Monday, February 23, 2009

Attachment and Independence

I'm really excited about the arrival of this next baby. I feel like through pregnancy I get to know the baby a bit before she arrives. Zosia was a little ball of energy (shocking even the midwives with her movement and activity), and she lived up to her in-utero self in person-- her first few months she seemed frustrated just because she couldn't get around quite the way she wanted to. These days, she's happy as a clam now that she has full control and and can get to where she needs to go. This baby, on the other hand, has a zen-like calmness to her. She moves around here and there, but all in all she's mellow and happy to hang tight and relax. So, who knows, maybe number two inherited Ben's baby personality, which was totally calm and inactive. So I'm not feeling nervous about this baby or our ability to keep her happy and secure-- I know from experience that even difficult baby phases pass and steadfast love, nourishment, and getting to know your baby for whoever he or she is are the perfect combination for any baby.

However, from the moment I found out that I was having another baby, I have been worried about Zosia's ability to adjust. Partly, I just love being able to give her attention, watch her learn, and give her love. There's nothing better than being able to play in the bath with her and lose track of the time, have her be my "helper" in the kitchen while I'm cooking, or snuggle with her and a bed full of pillows. How will all of these simple pleasures that make up the bulk of my days be changed with a baby in tow? How will my heart be able to expand to accomodate another little person that I know I will love just as much as this first beloved child? And how will I do it without making Zosia feel like she's taking the back burner?

The other week I had an appointment with a midwife in the practice I've been using. To be totally honest, I hadn't "clicked" with any of the midwives that I had met with yet-- they were all skilled and educated, but I just never felt that personal connection. So when I met Lisa, who is this amazing mother of three children and just exudes maternal energy, I knew that I had found my woman. I immediately felt like I could talk to her about the things I've actually been thinking about and worrying about with this pregnancy-- which generally aren't the technical types of things because I've already been there and done that. And, as this experienced mother of several kids, she has the knowledge to help guide me in those types of personal issues.

I brought up my fears about the transition for Zosia-- and mentioned that I wasn't sure how to "prepare" Zosia for the transition. Should I start "cutting the cord" now so that Zosia isn't totally shocked when she doesn't have 24/7 access to me? And Lisa gave the most beautiful, and in retrospect, true answer. When kids are attached, secure, and totally filled up with love, they tend to seek out independence as they are ready. When kids are denied that attachment, pushed away, and forced to venture out in to the world before they're ready, that's when they cling and clammer for more attention. So, she said, basically keep doing what you've been doing. Fill her up with assurance, attention, and attachment. Give her all of the love that you can now, and continue to do that when the new baby comes-- read to her while you breastfeed, wear the baby in a sling while you play with her, and incorporate her in as many baby tasks as possible. As she's ready, she will seek out independence and do so with confidence and security. When I look at Zosia now and all of the milestones of independence she's already reached, I know in my heart that Lisa is right-- attachment and independence couldn't be a better match.

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