I’ll answer this one alone I think. For me, Amy, I would have to answer SUPPORT, SUPPORT, and SUPPORT. I didn’t realize how important a good support system was until I began to build one. My first support came from a required class that Simon and I had to take for marriage preparation back in 1995. It was a Natural Family Planning (NFP) class taught by Couple to Couple League International. In the class we learned about NFP, a natural birth control method this is just as effective, if not more then the conventional methods and has no side effects. We also learned about ecological breastfeeding, which is feeding on demand with no supplements or pacifiers and as long as is desired by both mother and child and the importance of natural birth. In the class we needed to put what we learned into practice (obviously not the part with the babies) over a few months. It was our first taste of doing things the natural way and it made sense to us. Well, with this class there comes a bimonthly newsletter (now it’s a magazine) that gives recent information, examples of NFP situations, a section for those who have children and lots of articles from just everyday people who write in with their experiences.
This is where I first had my support from when starting a family. Simon used to have a job where he traveled pretty much 100% of the time, so he would be home a few weekends of the year, not including vacation time. So after our first child arrived in 1997 all I had for support was this little newsletter and my own instincts. (My mother had passed away before Simon and I met in college and my siblings are all older then me and we all love each other, but keep to our selves for the most part.) Now I don’t think I would have listened to these instincts had I not taken the NFP course and been exposed to “natural” thinking. I would read the newsletter from cover to cover as soon as they arrived to keep myself up to date and feel like there were other people in the world that did things this way.
With the help of this support I was able to raise my child by following my instincts mostly, but I was still not questioning “authority”. I took my son to his scheduled doctor appointments, gave him his vaccinations, believe they knew what they were talking about when it came to medical things (i.e. his eczema).
After having our second child in 1999, Simon decided to switch jobs. This one didn’t have quite so much travel. All of a sudden, I had some more support. My system was growing. To make the commute easier we decided to move as well. I had decided that I wanted to attend a La Leche League meeting with my niece who was expecting so she would nurse her baby too. I wanted her to experience the bond I had with my children. Well, my niece lost her baby at 11 weeks, but something in me decided I would go to the meeting anyway.
Walking into my first La Leche League meeting was like coming home. For the first time since becoming a mother I felt as if I belonged somewhere. I always did things my own way based on what my instincts told me to do, so I was very different from my siblings. Now I was in a room of mothers doing the same thing. Thus, my support system grew even more. I became confident in what I was doing (I wasn’t alone anymore) and I learned so much more was out there. This was all happening the same time my daughter was suffering with her weight gain. Now I had the confidence to trust myself because I wasn’t alone anymore. I knew in my gut it wasn’t right what they were saying. I was a good parent and I could figure out what was going on with my daughter.