Though there were a number of other movies I’d have preferred in the summer of 2010, at Shonnie’s admonition, we went to see Babies, a documentary that showed babies being raised in four different cultures around the world. And perhaps I wasn’t conscious of it at the time, but I think this film helped us to begin defining our role as parents.
From the beginning, Shonnie has been the prime mover in the process of birthing and parenting our child—choosing and interacting with our physicians, connecting with our doula, enrolling us in a birthing class, touring the hospital, participating in a breastfeeding class, preparing our home for baby’s arrival, buying books and CDs for us to learn from, asking questions of other mothers and much, much more.
Shonnie’s instincts, intelligence and intentionality led us to many conscious choices, some of which lie outside the mainstream of our culture, including:
- As natural a childbirth as possible
- Nursing baby for at least the first year and likely beyond
- Maintaining physical contact between one of us (primarily Shonnie) and our baby from the moment she was born until she desired some separation
- Sleeping with baby every night
- Learning what Gracelyn’s cries mean—hungry, sleepy, over-stimulated, potty time, closer physical connection, etc.—and patiently responding to them in that moment
- Elimination communication—eliminating diapers by becoming attuned to Gracelyn’s cues and giving her the opportunity to use the potty when needed
- Sign language so that Gracelyn can communicate with us before she has the words to do so (We’re really just getting started on this one.)
- No television or videos in Gracelyn’s presence
- Limiting the number of vaccines Gracelyn will receive and delaying all of them until she’s older
- Endeavoring to see things from Gracelyn’s perspective and consistently loving and respecting her as a full-fledged family member with wants and needs worthy of our attention
- Shonnie choosing to be a full-time mom while Gracelyn is a baby
I can’t put into words how deeply I appreciate all that Shonnie brings to our little family. Her compassion, consciousness, willingness, persistence, wisdom, innovation and patience have supported Gracelyn to be a happy, healthy, inquisitive, open, loving, courageous little baby girl. And, thus, she has an extraordinary opportunity to grow into exactly the person she’s meant to be.
Shonnie frequently says that having Gracelyn is the best thing she’s ever done, and the way she is with our little girl clearly demonstrates that she means it. Gracelyn could not have a more engaged, more thoughtful, more loving mother, bar none. So lots of love to you on your first Mother’s Day, sweet Shonnie, from me and from Gracelyn. You were clearly born to be a momma!