Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We're a Lot Like You

Welcome to the March 2012 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Parenting With Special Needs
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how we parent despite and because of challenges thrown our way. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



It's kind of funny, but the topic left me struggling for a bit - after all, special needs parenting is a pretty big theme here. But it's a pretty broad subject, all things considered, and I wondered what would really be of interest to the carnival readers - after all, while we strive for following natural and attachment parenting ideals, we make a lot of trade-offs, and I often feel like the things that my children need make us outcasts amongst our more naturally minded friends.

And so I thought that maybe that's the thing I ought to write about. One of the primary tenants of Natrual Parenting is that while you keep the ideals in mind, you also strive for balance and for doing what works best for your family. No two families are alike, so Natural Parenting often looks a little different from family to family, and ours is no different.

We feed with love and respect...even if it is a tube feeding, even when the only thing a child has eaten in days is cheerios and prescription formula.

I pumped breastmilk...for as long as it seemed a viable option for both Acorn and Leaf, as long as it wasn't getting in the way of actually doing the things they needed.

We have very attached kids...who happen to be attached not just to us, but to several of their nurses as well.

We reasearch our medical options and choose carefully...we give elderberry syrup for viral illnesses along with albuterol; we see a chiropractor and numerous regular doctors too.

We babywear....just not all the time, because it's hard to babywear while carrying 75 pounds of ventilator and oxygen.

We use cloth diapers...much to the horror of some of our medical staff. We've used washable cloth options for other disposable things too, like in place of gauze under g-tubes and trachs.

We recycle....including the plastic syringes and feeding pump bags and the cardboard that everything seems to arrive packed in.

When the weather's nice, we get outside...even if that means hauling the ventilator and oxygen to the park.

We discipline gently...even when the other parents we know whose children have similar medical issues think we must be crazy to not spank, yell, or do time out.

Every day here is one of learning...even if some days the extent of the learning is 4 hours of therapist appointments, and even if our idea of milestones isn't quite the same as everyone else's.

And we may be among the very few families who've had doctors advise not to let our children cry it out, which we just smiled about and said, "oh, that's probably a good idea."

Really, we're a lot like most other families. We just come with a lot more equipment and doctors than even a mainstream family. But it doesn't make us bad Natural parents....just a little extra special.


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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 13 with all the carnival links.)

17 comments:

  1. I loved this post - I think in a hospital situation with the pressure of rules and regulations it could be easy to conform to their ways, allowing the professionals to make your decisions for you (ie. disposable nappies, no babywearing) You have managed to hold strong to your parenting beliefs and follow your instincts!

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  2. Rachel @ Lautaret BohemietMarch 13, 2012 at 12:48 PM

    Wow. I commend you guys for having the strength and courage to practice so many traditions and ideals that important to you, despite having to do so much of it in hospital settings under an (assumably) large number of outside opinions and such. That is incredible. I think natural living and attaching parenting can be beautiful things under normal circumstances, but they are even more powerful and inspiring when babies have special needs and can so tangibly benefit from those choices. I can't imagine anyone thinking you are "bad". You are inspiring!

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  3. Indeed! You are not BAD natural parents at all, but the best kind! We are all just doing our best to uphold our ideals and find balance. It sounds like you are finding that balance that's just right for your family despite your challenges. It is truly commendable!

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  4. Erica @ChildOrganicsMarch 13, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    *hugs* mama! We tend to be so good at making ourselves feel guilty, don't we? We do the best we can with what we've got. I remember feeling guilty about having my daughter in disposable diapers when she was in the NICU. How foolish is that?! Sounds to me like your family has struck a perfect balance and you are doing what works to the benefit of your whole family. Kudos to you!

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  5. No wonder you didn't participate in the "I'm a Natural Parent . . . But" carnival last month, it sounds like you have it covered ;) Seriously, you are doing an amazing job of parenting naturally, even though it may not always be easy. Thank you for sharing!

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  6. Oh this reminded me of my own post about keeping natural even under "special circumstances. Good for you for practicing the things you believe in!!

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  7. It's so great that you have kept to your personal ideals, in less then ideal circumstances. One of the hospitals near here recently started using cloth for some of the things they used to use disposable products, like on the exam table, and have found it actually cuts down on disease transmission. Maybe you will inspire your medical community.

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  8. It is great to see how even with extra equipment you still can be a natural and attached parent. I love that the Drs have encouraged you to NOT have your little ones CIO.

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  9. You are incredible. I totally am in awe of how natural you've remained despite the extra equipment and challenges. I really love your post — thanks for sharing!

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  10. Thank you for this post! What a great tribute to your beautiful children, and to trying to live naturally amongst the challenges. All children are special, and this glimpse into your daily life was beautiful.

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  11. Coming over from the Carnival, and I can relate to much of what you say. Do you find that in general the medical community is a little...against a more natural approach? I see that especially with my daughter with Down syndrome.
    Anyway, if you get a chance, stop by and say hi.

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  12. Thanks for sharing your perspective. It sounds like you're doing the very best you can, and you sound really level. <3

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  13. Wow! Just wow! You are an amazing mother and have an amazing family. Not everyone could be as positive about the challenges you face. In fact, you do not even make these sound like challenges. This is huge as your children will not grow up thinking that their situations are a burden or a stress on you.

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  14. We have our "but" moments too...like antibiotics first for infections, and all the horrible drive-thru food we ate while Leaf was in the hospital. But I'm learning to let go of those things, and focus on doing the best we can do around here, rather than trying to be perfect, you know? :)

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  15. We find a lot of the medical community to be against a more natural approach on many fronts. Diapers have been a huge source of derision, even from one of our favorite pediatricians. Our soon-to-be-former PT/OT office actually has a policy that we can't see a chiropractor while seeing them. Tea tree oil has been a life safer when it comes to yeast infections around trach and g-tube, and everyone looks at me like I'm crazy, because "the only thing" that works is nystatin...and the list goes on and on.

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  16. To be fair, the only reason we got that direction is that both have had such severe lung damage from prematurity that prolonged crying is detrimental to their overall status (though it's something Acorn has outgrown and Leaf will outgrow), crying raises the level of carbon dioxide in the blood of kids with severe BPD instead of lowering it the way it does for the rest of us.

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  17. It probably won't make a lot of difference here, but we have convinced our home hospital to allow us to use cloth in the PICU, even when we're weighing diapers to figure out overall fluid output. Acorn reacts to disposables, so they figured if we were changing his diapers anyway, they wanted the least number of problems to treat :)

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