Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Pros and cons

I went to a 'natural baby fair' last Saturday.  I'm not entirely sure how I became a 'natural parent'.  My  first baby was in disposable nappies, was combination fed, slept in a cot in her own room from 5 months, was traditionally weaned and travelled in a mammoth-sized outward-facing pushchair.  My second baby was born at home, wears fluffy cloth nappies, is breastfed, sleeps in my bed, will eat solids when he's ready (hopefully!) and travels in wraps.  Evidently some kind of brainstorm happened to me between children.

The advantages and disadvantages of natural parenting are therefore clear to me, and are best expressed by two simple snapshots: me at the beginning and the end of a trip into town.

Here I am as I arrive in town with the two children.  I have the baby in a wrap on my front, cosy and contentedly asleep.  The toddler toddles eagerly by my side.  I am carrying a simple, light cloth bag on my back, containing some cloth nappies.  I haven't got any bottles of sterilised water weighing me down, and I don't need a bottle warmer, formula or a travel steriliser.  If I get caught out and spend longer in town than I meant to, I won't need to worry about running out of milk for the baby, or needing to wash up an empty bottle to use again.  I don't have to unfold a cumbersome pushchair.  I'm tripping along with a smile on my face and the wind in my hair. I am free!  I am happy!  I am a natural parent!

Now the second snapshot.  Here I am on my way back to the car with the two children.  I now have a baby in a wrap on my front, and a mardy toddler who lay down in the street and refused to move strapped to my back in a mei tai.  This leaves me without shoulders for my little cloth nappy bag, which is dangling from one elbow.  From the other elbow is hanging an extra wetbag full of heavy, soaked cloth nappies and wipes.  As I don't have a pushchair to put my shopping in, I'm also carrying three or four other bags.  Underneath the pretty wrap, my shirt is covered in a mixture of nearly every bodily fluid possible, including milk, regurgitated milk, dribble, sweat and some other as yet undefined dampness in the baby's nappy area that I shall have to investigate later.  I'm plodding along, alternating between my cross voice (aimed at the toddler screeching on my back) and my soothing voice (aimed at the baby waking up and grizzling on my front).  I look, smell and sound like a schizophrenic Cerberus.

By the time I've got back to the car and released my other two heads into their car seats, however, I'm a free and happy natural parent again.  I didn't have to spend half an hour finding the catch on the buggy and then pinch my fingers on it as I folded it up and tried to squeeze it into my car.  When I get home, I will need to ditch the wash bag into the washing machine, but I won't need to empty, scrub and sterilise lots of bottles or pour unused formula down the sink while pound signs flash before my eyes.  The smile is back on my face and the wind is back in my hair.

Just don't come near me until I've had a shower.

1 comment:

Mdivgirl said...

Ha! This will never be us, pros or cons. With Stephen doing a whole lot of the nappy changing, it's the pricy disposable nappies all the way. And it's not like we had a choice about formula with Jonathan. However, I know what you mean. And I would have at least brought the single stroller, if not the double. One or the other can ride. However, Vivienne is definitely more a "naturally" raised baby than her brother, since she will only sleep with me, will only breastfeed when she's with me, and I finally found a sling that works for us. Some of it's about figuring things out the second time around. Other things, like the sleeping, is a capitulation since when there's two of them, the path of least resistance in the road most travelled. And of course, some of it (like breastfeeding) was the adoption. I didn't appreciate the fact that someone else trained my first baby to sleep beautifully by four months fully at the time, but I sure do now!