“Oh you’re one of those…” In my (almost) 3 short months of being a mom, that’s a phrase I’ve gotten used to hearing. I have started accepting it as a badge of honor. Yes! I am one of those! What am I? A crunchy mom. Other terms coined have been granola mom, natural mom, attached parent, and gentle parent. I personally like “hippie mom” myself and typically use that phrase when explaining to people what about my parenting is so different from what most of society now deems as normal. There are some very crunchy, or hippie-esque, things I do with my baby. There are also some things I do that aren’t crunchy—so here’s my take on being a part-time crunchy mom.
To start, I babywear. This is probably my most favorite thing in the whole wide world. I don’t understand the people who don’t babywear. Why do you want to lug that awkward, cumbersome car seat with you everywhere you go?? I throw on my moby (a wrap)* or my current favorite, my new Mei Tai (more of a wrap conversion—it’s like half soft structure carrier and half wrap), stick my baby in it, and I’m totally hands-free for hours to get whatever I need done. I especially love it for grocery shopping (or pretty much for any kind of outing). It keeps baby close (which keeps him calm) and keeps strangers at bay since (usually) they’re not going to invade my personal space. By not having the giant car seat to lug around, I also have full use of my shopping cart at all times, and on the days he’s needing some extra mama snuggles, I can wear him while still getting household chores done, like laundry and getting supper ready. On the not-so-crunchy side of things, I also put my baby in a stroller. I’ve seen people sell strollers because they babywear exclusively and don’t have a need for a stroller. As much as I love wearing my baby, I also love letting his dad and grandpa push him around in a stroller. Plus, it’s going to be hot soon, and we’ll both be much more comfortable if he’s not right up against me all the time.
Another thing that came up a lot in conversation right after I had my baby was what kind of birth I had. People looked at me like I might be certifiably insane when I would reply “natural” and correct them when they thought that just meant I didn’t have a c-section. Nope, this baby came out 100% natural with nothing but a couple of popsicles as my pain medicine. I also had a midwife instead of a typical OBGYN. The flip side: I had my baby in a hospital. There are lots of different options for where to have a baby—at home and at birthing centers are usually the more “granola” option. The hospital we chose, however, was very natural-birth friendly and never once did I feel like our birth plan wasn’t being respected. In fact, my nurse was totally on my side and gave me tips on how to have the baby as naturally as possible. While I like the idea of a birthing center, we had such a great experience that I would deliver there again without any hesitation.
Hippie mom qualifier #3: co-sleeping. This one actually took me by surprise. I had no intention whatsoever of actually co-sleeping. I planned on having baby in our room and, for a little while, next to my side of the bed in a pack-n-play. Turns out, baby’s the boss, and he had other plans. After some serious sleep deprivation trying to hold him and stay awake because people scare you to death about co-sleeping, I finally decided to do some research. Guess what? Co-sleeping can be awesome as long as it’s done safely. Ever since we started co-sleeping, we all sleep so much better, and there are quite a few studies that show babies actually thrive more from co-sleeping than not.**
I also nurse my baby. Not in the conventional way, but my baby is exclusively breastmilk fed. I pump milk and he gets it in a bottle. While I would love to nurse, and hopefully soon we’ll get to that point, I’m really thankful to be able to have been able to provide my baby with breastmilk.
Something not so crunchy (on which I’ve been called out on in the middle of a store by a stranger!!)? I don’t cloth diaper. I plan to cloth diaper eventually, but I knew having a baby was going to be a big enough adjustment that I would need to figure out our new routines before adding one more thing to the mix. Nashville does have a cloth diaper service, and it’s something we considered but decided we would just rather take care of our own diapers. My baby will have a “fluffy butt” (crunchy mom term for cloth diapered baby) but not until we find what cloth diapers are right for us.
One more point, and one that is arguable the most debated among parents everywhere: vaccines. We do vaccinate our son. However, the crunchy side still comes out because we’re vaccinating him on an alternative schedule.*** It’s just what makes the most sense to us. We’re told to introduce new foods one at a time so we can be aware of any reactions, why not do the same with shots? Plus this softy mommy heart couldn’t take 5 shots at once.
Sometimes I’m not always sure where I fit in—”crunchy” mom or “mainstream” mom—but I feel like we’ve found a balance that works for us and our family. Do I (or ANY of us) really need to have a mommy-label? We all just do what we think is best, and in the end all that matters is that our babies are happy and healthy.
P.S. A real life, non-crunchy moment: the chocolate donut I just wolfed down at 1 a.m. while finishing this post.