are the true baby essentials

  • a smooth birth (drug-free, vaginal when possible)
  • milk (breastfeeding is natural, bottle feeding should mimic breastfeeding as much as possible)
  • to be held (baby wearing is a biggie)
  • nighttime parenting (no “crying it out” or sleep-training;  co-sleeping or bed-sharing is appropriate)
  • potty (also known as Elimination Communication)

And here is what baby DOESN’T need

  • all that stuff (can I get an amen from MoMs everywhere?)
  • unnecessary medical intervention (holistic remedies)
  • pressure (“teaching” before baby is ready)
  • punishment (positive parenting vs. traditional discipline)

(There’s also a section on what mommy does need, but that part wasn’t as interesting.)

Attachment Parenting

If you couldn’t tell by her idea of what baby does and doesn’t need, Mayim is an advocate of attachment parenting. I really didn’t know much about it before reading the book, and I definitely think it’s a good “primer” in the logic of attachment parenting.

What I appreciated most about the book was the simplicity of her statements, backed up by science. But she writes in “plain English,” so it is easy to understand.

Diaper-Free Baby??

I particularly found the section on Elimination Communication intriguing, if not a little wacky. (At the time, I didn’t yet know I was carrying twins. I seriously contemplated EC, then discarded the idea at the thought of two diaperless newborns, then reconsidered and had an interesting couple of months!)

Positive doesn’t Equal Permissive

I also liked her section on punishment or rather, not punishing. She plainly explains why conventional discipline strategies like time-outs or threats are not effective, or why they work “for the wrong reasons.” She gives lots of examples of things to do instead and stories from her own children.

I enjoyed reading how the ideology played out for her family. There are many things that wouldn’t work for my own family, or that would be more challenging with multiples, but it was still neat to read about.

Give Yourself Some Credit

As with any book, this is not the answer to all your questions, nor is it a “quick fix,” and Mayim is the first person to tell you. I love that one of her first messages is that “you already know the majority of what you need to know to be an incredible parent.” What first-time mom doesn’t need to hear that? Now, as a parent of multiples, we generally need a little more logistical guidance, but when it comes to the meaty heart of parenting (or maybe its tofu heart, since Mayim is vegan), we should trust ourselves to make good decisions for our families.

For me, this book was an eye-opener and was kind of a “gateway book” into the world of attachment parenting. I would recommend it to anyone with an open mind who enjoys reading pieces that are straight-forward and scientifically backed.

Mercedes is a toddler-wearing, breastfeeding MoM to boy/girl twins living in Scotland. She is the author of an ebook, Twin Manibreasto, and blogs at Project Procrastinot

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Stuck to Mommy

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My daughters returned home to me in Texas on Friday after a glorious 3 weeks enjoying the holidays with extended family in Washington and Oregon. Poor M caught the virus her father and grandmother suffered before her and came home with a fever. Things were looking a little worrying for twin sister J, but she’s managed to avoid the coughing, runny nose, fever and exhaustion.

Both girls insisted that they absolutely had to have Mommy snuggles all night Friday. Mommy could not sleep in her own bed. With M still feverish, I didn’t protest and took advantage of the opportunity to monitor her throughout the night. I just need to give up on keeping the girls in their room. If I’m giving in on their request that I sleep with them, I might as well do it a non-lofted bigger-than-twin bed. We are getting seriously squished as these girls of mine grow!

Saturday came and went, all the while M refusing to leave my side. If I sat, she sat next to me, thigh to thigh, arm to ribs, head to breast. If I stood, she hooked her hand in my pants waist and came with me. J wanted to be in the same room as me but she, usually the snugglier of my pair, wanted a typical amount of physical contact: the occasional hug, the odd moment tracing the lines on my palms, asking me to brush her hair a couple of times.

I thought that M might be needy because she didn’t feel well, or just because she’d missed me. After she let me release her for the period of her bath time, it occurred to me that at 7, she might know why she was so acting so needy.

“What’s up, M? Why such a snuggle bug?”
“I didn’t get enough snuggles while I was gone.”
“Oh? You know, you can always ask for snuggles. Grammy and Grampy and Daddy and Auntie love you as much as I do.”
“I know. I had four grownups for snuggles, but I snuggle you every day and them, it was more like every other day. And then I got sick and didn’t want to share my germs.”

I imagined my 7-year-old trying to emulate her grandmother and father in self-imposed isolation, protecting those around her from her germs, sacrificing the comfort of hugs to behave like a grownup. I was proud of her and yet it made it that much harder to know that my little girl had been sick without me there to care for her. A sick little girl needs her Mommy or at the very least her custodial parent. However you categorize it, M needed me.

As she fell asleep that Saturday night, one arm under me and one arm over me, breathing in my face and occasionally coughing, I was glad to know that my mature little girl thought me immune to her germs, able to give her all those missing snuggles while she still felt poorly. Usually, she gives a sleepytime squeeze before seeking personal space.

Sunday, and Monday too, she remained glued to me. By Monday, she allowed her sister in my lap, but only as long as I kept a hand on her head and a leg where she could rest hers. I had made a halfhearted effort to find childcare for the day, since school wouldn’t open until Tuesday, but the YMCA has been inconsistent in their full day care, M begged to stay home, and I wasn’t convinced J wasn’t still incubating the virus. I elected to work from home. Thank goodness that I have that option!
Snuggle bunnies from hdydi.com
This photo was taken with my iPad resting on my stomach. M is the farther child, but her legs are hooked over mine. She insisted that I type one-handed, allowing her sister next to me only as long as I kept a hand on her head.
How do your children seek comfort when they don’t feel well? Do they seek out one parent over the other?
Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.
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