Newborn and infant care:
I had the baby in bed with me at night, we learned to nurse without waking or getting up. Doubled up cotton diapers with a wool layer over contained the urine, my bed smelled fresh, no worries over that. And their skin did not develop a rash (the wool breathes). I never rolled on her, or smothered her. I believed that unless drunk or stoned, it was unlikely I would like on something of that size, that would surely struggle or make some kind of noise, it was unlikely that I would not wake up. I was very attuned to my newborns, and think most mothers are likely to be as well. The focusing question was how would the most people in the household get the most sleep. Sleeping together was what worked for us. As a single parent, how much rest I got was VERY important.
Before I lost my partner, he said and did some things that seemed preposterous to me. One, he thought we should leave a light on, because the baby would be afraid of the dark... But, after all, it was dark in utero, so why should she be afraid of darkness. Also, though this partner and I made love while I was pregnant, he was scandalized at the idea that we might do that once the baby was outside of my body and in bed with us. Where do you think she was when we were making love before, I asked him. We did not split up til I was pregnant with the second child, which allowed me the chance to experience trying to parent with a partner who had totally different ideas. Though I would have welcomed another partner in to my life, I remained single. And one of the benefits of that was that once I had identified an unsatisfactory situation-condition, and figured out what I thought would be a constructive response, I did not have to try to convince anyone else, nor did I have to deal with anyone undermining me. The sole responsibility was lonely at times, and I would have enjoyed someone to share the funny amusing and tender moments, as well as the huge responsibility that raising children is, but that's not how it played out in my life.
Pregnant, I was convinced the fetus I carried was conscious and intelligent. This made me consider her from a different point of view than many other parents I knew at the time. I was curious about who she was, what she had come to share with me. Second child was very different from the first. My curiosity served me well, because again I was curious what his nature would be...
I put a newborn in a front pack with the babe facing me so we could have face time. These days there are all kinds of wraps and packs to carry the baby. I've seen some where the baby faces forward, and there does come a time when the baby wants to look the same way as the adult carrying the pack is looking, but in the early days, gazing in to each others faces is part of maturation and socialization of their brains (IMO, and some research too).
Months later, (when the baby has been holding her own head up for some time, has developed enough physical strength to crawl, roll over), I put the baby in a back pack, and I could feel her standing up to peer over my shoulder. It kept her safe and engaged and we shared the activity..
Individuals are different, we know this about adults, and babies are born with character of their own. What works one may not be remotely possible for another.
Transition to food, and weaning:
I believed that breast milk was the best food for my child for at least the first 6-8months, complete and perfect nutrition easy and convenient nd cheap, too, between then and a year she transitioned to solid food. The day came when the baby was watching me eat something, paying close attention. I gave her a bit and she held it in her mouth, moved it around, swallowed it, wanted another "bite". That was the beginning of weaning. I did not nurse for longer than about 14 months. This also was my decision. I know there are people who nurse 4 and 5 year olds, but not me. A lot of people seem to think the child will decide to quit. I know a woman who nursed her 4 year old daughter, though she resented the child, and complained at great length about it. Surely a child can feel a parent's resentment, and is capable of using that as a way of making a parent feel guilty. I thought it would be better for the mother to end the nursing, as it was not a matter of nutrition, and it was not contributing to a close relationship.
One story about this pair.... I was sitting and talking to my friend at their house, seated at the dining table. The nursing 4 year old began to shout "NURSE!!!" in a demanding tone. I was shocked, but kept my playful spirit. After several demands to nurse, I said to the child, "I'm a nurse, Suzie, what can I help you with?". The child gave me a dirty look and went to amuse herself in another room. Then the mother began to complain about this child who would not wean herself.
That friendship did not last much longer.
I really am enjoying looking back and remembering all these wonderful times and experiences, and appreciate the opportunity to share. Thank you