Baby Products I Never Needed: A Minimalist, Freeform Approach to Preparing for a New Baby

“Am I ready? What do I need?”

This is the warbling inner voice that greeted me this morning as I greased up my 32 week pregnant belly. The emotional content that trailed and lingered was rich with familiar (perhaps even collective) anxieties. In a consumerist driven society like my beloved Canada, many riches are to be found and made where shared major life-change anxieties churn. Oh, how I remember the cascade of personal hygiene products incessantly advertised, each cleverly promising a smoother (and sexier smelling) passage through puberty. Shudder. I dare not consult Amazon or the TV for guidance about parenting. At least, not yet. Anxious, groping shopping is a hollow rite.

Today, I’m seeking a comfy balance in preparing once again for new parenthood while experiencing totally reasonable feelings that anticipate an inevitable, monumental shift in the day-to-day. Readiness aside for a moment, “What do I need?” The internal responses that start to trickle in diverge into two clear streams. The first stream, very much influenced by my western culture, translates my question as, “What do I need to buy (to calm this anxiety)?” The second stream, very much influenced by my vulnerable ever-opening heart, hears, “What do I need to feel (to access the source of my anxieties to meet my actual needs)?” I don’t mind speaking to both of these voices, and I don’t resent the ease with which I can purchase helpful manufactured wares, but there’s the rub. What is helpful right now?

Needs. Stuff. New parenting stuff. Let’s talk about this.


First off, I’ll give you a little personal context here. I am very much pregnant with my very much planned second child. I’m a genderqueer single parent who lives a quiet life in the deep woods. My first baby was home-birthed on my living room floor. By nature, I tend to be a rather primal, sensual and sensitive creature. I dig mindfulness and simplicity. I’m big on economy of personal energy, self empowerment and basking in beauty. I nurture a restorative lifestyle… while single parenting. Yes, it’s definitely possible. I’ve put much careful thought and feeling into what objects live with me and my little one(s) in my home sanctuary. I feel both deeply comforted and inspired by my living environment. What I create at home supports my parenting, my livelihood and my personal growth. This kind of home design involves me being very honest with myself about how I actually live, my sensitivities and what matters to me independent of the “What every new parent needs” magazine articles or well meaning family input.

Here’s a personal review of commonly marketed parenting wares and western culturally endorsed parenting preparation practices. It’s been four years since I home-birthed my first child, and now, a few months before the arrival of another. The past four years have, for the most part, flowed beautifully and efficiently on the daily home rhythm front and I’m satisfied with the relatively minimal “parenting stuff” I acquired. But that’s my comfort zone: minimal. These first couple of lists lightly graze what can be bought to equip the home for the new parenthood experience. First I’m discussing what doesn’t work for me and why, and then I’m including a list of things that definitely do work for me. Take from them what’s useful to you and know that your experience might be very different from mine, which is also perfectly great. I don’t participate in judgy mom culture! Now on with the lists.

New Baby Stuff I Never Really Needed

A Freshly Painted Nursery

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Can’t do it. In much less feral circumstances I do not tolerate the odious smell of paint, VOC free or otherwise. My little family’s bedroom is shared and swathed in lovingly hand-oiled wood, so imagining myself with heightened senses after birthing and the ethereal days/weeks/months afterward, having my nose led by solvents to a separate room separate to find my baby doesn’t jive.


Baby Crib

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I like to sleep with my babies, on a mattress, on the floor. When I’m exhausted, I appreciate the convenience of propping my body on one side as my infant nurses then we both sleep. A lot. I once tried to imagine rolling myself out of my nest to stagger down to a room animated with night cries and I couldn’t make it past the doorway in my head before bear grunting, “No.” I don’t sleep very well unless I feel baby’s body, hear her breathing. This lowers my heart rate significantly. A small chirp from my infant is all that is required to rouse my attention. She used to nap on my lap as I meditated. Her spontaneous naps became my cue to meditate, or sleep (hint: restorative parenting tip # 1).


Changing Table

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Immediately, I hear the voice of a neuropsychologist mentor of mine from university who worked with head trauma. I don’t own a changing table. I love floors, especially pelvic floors. Deep squatting to attend to infants strengthens a Mama’s pelvic floor, greatly reducing the incidence of the notorious pee sneeze. Just sayin’.


Baby Monitors

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I am my baby’s monitor. Lucky for me, I’m able to have my babies on me or beside me as I go about my day, work and all.


Bouncy Chairs / Exersaucers / Floor Gyms

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As I mentioned above, I’m a big fan of carrying babies. That is, without the use of baby wearing devices (which I love, thank-you Ergo). What human little monkeys! When given the regular opportunity, from a remarkably young age these wee ones will hold on to their loving, baby-carrying adults. All those strengthening core muscles, developing fine and gross motor skills, and little brains lighting up all while actively taking part in baby’s own transport. Amazing. That, and things like bouncy chars are really bulky, and sometimes, I’ll say it, ugly. If not second-hand, many carry a chemical smell that hurts my senses. Often they are not age appropriate for a newborn and wouldn’t be used for a few months, if ever.


Pacifiers

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Instead of using pacifiers to silence or soothe my little one, I breastfeed on demand, which tends to meet her needs. This isn’t possible for everyone, but it works for me.


Baby Bottle Paraphernalia

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Did I mention how grateful I am for my milk-producing breasts? I did develop a nasty case of mastitis after my first baby was born, which was painful and discouraging. I pumped my breast to clear the way for healthy functioning. For years afterward, typically around two in the morning, I thanked my breasts for my not needing to fiddle and diddle with bottles and rubber nipples and brushes.


Strollers

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I used to be a survival instructor many years ago. I always carried my gear, and sometimes people, atop my load bearing, powerful hips and snugly against the core of my body for long treks so I wouldn’t exhaust myself with awkward weight distribution or use of smaller joints to do the bulk of my work. After spending nine months slowly adjusting to carrying a baby inside my body, it just makes sense to me to keep that rough weight distribution going. Oh yah, then there’s the whole baby-caregiver mutual attunement (physiological and emotional) factor. That’s nice too.


Infant hygiene products

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If you’ve ever smelled the top of the head of your newborn, then later, again and again found yourself huffing your newborn’s head with oxytocin stimulating delight, you’ll know what I’m talking about here. Newborns have a good smell that I don’t ever want to wash off. I didn’t own any infant hygiene products, and I didn’t bathe the protective vernix off my newborn’s body. When I did eventually bathe her, it was with water or with breast milk. Really — breast milk. Especially on bums.


Baby tubs and Buckets

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This may sound ridiculous, but ever since I watched a tragic baby-themed episode of Oprah in the nineties, I cannot place babies and buckets in the same space in my mind without welling up. On a more uplifting note, I own a cast iron tub scavenged from a field, which I now luxuriate in nightly. I occasionally share this experience with my little one. My mother is a big fan of plopping infants in her kitchen sink, and I do afford her this honour, as long as she puts the Johnson and Johnson products back in her bathroom cupboard.


Diapers

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I was gifted a giant bin of super soft, second-hand quilted pre-fold cotton diapers, wool covers, the works. I was also gifted a big pack of newborn disposable diapers. Then I met my daughter. She fiercely informed me with all of her newborn communication powers that she would have NONE of ANY of THAT, cloth or disposable. Nope. Then I opened a gifted copy of the book, Diaper Free by Ingred Bauer and discovered the wonderful world of natural infant hygiene. Basically, a bare-bummed baby.

How does this work? Perhaps another post all together might clear that up, but what I will tell you is that we never contended with a rash on her tender skin. Pre-fold diapers became one of the most utilized pieces of parenting gear I owned. I carried/wore this child with a layer of wool and a pre-fold diaper next to my body. Much of the time I was able to “sense” when she needed to eliminate and I would hold her over a little potty or outside on the grass. At night she slept on layers of wool, sheepskins, and a cotton pre-fold under her bottom. Somehow, while sleeping, I also seemed to sense when she would pee and I’d wake up and swap the wet pre-fold for a dry one. I considered all this a service of assisting rather than training. She later essentially taught herself to toilet. Sometimes I would diaper her for visits with diaper-loving/peepoo fearing folk. Sometimes she would tolerate this.


Car seat

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Fuck yes. This I actually needed, just not very often because I don’t place an infant in a car very often. But when I do, thank you rear facing car seat. Now if only there was a car seat/baby carrier that somehow also attaches to Mama’s body, comfortably, “safely” in the car. Come on, I know someone out there is just itching to develop this!

My Favorite Parenting and New Baby Items

  • Washable Sheepskins
  • Moses basket
  • Wool (re-purposed or otherwise, especially old cashmere) EVERYTHING to keep small bodies warm, and absorb pee
  • Colourful silk (re-purposed or otherwise) EVERYTHING to diffuse light, feel wonderful against the skin, uplift
  • ERGO baby carrier/Ring slings/Rebozos
  • A freezer full of lovingly made nourishing foods
  • Fresh fruit and veggies all the time
  • Chocolate
  • A big fat reminder that all your baby really wants/needs is YOU
  • A comfortable place to seat yourself with a very little person (rocking chair, hammock, papasan, bolster, zafu, floor, whatevs)
  • Comfortable clothing for Mama that baby can be worn inside

Now that we’ve talked about how to equip our homes, what can be done to equip ourselves for the experience of both birth and parenthood? Here are my recommendations:

A “Blessing Way”

Either instead of or in addition to a traditional, product-laden baby shower. This is an event where your birth support kin gather, share stories, hold space for your personal needs and free-flow of wild birthy feelings. Activities often include the creative preparation of talismans and gifts intended to assist you before and during birth. Blessing ways serve to love you exactly where you are. There is not much of a focus on baby products or fundraising. Blessing ways can help access what you actually want/need/desire for your birth and new baby experience while creating an opportunity to ask for assistance ahead of time. A blessing way is a big prayer for you and baby, with nourishing snacks and beverages.


Frozen food parties

It’s probably a good time to ask yourself what you really enjoy eating, what foods comfort and nourish YOU. Then, ask your friends and family to come over and make them, for you, and put those meals in your freezer. This is an incredible personal investment that your body’s future needs will definitely thank you for.


A deep clean and purge of your home before a single baby purchase happens

This can also be in the form of a party. Often when my anxieties prompt me to gather, I take a step back and purge first, while there’s still time (dun, dun, dun… just kidding… no, really). Steep yourself in the experience of your home space as it is now. Then imagine how you would like your new parenting experience to feel. I found a very open loft space in the woods with lots of light. I decorated with hand-painted silks from artisan friends. I found an enormous hand-tied wool carpet (second-hand from an estate) that invites me to spend more time on the floor. Plants grow everywhere. This was a start for me. I have minimal furniture to appease my desire for a sense of openness and natural movement. I scaled back, a lot, before I added any new baby stuff. I also cleaned. With wonderful smelling essential oils that reduce anxiety. I waited, to hear what I needed next. I added nothing until I felt a very clear prompt. I also fashioned a mixed CD of the music that made me feel like planet earth is a wonderful place to be. Then I sat in the space, listening, imagining baby’s arrival. This somehow assisted a smooth transition from baby in-body to baby in-arms. We still like to listen to it.


Massages for YOU while learning how to massage infants

During my first pregnancy, I just so happened to live near a massage school that gave free massages to pregnant women. Glorious. So glorious feeling that often, shortly afterward, I would life model at an art school to capture a gestural wisp of how AMAZING I FELT. And students didn’t have many opportunities to draw super preggo figures. I also picked up a gently used copy of the book, Infant Massage by Vimala Schneider Mcclure. This book helped me enter a soothing imagined experience of new parenthood and later became quite ragged as my new infant glistened with jojoba oil.


Booking ample time off for after baby arrives. Book support of loved ones as well.

Although I did book a lengthy, commitment-free postpartum retreat for my first child, I must admit, I failed to book ample social/family physical support. In fact, I didn’t ask for it at all. For some reason, I took on a very rugged, independent homesteading persona/approach to my baby-moon. I’m not doing that again this time around. Sign me up for pampering from my beloved. Love up my four year old daughter who will definitely need extra support during her own monumental life shift. Grandma, Grandpa, Apu, sweet besties, I call out for your support and thank you in advance. These are my cleaning and cooking and taking small children out for long hike elves and angels. Priceless. So grateful already.


So here I am, still greasy bellied, preparing for baby. I’ll let you in on a little insight that does bring me comfort: I cannot be “ready” for birth, or parenting. A huge wave of anxiety dissipates when I embrace this fact. This is cosmic, uncontrollable, unpredictable territory folks. Birth will come. I will surrender. I will parent. I’m still surrendering. I am listening. What I have and what I am is enough. My needs do feel met. And because I’m willing to feel, I know I am able attune to my own shape-shifting needs as I go along, attuning to my baby’s needs. Quite the dance.

Oh also, there is an electric device that warms baby bum towels that I just might pick up and give a whirl the next time I visit the big city. I just can’t seem to resist. Product review to eventually follow.

I got this.

And so do you.

has written 12 articles for us.

168 Comments

  1. I assume this account is supposed to be descriptive of one person’s parenting rather than prescriptive, but just a note that being able to parent in this fashion requires a huge amount of privelege. The implication that disposable diapers and changing tables are a product of consumerism, rather than completely necesary for many people (ie people who cant afford to be with their child 24/7 or dont have a body capable of “deep squats”) feels really elitist. I am very glad the author is blessed with oiled walls and a instinctive sense of their baby’s urinary habits, but I feel like conversations about natural/ minimalist parenting (or lifestyle in general) very quickly becomes exclusionary to people who aren’t middle-class/white/able bodied/etc (not to assume the author’s identities, but just in general).

    • AND THIS PART: “Booking ample time off for after baby arrives.” I get that the author’s from Canada BUT STILL. SURELY they should know that that is not even a little bit something SO MANY WOMEN just CANNOT do.

  2. It’s really great that you have had such a positive parenting experience. Really. And I know that you said you don’t participate in judgey mum culture but oh brother.

    Even I felt guilty reading your piece and I don’t even have children!

    I mean, my parents put me in childcare 5 days a week when I was 3 months old because they both had to go to work full time. And my mum is one of the best mums out there and she’s one of my best friends, you know. Our bonding was not affected by the fact that I wasn’t held 24/7. Neither was my bestie and her bub’s bonding diminished because her earlier breast surgery meant she couldn’t breastfeed. And the car accident that left her unable to lift much weight for long periods of time has had no bearing on the fact that her 3 year old tells everyone that will listen that her mummy is her best friend.

    Like I said, it’s fucking awesome that you’ve had such an amazing parenting experience and that your daughter is happy. But I just think all this discourse of ‘natural’ parenting actually mostly serves to make women feel bad about themselves for not being rich enough, privileged enough, white enough or able bodied enough. It is a discourse of fantasy that most people just don’t have the resources to live up to.

  3. Thank you for writing this! Your holistic, natural, minimalistic way of life is wonder-inspiring and soothing to read about; I humbly suggest that you consider writing a book, on any topic but particularly on this one. My grandparents live in a rustic, minimalistic cabin that they built themselves, and as farmers they survive almost entirely on their own, “off the grid,” so self-reliance, survival skills, and living apart from the modern world has always interested me.

    Blessings on you and your growing family.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this. I’m not a mama, probably won’t be, but I really like your approach and perspective on keeping the toxins out of your baby’s life. I’m sensitive to perfume/chemicals too and it’s nice reading about people who are proactive in reducing toxic exposures for their children.

    I agree with the others about addressing privilege. Maybe next time you could offer up natural solutions/methods that are accessible for low income people as well.

  5. Meh…this lovely and all, but I want all these things, except maybe pacifiers. I consider decorating and shopping for the nursery one of the best pre-pregnancy activities. I like accompanying friends.

    I’m all also kind of neurotic about things and cleaning. Preparing and shopping for home/life necessities is a treat. Everyone I know with a jogging stroller loves it. Got to get that work out in.

  6. When I stopped washing my hair with shampoo for three months, I sincerely wished that my parents had never started using shampoo on me in the first place.
    I love the idea of the Blessing Way and the frozen-food gifts from your friends.

    Also, the recent Queer Mama article on Sperm Shopping was about dropping $7,400 on sperm, but I didn’t see any comments about how Haley needed to check her privilege or “consider that other people don’t have $7,400 to spend on sperm.” It seems unfair to target this author in such a way. We don’t know how Erin arranged their life in order to have the babies on hips all day. Queer parents often make up their own rules and practices for parenting, out of necessity or choice. Why not ask a question, if something about Erin’s lifestyle confused you?

      • This article is about Erin’s own experience. They also acknowledged in the beginning that these are simply things that worked for them that might work for others. Sharing the things that worked for you as a parent doesn’t make you not genuine.

        • i would agree if the tone/quality of the article matched the claim that it’s just about the author’s own experience. it SAYS it’s just about their own preferences, yes, but to me it is just dripping with implication that those things are best and more responsible.

          • Agreed. I don’t want to be too harsh – they seem like a good parent and I’m happy they’ve had such a positive parenting experience. It just seems like this advice is only realistic for a miniscule percentage of the population, and that should at last have been acknowledged. The vast majority of people, even stay at home moms who are able to breastfeed, are still going to need things like bottles and diapers! Unless you plan to spend almost all of your time at home until your child is weaned and potty trained, not using these things just isn’t feasible.

            Also, despite the author’s claims to the contrary there is a strong undercurrent of judgment in this article. To anyone reading this who felt guilty afterwards – it’s OK to put your baby down occasionally (perhaps even in a bouncy chair or a stroller). You will still bond, you’re still a good parent, it’s totally fine.

    • She did acknowledge her/their privilege, but overall it is something they are going into debt for which I feel like is something everyone can relate to.

      Being able to take months off as a single parent to keep your baby attached at the hip and then preaching that as the best thing ever is a whole other level of wealthy.

      Passages such a this:

      “Then I met my daughter. She fiercely informed me with all of her newborn communication powers that she would have NONE of ANY of THAT, cloth or disposable. Nope.”

      make it seem like people who put their babies in diapers, because they have shit to do or need to take their child to daycare, are horrible people who don’t listen to their newborns needs. Cloth diapers are a great alternative and I’m sure a baby could adjust, most babies do.

      • I don’t typically care what other people do, which is why I didn’t mention anything about “checking privilege” in my first post, but I see why this bothers people.

        It’s not just that she’s sharing her lifestyle, she’s making it seem like these baby items were created for no reason. As if it just consumer waste. Many women need strollers because they don’t have a vehicle and take public transportation or have multiple children and need a secure carrier to go shopping with. She even dismissed body carrying with a wrap which is much needed by women all over the world to have their hands free to work. I’m a huge supporter of breastfeeding, but not everyone is able or has the lifestyle to and bottles are needed. Baby bouncers and exercisers are a god send to busy stressed out moms. I could continue for almost every item on this list.

        • They also mentioned:
          “A freezer full of lovingly made nourishing foods”
          and
          “Fresh fruit and veggies all the time”
          I feel like maybe they just missed the part that those are both hard to come by for a decent majority of the world’s population.

        • I don’t think she does dismiss using a wrap, but I do think she was unclear on that bit.

          When she talks about all the benefits of carrying a baby, she is talking about them as an alternative to baby bouncer chairs and floor gyms. She isn’t dismissing wraps or other aids for transporting babies, but saying that you don’t HAVE to have those things for your baby to develop physically, your little one can get a workout from just being held.

          She actually says she loves her baby carrier, Ergo, mentioning it twice and linking to buy one on Amazon.

    • One last thing: I can guaranfuckingtee you that if a poor woman of color did all of this, especially the cosleeping on a mattress on the floor, the not bathing, the diaperlessness, everybody sleeping in one room…there’s a hefty chance she’d get reported to CPS and have her child taken. And that’s very much not an exaggeration.
      I just think everybody should let that sink in a little, especially the passively judging author of this thing.

        • This is a total aside, but the recommendations on that poster come from the American Academy of Pediatrics and, like all NYC PSAs, are posted in English and Spanish to make them accessible to a greater percentage of the NYC population (though sometimes in different Subway cars, which can make it seem like the Spanish language posters are aimed only at Latin@s – I wish they’d put both next to each other to avoid giving that impression).

          That’s not to say that woman of color don’t have their parenting choices more harshly policed – they absolutely do. I worked for a judge in the Manhattan family court a couple of years ago and had the opportunity to watch many child abuse/neglect proceedings. Based on my observations, I agree that co-sleeping on a mattress on the floor and not diapering or bathing a baby with soap could be enough to put a poor woman of color at risk of having her child placed in foster care. That is not, of course, the author’s fault – but it is something worth thinking about when offering parenting adivce.

      • Except you have to look at it in context. It’s not like the mama here is leading this lifestyle in the city with busybodies around to judge and report her to CPS. I mean, CPS doesn’t just come to your door randomly — some person, somewhere reported it first. When you aren’t in cities or around people, who is going to call them? So yeah, context. My cousin is black and leads a very similar, very extreme lifestyle and raises her babies in a hippie commune in Colorado. She’s never once had an issue with CPS.

        • AY DIOS MIO.
          Do you really think CPS doesn’t come around rural families? Um…you’re so wrong, it’s not even funny. AGAIN, I grew up in the middle of nowhere. Literally. Four hours away from the nearest grocery store, and the cheapest of those grocery stores was more expensive than almost anywhere else in the US (and Canada). CPS was involved in my life, and the lives of, shocker!, the overwhelming majority of indigenous families both in my area and throughout the (blindingly rural) state.
          Rural living doesn’t magically protect you from racism. NOTHING magically protects you from racism. Good for your cousin, but maybe realize the whole “trotting out your black friend/cousin/etc” card is old, tired, and means nothing to me or any other person of color. And still, CPS could come for her children at any time.

          • This is what is wrong with the comment section here. I wasn’t “trotting” anything out and resent you saying that. It was mentioned that if a poor black woman did this, CPS would take her children away. I happen to know of a poor black woman who lives this way without any issues but I am apparently not allowed to share that information? Because I am white, I guess?

            Also I am aware that CPS interferes with rural familes. CPS can interefere with anyone’s family, anywhere. Fuck, someone called CPS on my white, heterosexual, middle class, Christian brother and his wife when they were new parents in a small rural town because they had taken their baby to the car without him being probably bundled up during winter. What happened in that situation was busybody neighbors calling out of “concern.” What I meant in my previous post is when you live around like-minded people or when you don’t live around anyone at all, that sort of call is less-likely to happen. I didn’t say that CPS never interferes or bothers rural families.

            And jeez, only in fucking America is it a crime to co-sleep or sleep on the floor anyway. It’s bullshit that people report parents “out of concern” because they are doing things differently than they would. Not too surprising, though, I guess, given how everyone is reacting to one article where someone talks about doing things differently than most here would!

        • So you’re claiming that race doesn’t play a factor in treatment by CPS?
          Yeah, see, you’re just plain wrong. Statistically wrong. Factually wrong.
          http://www.chapinhall.org/sites/default/files/old_reports/399.pdf
          http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/fostercare/caseworker/roberts.html

          And in Canada, it’s almost exlusively an indigenous issue. The Canadian government takes First Nation children at the drop of a hat.
          I didn’t pull the statement out of nowhere. I see this every day at work, I’ve studied this, I’ve LIVED this. My sample size isn’t one, like yours.
          But I guess we live in a postracial society, eh? Where white people and people of color are treated the same? How did I miss that?

          • I actually said NOTHING of the sort. Again, the problem with the comments section here. I am very aware that racism is still an issue everywhere, well as aware as a white person can be. You don’t know me. I’m not racist, nor do I turn a blind eye to racism and pretend we’ve come so far and are so much better. Again as a white person I’m aware that I can’t fully get it, but I try. Why are you so intent on making enemies and putting words in my mouth? We may come from different backgrounds and vastly different experiences and perspectives, but in the grand scheme of things we are on the same side of this battle.

          • @lilro a person of color is pointing out a problem that has to do with structural racism i think that as white people u and i would do well to listen to that

            it is at the very least rude to respond to a comment like this with an example of your one friend who had a different experience, since the real problem is that MANY people of color experience racism in this situation even if some don’t

            as for rural families in any way being safer from racist double standards that is just straight up not true at all

  7. well OH MAN here i am popping in to say negative things in the comments even though i hardly ever comment on AS at all! but i love many things on this website and that is truly why i feel the need to say that this article is super super annoying! like, enraging! mostly for the reasons others have said better than i can above about privilege etc.

    i mean, you can’t just SAY you aren’t judgey and then write a really judgey article! the judgiest!

    also i am an “””older””” reader and have been loving the effort here lately to cater to readers over 30 and i cannot be alone in hoping that AS will choose to make this a one time thing and steer back away from articles like this.

  8. i meant, move away from articles like this especially if the intent is to write more for the older crowd. as a 30 year old white cis lesbian living in a rural but hippie-ish area, overly simplistic anti-consumerist lifestyle advice is like, something i actually have enough of. haha. i am not meaning to sound snide here i just, am honestly astonished AS published this.

    • er, not that everyone older is in that same demographic with me obvs. just that this is kind of cliched white older hippie lesbian stuff. ok god i am chatty tonight bye!

    • I see what people are saying about the privilege thing, but I really crave more stories that are hippie-ish… I don’t know any other queer websites with a focus on environmental, toxin-free, etc. Many are very mainstream & commercial and that’s not my vibe. I was happy to see a post that touched on that, even if was about babies… If AS does more posts like this, it would be good to showcase more diverse voices

      • When I think of hippies, I think of my grad school professor who I felt *~*~loved~*~* me because she felt guilty* in her radical days excluding WOC in her feminist club.

        I read this article and thought of her.

        *White guilt is a hell of a drug

  9. I felt anxious and guilty reading this, and my son is 25! And I’m a trans woman, not an idealized earth mother. But then I reminded myself that my son had a crib (even though he ended up in bed with his parents the majority of the time once he figured out how to get there), and used diapers, and had a pacifier, and even a swing, and wasn’t breastfed, and all sorts of other things not-so-subtly condemned in this piece, and turned out to be a completely wonderful, healthy person with whom I bonded as much as any woman who ever gave birth to their baby (the absence of oxytocin notwithstanding). Amor vincit omnia works for me. And I get the feeling that most of the virtuous self-denial chronicled here is designed to make the parent feel better about themselves, and isn’t actually better for the child. “Natural” does not always equal “better,” and in any event there’s nothing “unnatural” about using the products of human invention to make both children’s and parents’ lives easier. Especially the lives of women who aren’t able to spend 24 hours a day intuiting their babies’ excretory impulses.

  10. was the you do you sign on the front door of this website not big enough for y’all, or should i start putting a disclaimer at the top of literally every parenting article so you’ll feel catered to and know that they’re all just one person’s account of what worked for them, and not a prescription or mandate for what you should do with your lives?

    “First I’m discussing what doesn’t work for me and why, and then I’m including a list of things that definitely do work for me. Take from them what’s useful to you and know that your experience might be very different from mine, which is also perfectly great.”

    if you think i’m not about to publish as many articles as i can from as many perspectives as i can on what it means to be a queer parent, sorry. here’s one. there’ll be more. no one’s telling you what to do.

    the ease with which you’ve gone after this writer today has actually shocked the hell out of me. AS is known as a safe space to share your truth, because the community is supportive of different experiences and participates in nuance. whatever the fuck y’all are into tonight in these comments is not what we’re about.

    we’ll continue to have more perspectives on queer parenting for you to light on or disregard, and if you have your own perspective to share, please do. submit to laneia @ autostraddle.com and include a link to your AS profile.

      • agreed! to me the problem was not at all that the article didn’t “cater to me” – i clicked on it after all and i don’t even want kids, i was just interested, exactly, to hear about someone else’s truth and experience. i think the same author could have written a really similar article and had it not come off as though they think those parenting techniques are best. which it really did, to me, even though there was a disclaimer that it shouldn’t.

    • I’ve been a long time Autostraddle supporter and I actually liked this essay, to me it’s inspirational. I’d love to raise a baby like that (with the addition of diapers probably). But the policing of tone and content of comments is unsettling. If we are discouraged from tone-policing articles and essays then why are the comment threads constantly being policed and chastised for critical remarks? I’ve seen it happen on lots of posts. I think most of the comments about the author’s privilege are valid and not overly judgey, unlike the tone of this piece. Also, some mention of the author’s privilege to be able to raise a baby in that way would have been good, especially around the issue of time off after having a baby. And by the way, that was something that the author recommended to do, as if everyone can just not work for months after a baby with no repercussions.

      • Pointing out that someone is being rude is not tone policing. If people want to be critical of the article, that’s fine. But critics are not immune to criticism themselves. If you can dish out criticism, you can take it. Signed, a WOC

    • I honestly don’t get a lot of the criticism of this article. Except the comment that it was possibly satire, that cracked me up. The soothing hippie tone of it does feel a bit satirical to me at times, even as I envy much of the lifestyle it is describing (minus the presence of babies/children and the seeming absence of furry babies… basically I’d love to work at home from a wood cabin in the company of my dog).

      The one area where I would have appreciated a further mention of privilege is when the author suggests taking ample time off when your baby arrives. It was a missed opportunity to point out how unfortunately rare this opportunity is in so many places, but also to reassure those parents who can’t take this time off that while it will be difficult for them, it is also something their baby will adapt to.

      The author makes it clear not just at the begging but throughout the article that she is sharing her experience/preferences. Her phrasing avoids telling others what they should do and doesn’t present her choices as the only valid ones or criticize alternative choices as bad for babies. She asks the reader to imagine THEIR parenting space. She presents the benefits of her choices by saying “That’s nice too”, not THIS IS VITAL. She explains how her life experience prepared her to be able to carry her baby on her hip all day.

      She repeatedly says this works for ME and here is why and acknowledges that she is lucky/grateful for her opportunities (“This isn’t possible for everyone, but it works for me”, “Lucky for me, I’m able to have my babies on me or beside me as I go about my day, work and all.”)

      Yes, she is privileged to live such a lifestyle. Should Autostraddle not share the experiences of queer parents who are privileged enough to make such choices? How, specifically, could she have shared her experience without making you feel judged?

      I’m curious as to what, specifically, has provoked such harsh reactions. For the moment, it feels a lot like when a vegan friend talks about his or her diet choices and the omnivores among us automatically take it as critical of what they eat or respond “It must be nice to be able to afford so much soy milk”. It raises the same question for me: how could the person have shared their experience better?

      • I like this question, because I definitely feel like what people (including me) are feeling rub them the wrong way is not this author or this content, but something about the way the content is presented. How is it making people feel “judged,” even though the author repeatedly notes that they are presenting their own personal preferences and recommendations, and that these things may not work for everybody?

        I think what it is, maybe unfortunately, is that the author seems to be presenting that they have had an extremely positive and easy parenting experience, and I think that gives people a vibe that for the many parents who don’t find early parenthood to be the “ethereal days/weeks/months” that the author describes, it must be because they just aren’t doing it “right” (aka that they aren’t “mutually attuned” with their baby, or they’ve exposed their baby to chemicals, or they’ve had to recover from a c-section, etc.). For me, the parts of the article that work best are the parts where the author describes overcoming challenges to her preferred way of parenting (mastitis) or learning what to do better this time through trial-and-error (asking for help from their support system). But much of this does seem to be a list of things the author simply decided they didn’t need and it luckily worked out (baby monitor, pacifier, changing table). There’s a weird conflation here of recommendation list and personal essay, I think. Either you’re describing your personal experiences or you’re recommending ways to make my personal experience better, and it’s really unclear which one is happening here.

        I don’t know, this comment is much less coherent than I’d hoped, but does that clarify at all why people are reacting the way they are?

        • I’ve been thinking a lot about this article, my own reaction to it, and the reactions it has mostly inspired. I came to a similar conclusion about the list format. I think lists tend to carry a subtext of things being proscribed or commanded. It also reduces the ability to give context or process, which would help it feel less “preachy” and more “personal journey”. While one would hope that readers will be thoughtful and focused on content, I agree that this would have garnered a different response as a personal essay that frames these ideas as a discussion and/or personal evolution. Which I guess makes the issue one of editorial choice, not content.

    • A disclaimer isn’t fucking magic. A writer can talk about how their piece is only meant to be one perspective/experience all day long but if the actual article comes across as otherwise, then a disclaimer doesn’t magically negate that. And way to talk down to your readers as though some of them can’t understand that the author claimed to be writing only a personal narrative, but still feel as though that attempt at limiting and contextualizing the experience and advice fell flat at least partially.

      If people voicing their views on an article that despite best intentions came off to some as prescribing a “best practices” parenting model is something AS isn’t about, but chastising people for pointing out that despite the disclaimer about personal experience that the article still came off a certain way to them is something AS is about, and that combined with AS having linked to and praised in the past some article on how tone policing is totally a good thing sometimes even though tone policing and intolerance for threats are not one in the same (but tone critiquing a person writing from a certain privileged advantage point and whose article comes off a certain way to some readers is the worst thing ever), and if AS is about trying to shout down some commenters because they don’t like a particular article especially when it is situated in a context where parents are often inundated with out-of-touch, unfeasible, and oftentimes unsubstantiated views on how to do “natural” right, then I am not about AS.

      Hell, I don’t even see the article as coming across as any more preachy than a lot of “natural/minimalistic” advice stuff. But can see why it isn’t exactly a narrative that needs to be defended, especially in predominantly white liberal spaces. As another commenter mentioned a lot of this stuff wouldn’t be considered “choice” when done by some parents. But because I don’t necessarily find a problem with this doesn’t mean I am going to chastise others for speaking when they do and I’m sure as hell not about to keep patronizing a site that will. The people offering criticism and differences of view aren’t jumping on anyone, and don’t even act like that isn’t an accusation thrown around against marginalized women all the fucking time when they have a problem with something. Fuck faux solidarity, fuck the “pile-on” narrative, and fuck AS.

    • Listen: I say this compassionately, and with one hundo percent understanding around your frustration with the conversation under this article. that being said, you’ve got to understand that although autostraddle does a phenomenal job of posting nuanced, balanced articles from some many perspectives, if you are going to add *parenthood* to the mix… woooo you better be prepared for a whole new level of difficulty in navigating those waters. by the very nature of parenthood, or preparing for parenthood, you already walk a thin tightrope of people judging you for your decisions, and you yourself rejecting someone else’s way of being a parent and risking offending them.

      whether you have a kid or not, im sure you can visualize the insane pressure of *being responsible for someone else’s life* 24/7/365. and im sure you can also empathize with how easy it is to raise someone’s hackles if they sense it is even being implied that they are *raising a human life sub-par*. reallll easy to get people riled up.

      i think everyone who commented was more than civil. i think if autostraddle is going to dive deep into discourse around parenthood, it would do well to remember that it IS a discourse and that is going to elicit healthy debate. in the case of this article specifically, i don’t think that it is totally off-base to highlight the fact that it did indeed come off as a little bit biased, a little bit judgey, and a teensy bit un-self-aware. i definitely think the author had some lovely points and a wonderful message around emotionally preparing for parenthood. but i don’t think anyone was off base on pointing out the above.

    • I totally disagree. I thought that criticisms of this article were, by and large, respectful and constructive. People generally made it clear that they weren’t criticizing the author as a parent or attacking them as a human being, but simply explaining why this type of advice (and, disclaimer notwithstanding, it was presented as advice) felt exclusionary and elitest to them. A few people pointed out that co-sleeping and not using soap carry health risks, but none of these comments called the author a bad parent for making these choices.

      Safe spaces are free of threats and ad hominem attacks. They need not be, and in fact should not be, places free of critique.

      • i really agree with this. i feel a way bigger sense of community reading the comment thread here and having other people’s comments refine my perhaps slightly less than civil original reaction to this post than i think i would if we all only posted nice things on the articles we loved.

      • I agree; my perception of the discourse here is that it has, on the whole, been emotionally charged but constructive and generally in line with the values that make the AS community great, like intersectionality, nuance, and dialogue.

    • (@ laneia’s original comment)

      i think the whole point is that the article itself is not very “you do you”! again i know that the author claims not to judge but it reads as prescriptive. there is certainly opinion put forth about what is best for children and people are allowed to disagree with that.

      that said, even if this WAS more clearly written as just one person’s truth/perspective – individual experience does not exist in a relativist vacuum and “you do you” (to me!) doesn’t either. even if it IS in fact this author’s “truth” that i am disagreeing with and not just the presentation/format/tone i think that is ok, since people’s truth and perspective can’t be removed from their social/cultural/etc context.

    • The disclaimer doesn’t outweigh the obvious subtext.

      If you’re really shocked at the reaction, and see it as “going after” or ganging up on the writer, then I think you need to do a lot more thinking about why this piece made so many people so uncomfortable. And pay a lot more attention to the substance of people’s comments, rather than simply condemning them.

      It’s not as if the piece was simply a collection of random, coincidental personal preferences, arising in a vacuum. Every single one arises from, and is consistent with, a very specific cultural worldview that I view as innately elitist and ableist — as well as gender-essentialist in emphasis, despite the author’s self-identification as genderqueer — even though it’s not necessarily intended as such.

      It’s also a worldview associated in my mind with being anti-science, which is why I’m tempted (but afraid) to ask whether the author believes her children should be vaccinated.

    • I really love this website, but I gotta say that this response from AS re: the very valid criticism and discussion of this article in the comments is a real bummer. Scolding your readers for their (by and large engaged and respectful) responses is not a great look.

    • I don’t think anyone is criticising this mama and their parenting style per se, but clearly the way the article is written is really not sitting well with some people. For example, if they had explored more of how they were able to parent in this way it might not have come across as so blindly privilege-y.

      And I don’t think people are being mean either. I don’t think too many people are saying they wish the article hadn’t been posted at all, they are mostly critical of the tone of the piece, right? And that’s an editing issue.

      The readers are offended you guys, and they are expressing that offence in clear, critical and reasonable language (mostly). That’s not something you should dismiss, it’s something you should listen to carefully.

    • In response to Laneia’s comment:

      I feel like quite a few people have said this better than I. But as a pretty big fan of AS and pretty long term reader of the site, I feel like I should say that this attempt to shut down people’s criticism of the article was really upsetting.

      No one (as far as I’ve seen) has been rude or made personal attacks against the writer. People have criticized the tone of the article and raised issues about privilege.

      I don’t understand (nor agree with) the idea that ‘you do you’ means that you only read stuff that you love, and if you dislike or disagree with something you don’t engage with it.

      I don’t know how as a community or individuals we can actually learn from that…like I’ve seen Autostraddle change for the better over the last few years on a number of issues, and that has been (as far as I can see) from engagement with parts of the readership (in addition to other things behind the scenes I imagine). And that’s one of the things I really like about Autostraddle. It’s not some corporate site or something in which you know they don’t give two shits about what the readership thinks. It feels like an actual community, full of very different people, with different interests, who nonetheless have a joint interest in creating a better and more inclusive community for queer women. Honestly that’s what I’m here for. Like I like a lot of articles here, and other articles I have no interest in, but that community and that engagement.

      • and I didn’t quite finish that thought:

        Like I like a lot of articles here, and other articles I have no interest in, but that community and that engagement is really what I’m here for and people engaging and criticizing this article is part of that. Engagement isn’t always going to be positive, and it shouldn’t be either.

        And the fact that there’s so much criticism here? It’s a reflection of the fact that quite a number of different people from different perspectives found this article troubling for a variety of reasons, as have been stated, not like an attempt by people to ‘go after’ the writer.

        • i really agree w/ this. i’ve been reading autostraddle pretty consistently since it was l word recaps and it has made me so happy and pleasantly surprised in the last few years to see a website try to do better and become more sensitive to structural inequalities while also becoming somewhat more mainstream/popular.

          it seems like people are upset that this is becoming a ~~~crazy comments section~~~ like on other websites and i do see how in general AS is maybe becoming less utopian and feels less like a safe comfortable space in some ways for SOME people. but i for one am super happy about that b/c utopias like that don’t work exactly because of the reality of the outside world and it’s problems and the vastly different experiences that we all bring even if we have being queer or being women in common.

    • You had better thicken up your skin then if you find the reader response to this “shocking,” because passive-aggressively judgmental parenting advice (or as you apparently call it, “you do you”) is the third rail of the Internet.

  11. Fyi, pediatricians actively advise parents against some of these. Especially, infants should have their own sleeping space/crib because sharing a bed / mattress etc with other people increases their risk of suffocation and sudden infant death syndrome. They should also have their own mattress which has been sterilized to minimize the risk of passing on diseases while babies are tiny and their immune system is vulnerable (that’s why it’s difficult to donate baby mattresses, most shelters etc won’t take used ones). Of course you should also wash yourself and your infant with soap not breast milk if you want to minimize risk of disease…

  12. As a 30ish queer parent and a long time Autostraddle lurker – i enjoyed this content and I appreciate the addition of it. Not everything posted on autostraddle applies to me necessarily (or anyone, surely. I’ve always felt like the part of me that enjoys fairly typical Autostraddle content sits a bit separately to the parental/family part of my life. Now not as much 😉

  13. I must say that I agree with a lot of the comments. As a disclaimer, I am young, not a parent, a not completely sure if I ever will be one. Nonetheless I wonder about couple things, primarily how this approach would work when you choose to raise a baby with a partner. Maybe the non-birth giving partner would also like to have a big part in the care giving, requiring bottles for feeding.
    Sleeping in a bed with young children and two adults posses a real risk for suffocation, and I can imagine that the bed pieing might cause some issue.
    Also,I wonder if this parent will be able to keep up this way of caring with two children as I imagine a 4 year old will also need a lot of attention, and uninterrupted nights of sleep.
    Anyway, good luck with the rest of your pregnancy. Even though I might not see eye to eye with you about your approach you seem like a very loving and caring parent and in the end that is the most important thing!

  14. I feel there should be multiple articles for different parenting mammas. While this author must have had a lovely easy baby my baby on the other hand had colic and reflux issues. Meaning I needed to have pacifiers because my boobs were sooooo chapped. Or how a baby swing saved my sanity, or yea I cloth diapered but hey sometimes you don’t wanna do laundry. Parenting is sooooo different for every person. I loved nesting and painting a nursery for my little lady. Pumping and using bottles so I could go on a date was a life saver. There is no wrong or right way. I would love to see an article with other parenting styles.

  15. Funnily enough, my mother did things a similar way by default. She was a single teenage mother on social security (like welfare in the UK), living in a squat without indoor plumbing or electricity.
    There was definitely no car seat though – she hitch-hiked with me to the shops.

    I feel as though society is so judgmental when it comes to parenthood – I certainly feel very defensive about my mother and the way she brought me up, and I can imagine many others feeling the same way, especially if we were fortunate enough to grow up with love. Anything that demonstrates, suggests or exhorts a different way of doing things ESPECIALLY if it is or was unattainable can feel like an attack on our very core, or on those we love.

    I hope as societies we can move towards more options being made available for all of us, supported by our societies.

  16. this was really lovely to read. it definitely got my wanna-make-a-baby oxytocin levels rocking! thank you for sharing your beautiful experiences… inspiring!

  17. I had lots of triggery deep feelings about privilege and my own suckitude as a mom who didn’t live up to this ideal when I read it yesterday and followed the comments develop.

    And then I read it again today and felt less up in arms about it, despite some good critiques the readers have made about privilege.

    On second reading, I felt like all of the hindsight, even where she says “the last four years has flowed beautifully,” was all really written to quell the anxiety she wrote about in the opening paragraphs. She’s about to have another baby. The dynamic will shift. Maybe what worked before won’t work again, and holy shit how do I go about doing this? Maybe I’m reading into it, but as a mom I can look back fondly on some times in my son’s early life with rosy colored glasses that make me want another kid.

    I think my initial reading wouldn’t have been so triggery, if I had felt like it was coming from a place where some of the difficulties were acknowledged. It did feel a bit like reading fashion/beauty advice on loving your body from the most stereotypical cishet beauty queen saying “oh, my skincare routine is just a little water.” I’ll use an example…I listened to my baby’s needs, which meant breastfeeding until he was 2, when he self-weaned. Despite pumping, he REFUSED to take a bottle. Would scream and cry if it was offered, though I had gone back to work. He reverse cycled, meaning that he ate every 2 hours at night to make up for the daytime self-imposed starvation. It was exhausting and I supposed I could have let him scream until he was so hungry that eventually he took a bottle, but I chose not to do that.

    And it was beautiful. But it was also really fucking hard. And thank God I kept journals along the way to remind me of those nights where I was a complete basket case because of it, and yet knowing it was the right thing to do.

    I would love a follow-up from Erin after her second is born. I’m so curious how her 4 year old will adjust, and will any ‘sacrifices’ be made in the goldstar hippie department to ease the transition. I know coping with things being different the second go round has hit some of my friends in their most tender places, and hope that it all works out for her.

    Also…I want to know how I can get time off like she did! I took some weeks, but it was unpaid, and definitely couldn’t just leave my kid without diapers after I went back to work!

  18. I want to appreciate both this article and issues raised in comments. It is the author’s first on AS, I believe, and maybe AS is figuring out how do parenting content(?). I read Elixher’s Our Family a lot, in case anyone is interested. I hope a wider range of ‘me doing me/ my family doing us’ articles can be shared here, and we can make it a supportive place for both writers and readers parenting or not parenting under drastically different conditions. While reading this article, I had ongoing questions like ‘how does this person provide? have access to this land? interact with money?’ I do not imagine that many of these practices will be feasible, or preferable, for me if I decide to parent in the future, but I appreciated learning about how this author parents. I liked the second part of the article the best, since it focused on what the author DOES do. One factor in my experience reading this is that, because I am a white-passing, labeled-able person from an upper-class background, whatever parenting choices I make are likely to be met with a double standard that will likely give me benefit of the doubt. Whatever mainstream purchases I make will be quietly approved and whatever non-conforming choices I make will be ‘cool.’ As someone who plans on needing the approval of social services in order to parent, I want to raise the issue that the more we interact with (and are subject to discrimination by) government agents, the higher the risk a non-conforming choice can & will be used against us and our families. I hope that many intersectional parenting experiences can be shared on AS so we can support each other. Love to all the parents!

    • I think you’re totally right about the second part of the article being better overall. Giving it a second reading, I especially like the idea of having a party to make meals that can be frozen for later use. Having friends and family each contribute a few ingredients and/or a few hours of labor towards making food for an expectant parent/s is a great, cost-effective (much cheaper than prepared food) idea that’s accessible for people accross a wide range of income levels and equally helpful for working and stay at home parents. Having a blessing way is also a lovely idea, and again realistic for people with lower incomes.

      The judgmental/elitist tone of the first section really detracted from the valuable ideas contained in the remainder of peice. Other than the suggestion to take lots of time off (not bad advice per se, but, as many have pointed out, not a viable option for most people), there’s some good stuff there.

  19. Wow, my partner and I are currently looking for a donor to have a child, and even though I sometimes have anxiety about my body and the baby and everything that will come with me having children, I still want the child(ren) more than anything. This article really helped me with the anxiety and all that I occasionally feel. You really brought me peace!

  20. I’m firmly childfree, so I hesitated to chime in here. However, I’ve read and re-read this, and I must. Firstly, I am glad that the author is ABLE to have all these things and take time off and all that jazz. I am also glad her babies were planned rather than accidents. The thing is, though, this doesn’t speak to the majority of mothers. What about single moms who have to give their kids to babysitters and work 3 jobs to make ends meet? Are they bad mothers for not spending enough time with their kids? What about moms who aren’t able bodied, poor moms, moms living in less than idea circumstances?

    I hate to say it, but this came off REALLY elitist. And this is coming from me, someone who has been accused of classism at times because of my refusal to date women who live with parents. So, I am obviously likely less sensitive to classism than some folks here, so, to be a bit of a barometer- yeah. Totally elitist. Sorry, I guess I expect a bit more sensitivity than this from AS.

  21. Reading this was an interesting experience for me. Because on one hand I question the need for all the STUFF people think you need to raise a baby, a lot of this seemed out of reach for most parents. Also, “toxin-free” as a phrase makes my eyes roll so quickly they hurt.

    • If we are talking about ableism in this article, then please realize your attitude towards living “toxin-free” is actually ableist. Many people are disabled by paint, perfume and harmful VOCs and avoiding toxins is out of medical necessity (it’s a disability called multiple chemical sensitivity). It’s admirable that someone wants to prevent their child from the harmful affects of these products which can lead to these sensitivities. I can’t diagnose the author, but it does sound like she has trouble tolerating these products.

      There are many low-budget ways of choosing less toxic stuff (like DIY scent-free baby products, cleaning with baking soda & vinegar, etc).

      • This commenter was spot on as to what I mean by rolling my eyes at the term “toxins” – it’s often misused.

        Also, there’s increasing evidence that MCS may actually be a symptom of mental illnesses rather than a physiological condition. (I don’t say that to belittle sufferers – trust me, I know how real mental illness is! It’s just that avoiding certain chemicals may not actually be the best treatment. More info on that perspective here.

        • Well you just proved my point further that you are being ableist by posting an article that seeks to disprove the validity of my disability and anyone made ill by toxic chemicals. I shouldn’t have to defend myself against crap like this. There are millions of other articles and scientific studies on Google you could have looked up, but instead you went for the one that calls us Quacks. Thanks a lot.

          Please don’t speak on issues like this unless you have firsthand experience dealing with them.

          • “This is a symptom of a mental illness” =/= “This is not real.”

            Like, my mental illnesses are real. My heart really pounds when I’m having a phobia-induced panic attack. I really feel nausea when my anxiety is high. I really feel exhausted when the depression kicks in. I am not trying to say that what you’re feeling isn’t real. I just think there are a lot of signs that the treatment you’re receiving isn’t necessarily going to solve your problems.

            Personally, I think it’s a sign of an ableist society that hucksters (some earnest, I’m sure) are able to sucker people in because they have a physiological explanation (however tenuous) for what is more likely a mental health problem. That’s a sign of a society that thinks mental illness is the worst possible thing and that it’s “all in your head”. Mental illness is real, and there are real treatments for it that can give you relief.

            Whatever you choose, I hope you’re able to find relief soon.

          • This condescending crap is why I face discrimination every day of my life.

            Your mental illness is your own story, stop trying to apply it to mine. You’re not a doctor, you don’t have MCS, you have no idea what you are talking about.

            If you knew anything about MCS you would know that avoidance is the best treatment. The same goes for people suffering migraine headaches from perfume, children who get rashes from scented laundry detergent, people’s asthma getting triggered on an airplane full of people wearing perfume.

            All these people are obviously hucksters!! Please.

          • You are not a huckster.

            The hucksters are the people who are trying to convince you that this is your problem.

            I hope that clarifies things!

  22. Very frustrated with the response to this article. I am aware that the AS is urban focused, but not that there was an outright anger towards though who choose to live rural (yes it is a choice, and I am lucky to be able to do it as well, but it does come with hardships like my groceries being three times more expensive than in urban places, isolation, lack of year round jobs, etc)

    • This has zero to do with them living rurally…which shows you didn’t get the point of the criticism. I grew up rurally, far rurally than this person does I’m 150% certain. As in, four hours away from a grocery store (and the cheapest o those grocery stores were still more expensive than almost anywhere else in the US). We lived incredibly simply, out of necessity–it wasn’t some rich white culturally appropriate person choice. And still, I was NOT raised like this person is deeming to raise their children.”A freezer full of lovingly made nourishing foods” and “Fresh fruit and veggies all the time” is just not attainable anywhere near where I lived, or where my parents currently live. “Booking ample time off” post-partum is fucking laughable, too.
      Again, you missed the whole point.

  23. I have zero criticism of how the author parents and lives; it sounds dreamy! 🙂 I’m also sure that, like all parents, they experience challenges and difficulties that are not directly expressed in this guide, and are juggling and loving and doing the best job they possibly can. Go mama!

    I also found this article an uncomfortable read. It is personal, as admitted by the writer upfront, but I (like others it seems) found the tone unhelpful and not terribly self-reflective, which I think might be why it has rubbed people the wrong way. I work in post-natal support with new parents and infants, and soothing anxieties is the number one challenge of the gig. New parents are usually worried and sleep deprived and absolutely vulnerable to the pressure to consume like mad in order to keep their tiny ones safe/healthy/happy/comfortable/meeting milestones etc. While I can see it was the writer’s intention to provide a calm alternative to the very real Stuff Anxiety, they might have benefitted from an editor or outside ear. Writing is just tricky like that.

    YOU’RE ALL DOING A REALLY GOOD JOB.

    • Yes to this comment! Yes to all of the comments, really, but I appreciate how your comment is carefully crafted to read *not* as a criticism of the author’s life, but as a reflective critique of the troubling aspects of this article.

      So many commenters have discussed, reflectively, what was uncomfortable about this article (you all rock, people), but apparently that was missed by some, such as AS executive editor Laneia. I don’t think she could miss that about your comment, which is why I really want to applaud you. It’s frustrating when discussion, critique, and reflection are assumed to be inherently negative and violent acts, and it’s frustrating when even reflection on that assumption is ignored or assumed to also be negative. This comment is so completely the opposite of negativity or violence that it makes my heart sing after reading through this comment thread.

      Thank you!

  24. I really, really enjoyed this piece. I found the article to be calming and soothing for some reason and like someone said above, I welcome more hippie-geared content on this page, especially in regards to parenting. This mama was a bit more extreme than I want to be, but I still found it to be both inspirational and reassuring.

    In regards to talk about privilege and being elitest, well. I’m fairly confident that saying this will have people telling ME to check my privilege and stop being elitest but… just because it is something that cannot be afforded by everyone does not mean that it is inherently bad or should not be on Autostraddle. There are people here who can afford to do this or want to create this type of life or who asprire to do similar things, maybe on a smaller or less extreme scale or maybe just as extreme. Who knows? I am in the camp that could do some of these things and personally find it a little offensive that the majority of people don’t think this article should have been included just because it didn’t apply to them or was something they couldn’t or wouldn’t do. We are all different here in tons and tons of different ways and I love this website for the diversity. Almost every day, there is at least one article posted that does not interest me, does not apply to me, is not anything I would ever aspire to do…. but that’s what diversity is. It’s an assortment of things, some that apply to you and some that don’t, some things you like and some you don’t.

    Personally, I enjoyed this and would like to see more content like this. There’s so many articles posted (here even) about products and things that people should buy — tech, clothing, food, household decor, etc… I like seeing something that encourages people to buy less and simplify and take a more natural approach. 🙂

    • I don’t think anyone is saying that perspectives coming from places of privilege must be eradicated – or at least, I certainly am not saying that! But at the same time, these issues need to be treated with a sensitivity that was somewhat lacking from the article.

      • I guess I don’t understand. She said upfront that this is what works for her and it may not work for everyone so take from it what you want. I’m not sure what other sensitivity was needed. I don’t know why she should have to be apologetic about sharing her life choices with us.

        • I think it was a number of things that fit into two groups: the tone of the article (which, regardless of the disclaimer, felt pretty judgey to a lot of people) and the content of the article (parenting is a tricky, tricky topic to discuss without divorcing it from your own experience).

          Many of us were raised with parents who put diapers on us and took us to daycare in our prams. Many of us are planning to (or already are!) raising our kids the same way. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – we all make our choices. But parenting is a fraught topic in our culture!

          • I can understand that. As I think Laneia said above, it fits into a larger group of articles about parenting and baby-making, though. It is one person’s experience. I think it’s funny that everyone is up in arms and calling privilege when a woman lives in the woods, sleeps on the floor, bathes in a metal tub she took from a field… but it’s not mentioned at all in articles that discuss $20,000 a cycle IVF treatment and nearly $10,000 in sperm. My wife and I make very good money, but IVF is something that is way out of our league. I wasn’t upset to read about it here, though. Everyone does make different choices when it comes to making babies and parenting them. I don’t know why that can’t just be accepted without ridicule. It’s not like it was Gwenyth Paltrow pushing $5000 cashmere baby blankets… it was a woman who lives off the grid!I guess the tone didn’t come off as judgy to me because I am familiar with this tone. My naturopath, my midwife, my acupuncturist all talk the same way. They do believe their choices are better and healthier and they aren’t shy about sharing that. I just wish people could admit it’s not their cup of tea without having to make it into a conversation about something it is not.

  25. wow. lady, your life sounds beautiful. who could say no to wrapping themselves and their baby in loose cashmere and apparently very rarely working, and only from home?

    it is clear that this writer has had some fascinating and wonderful experiences in parenting that would be interesting and educational for many. even those of us sitting here very upset right now. but, the amount of unchecked privilege was so nauseating and condescending, it was hard to get the good stuff. like many other comments said, they had to go back a second time and take it in again when they weren’t so angry.

    i would honestly love to hear more about her homesteady life. there is a lot i could and want to learn from it, but it would be hard to get to that really insightful and useful stuff unless it was written from a more open, self-conscious viewpoint.

    and for the record, i am cis, white, somewhat of a hippy, and have a lot of privilege.

  26. My only problem with this article is that it is presented as a list of things that many people need/want followed by reasons why the author thinks they are wrong.

    There isn’t anything I think shouldn’t have been said, just the way the majority of the article was structured made it come across far more negatively than intended.

    That being said I would love to hear from the author further down the line to hear how their expectations for this pregnancy relate to reality.

    tl;dr Valid choices, awkwardly presented. Would like to hear more from in the future.

    • Yes. I think you hit it right on the head.

      I think there is a great deal of monetary privilege that’s not addressed except in brief passing in many of the parenting narratives we’ve read so far – not just this one.

      Rather than a list of products and why they don’t work for this particular parent (which by default, can’t come off as not judgmental), I also would have loved to hear more about how this individual was in a position to create the environment they want for their child, their plans for shifting it to a two-child space, and some contemplation of the ways in which their identities make it possible to raise a child in this way without state intervention/interference. They sound really fascinating and I would love to hear more about their parenting experiences.

  27. I wonder, as just my own opinion, if part of the problem laid in the lack of a queer narrative? I understand that the author is genderqueer, but I wanted to see how that intersection (along with being single in a rural area) affected their life as a parent.

    What did their family think of “going solo with a baby”? What are some difficulties of and strategies for living in a rural area as a single parent? What is it like being friends with your donor? How did their gender fluidity interact with the dominating “motherhood is the pinnacle of womanhood” narrative we are inundated with in the media, baby stores and even doctor’s offices? How is a queer single parent able to thrive so magnificently (when it seems, given other articles, that it’s no cake walk)?

    Because, I mean, did we really need a list of posh baby products? This author genuinely seems like a lovely human, but I wanted to see more of the human and less of the moses baskets.

  28. I would like to point out that there are studies showing a correlation between babies sleeping on sheep skins and sudden infant death Syndrome (possibly due to overheating). In Germany, where I live, it’s very strongly recommended to not use sheep skins as bedding for babies under 1 year of age because they cannot regulate their body temperature yet.

    • Also it is not recommended to have your child in bed with you, you could roll over and the baby could suffocate.

      That’s something that bothers me with this article. The author makes it sound as though many things people do are just way too dangerous (changing table i.e.) and they are a better parent for not taking these risks. They take way bigger risks though.

      You could also argue that carrying your baby all the time might not be the best idea. I totally respect their approach to this, but they make it sound like it’s the RIGHT thing, the baby’s biggest need and all that and people who don’t just aren’t really seeing their babies needs.

      Also, who wakes up because they feel the baby’s need to pee? Super Mom, the article seems to tell me.

  29. I clicked on this article because my partner and I are beginning to plan to have a child together. I loved the ideas that the author shared, and I took all advice with a grain of salt. She (obviously) is very lucky to live in a country that affords new parents ample time off, has access to privilege, etc.. Never did I feel like the author is judging anyone, not even with my own history of growing up in government housing with a single alcoholic mother nor did I feel judged by the decisions my partner and I will make as parents. It is just advice, as with all advice take what you want/can from it and do your own thing. Want advice about best practices for parenting on a low income in the consumerist U.S.? Want advice from parents that live in other countries? Want to share your own story? Contact the editors at AS, they seem to care a great deal about this community I’m sure you’d get a response to your needs.

    I used to look to the AS comment section to hear fresh ideas, and different perspectives, and I think in the future I will ignore them just as I do most other website comments. cya!

  30. I thought this was a lovely and interesting piece. It’s not how I would choose to do motherhood myself, but I can appreciate learning about different approaches to life and parenting. The idea of living in the woods and raising some babies in nature does appeal to me, but not something I could ever do.
    I think you are brave to voice your own opinions and perspectives. Ignore the negative commenters. Some people, it seems, can only boost their own sense of self-esteem by looking for opportunities to put others down, but they are not worth your time.

  31. There are many ways to parent. This is simply one of them. While it may seem extreme or privileged (and maybe it it) this still offers a different perspective. It’s thought provoking. It’s meant to cause you to question the choices you make.

    These are the choices one parent made, and good on them! The choices you make are for you to make. There’s no one right way to parent. It’s all about what’s the right way for you and your family.

  32. Ugh. First of all, part of being a goddamn adult involves being open to criticism. “You Do You” should not mean abandon logic at the door. The comment section is not “BEING MEAN” “JUDGMENTAL” “HATERY” et cetera by addressing the flaws in this approach.

    Most of my thoughts on this have already been addressed, but I’ll just add that the author is really fucking lucky that co-sleeping didn’t kill her child due to the increased risk of SIDS, and is even luckier that home-birthing didn’t kill or maim the kid or herself. My schizophrenic mother had more sense and still lost her first child to SIDS.

    Educate yourself on the medical history of women and act like you got some sense. Feminists in less developed countries must be both angered and fucking baffled by this movement to neglect the scientific advances in women’s health. This ethos is foolish ungratefulness fueled by a desire to be hippier than thou.

    I generally love Autostraddle, but between this and the tarot stuff am getting tired of the anti-science tilt. This sort of crap contributes to women being taken less seriously, particularly in the STEM fields. This impacts our economic and social status, and as such should be taken seriously.

    • There’s a lot to critique here, for sure, but I disagree that Autostraddle is developing an “anti-science tilt”. There are science and tech related articles all the time (and the last parenting article was part of a series about conceiving through IVF). There are also articles about queer celebrities, cooking, poetry, sex toys, you name it. Queer ladies are diverse, with diverse interests. If an article isn’t your style, you don’t have to read it. I personally love the tarot articles, but I don’t think that’s inherently “anti-science.” Just because I like to play with cards doesn’t mean I think vaccines are evil and the moon landing was faked.

      And I don’t think that the kind of assholes who don’t take women seriously in STEM are browsing Autostraddle, all like, “Gosh, I used to take women seriously, but now that I’ve read this article about femslash, I just can’t. Time to throw out my binder full of women.”

      • You’re right about my STEM comment, this is to an extent preaching to the choir. My concern is more the tone-policing of folks with very valid concerns about the author’s approach to parenting. Fact is, not all ideas and actions are equally valid, and if those ideas and actions don’t stand up to scrutiny, Autostraddle staffers shouldn’t try to squash criticism with some “you do you” non-sense. Parenting is the epitome of “no man is an island”; the decisions we make affect others, sometimes badly.

        Unrelated, but loving your Tina icon.

        • True enough! There are tons of ways to parent or become a parent, and many, if not most, of them are none of anyone’s business (it’s no skin off my nose whether someone is self-inseminating with a friend’s sperm or using IVF to carry their partner’s eggs, for example), but there are some that could potentially endanger either the child or others (the obvious example is refusing to vaccinate, though I don’t mean to imply that the author takes this stance). In such cases, I don’t think that “parental choice” negates any criticism of those choices. I do think that criticism can be delivered with civility.

          And thanks! Tina inspires me. 🙂

    • Hey, I’m the Geekery editor here and I used to work for a big tech company and I can code and I love science!

      I also pull a tarot card for myself every morning.

      Coming from my very specific place in the universe, I love that I can love both. And I love that I work for a website that presents all different sorts of content.

      • I get the impression that some Autostraddle editors can manage the diversity of viewpoints in the comments section with more objectivity, respect, appreciation in regard to the context’s of an individual’s (author and commenter’s) intersectionality better than others, while enabling elaboration, disabling ad hominem attacks, and distinguishing “tone argument” tactics from advocacy for furthering discussion on recognising and understanding the impact of social justice themes on people’s choices and contexts.

        There is a major difference between constructive criticism of content of someone’s experience, irrespective of how valid that experience is for that individual, and destructive criticism of that individual’s same experience. The distinction is that constructive criticism enables a diversity of views, and encourages discussion, and is not invested in agreement. Agreement is overrated, and is futile because it reinforces a myth that there is only One Way and One Truth etc, and to shut a worthwhile discussion down because of a perceived “destructive criticism”, may say more about the perception at the time, of the editor, than it does about the commenters.

        Also, some authors are perhaps more transparent and aware of declaring their intersecting privileges, the compromises/choices made in their context which impacted their current living situation, and their background/history than others.

        The author put her opinions together and wrote this piece, and no one has to do anything with it, beyond taking, if anything, what they perceive as valuable, from it. Anything else is a bonus. That this content inspired reflection on the practical applicability of the author’s parenting strategy to the commenters lives is great. It is more than ok that the author is called out to elaborate on her priveleges, her background, her specific context that enables and supports her to achieve this strategy. If commenters want to find out *how* she achieved this, then that is ok. Maybe they want the opportunity to test it out for themselves, if that is possible for them. Of course, because it is one person’s very specific experience, applicability might be by virtue of privelege, only eligible for a particular few. Then the issue arises of what is the value of this advice/experience? People will make their own minds up about issues, and to deny that this will happen is unrealistic. This has been a respectful discussion.

        This is a good outcome, if you can apply it, that’s great, if not, that is great too. I would prefer to have honest discussion anyday than dishonesty in a discussion.

  33. I’m having a problem with all the comments on here about elitism and privilege…Let me be very clear about why I’m here…Her language and narrative brought me here – how she speaks about her interaction with and participation in the world around her. She’s not saying you’re wrong if you diaper your baby. She says at every turn ‘I’m lucky because I can do this and that and the other’, not once ‘I’m better than you because I…’. Her language is different. Her lifestyle is different. I have zero compunction to live as she does and would have zero means to do so. You call it elitism, but I call it intolerance of differing lifestyles and a gut reaction to her language and tone of her article (and not on her part). It’s like we read two different articles. So disappointing to read those comments. SMH.

  34. I’m really happy to see this perspective on Autostraddle and in general happy to hear stories from people who approach parenting differently than I would. Thank you for sharing your story, Erin!

    I think the format (mostly the frequent use of second person, but also something about the list format that I can’t quite put my finger on) makes it feel like an advice column, and the weird melding of what was intended as a personal essay into a format that feels like it goes with an advice column should probably be avoided in the future.

  35. How is this a queer article? I really can’t differentiate between her and numerous straight hippie moms. I mean, I guess she didn’t enjoy the TTC part (which isn’t mentioned but I’m guessing isn’t ‘natural’ but this person doesn’t use diapers or soap so who knows), but the day-to-day obsessive motherhood is exactly the same and it’s reminiscent of the moral panic from conservatives about how babies need women to not have careers/ambitions outside the home.

  36. The main problem with this article is that it’s a list of stuff that most parents get/do for practical reasons and why the author’s way is better. I mean, probably 99.9 of parents use diapers of some kind. I think cosleeping with a diaperless baby is very unusual, so if you imply that’s the best way, you’re going to piss off lots of parents who value their sleep and not getting pissed on and shat on any more than strictly necessary by implying we’re not as attuned to our babies. Let alone issues related to having to work. The disclaimer doesn’t negate the tone.

    I hope someone from AS clarifies that comments that criticize the content or tone of a piece are acceptable.

  37. i wanted to let you know that the author hasn’t joined this conversation for a couple of reasons — 1. erin lives entirely off the grid (they typed and sent their first two submissions via a borrowed cell phone) so they don’t have daily access to an internet connection. 2. (and most importantly) they gave birth to their baby on wednesday and are currently in the NICU with her. both are doing well.

  38. Thank you for this article! I am not planning to have children right now but would like to in the future and when I think about that future, it is easy to start getting filled up with anxiety. This article felt like the author was telling us (and herself) “it’s ok, you will be fine”. I also really appreciated the suggestions for ways to involve the people in your life. My dad loves to can and freeze food and I’m getting excited (years too early!) imagining us doing this together 🙂

  39. So I agree with a) most of the comments critiquing the tone and implied privilege, and b) that the majority of these comments have been articulated in a generally respectful way. I was also disappointed by the editorial response, given how civil the discussion was.

    I also wanted to add, that perhaps the reason that a lot of us didn’t feel comfortable with the tone, is because it was’t quite as vulnerable and ‘real talk’ as what most of us are used to on AS.
    And perhaps for good reason. If the author is completely of the grid without daily internet she probably doesn’t read AS as regularly as a lot of us, or even at all… not that that means that her perspective isn’t valid to be included here – but that she might know see how her article sits within the general tone of the site.

    The whole ‘This is how I do things and my life is great’ is a more mainstream approach to lifestyle writing. What I love about AS is that authors get really raw and really personal and give us the good, the bad and the ugly along with their successes. And the community respects that vulnerability in the comments.
    Parenting is really hard – from pre-conception onwards – and besides a throwaway reference to Mastitis and some impending anxiety, the author came across as simply listing her successes, and so what a lot of people read into it was “it’s so easy, you’re just over complicating it with your useless consumerism”
    Which probably was 110% not intentional, but still, ‘ouch’.

    Topically I am quite interested in both alternative parenting and less consumerism but what I would have liked to see is some real talk. What about financial stress of time off? When that time ends how to juggle working from home with a kid in the background? The isolation of a lifestyle like that? Judgement from more conventional family and friends? Temptation to cave and buy something against her ethos to make life easier…?

    I think even for some of us that see aspects of her situation as our ‘dream’ scenario, it seems really unachieveable and a bit braggy without any advice on how to get in that situation yourself (Freelancing? trust fund?? former career on Wall Street? ) and how to overcome the challenges that come with it.

    • I agree that there are some genuine criticisms in the comments. I think that the editors should have looked a little more closely at elements of this essay/list – I think with slightly more careful wording this might not have received the criticisms it did. I also think that we don’t have the right to ask someone to lay out the more difficult areas of their parenting experience (such as not having as much support from family/friends as they needed) in a public forum. AS is for everyone, including the better off and alternative lifestyle individuals.

      As someone who comes from a society where paid Maternity/Paternity leave is a thing, for those without supportive and available family (e.g., grandparents), working with a young one is often more expensive than taking time off. For this reason, I think that given that this person seems to live almost off-the-grid, it may not have occurred to her to go into the cost of leading this lifestyle anymore than I might go into detailed analysis about my privilege of having running water while writing a hypothetical article about fitting a shower (I have never fitted a shower). It may not have even been the more expensive option, for the first part of her childs’ life.

      Also, although she doesn’t mention what her job is, she makes a reference to being able to work with her child still with her. This is extremely uncommon but coupled with available maternity leave may explain part of how she can afford it.

      Given her lifestyle, it really wouldn’t surprise me if she grew lots of the vegetables she eats.

      Plus, she does mention using nappies when out and about or when meeting others who don’t like EC. This doesn’t necessarily mean she spends all of her time home.

      Is this a rare scenario? Yes. Was it intended to come off as preachy? Probably not.

      • I hear you when you say that you can’t ask or demand someone be more raw in a public space, but the way I see it is like this:

        Most lifestyle writing aimed at women-identifed people (both on internet and in print) is the equivalent of that schoolfriend/cousin/ex-colleague who fills your social media with glossy pics of her green smoothies, perfect hair and #blessed life. Sometimes it’s actually inspiring, and part of you is happy her life is so great but somehow most of the time it just ends up making you feel like you’re doing it wrong and aren’t as evolved because you don’t genuinely like broccoli and banana blended together (and maybe thats why your skin doesn’t glow like hers?!)

        Autostraddle is your best friend who can read your soul and rocks up at your place on a monday night with your beverage of choice and eats your slightly burnt pizza while you both voice your darkest fears about whether your LTR has messed up your career and whether her obsession with her bosses boobs mean that she is just as awful as some sleazy cis-het dude or if she can put a post-feminist spin on it.
        Then you fall asleep on each other while trying to rehearse what you would say if you were standing behind Samira Wiley in an airport queue.

        For me this article was like doing activity B with friend A and getting halfway there but it just not quite working out the way you planned…

  40. Wow is my inner punk rebelling at the language in this article!

    I’m totally for anti-consumerism and think people don’t need half the crap that is marketed to new parents, but it would be nice to see this message presented in a way that didn’t use ultra-hippy language like a ‘blessing way’, talismans and mindfulness.

  41. This is one of those “all natural” bullshit ideas that reminds me of moms who won’t vaccinate their children. I don’t care about whether or not you chose to repaint your nursery. But co-sleeping and having the baby sleep with blankets (if that’s what the clothes are for, or if you sleep with blankets) increases the risk of suffocation or SIDS. I think someone attached ONE study saying co-sleeping doesn’t matter. Oh, one study? This somehow invalidates all the other studies that disagree? Let’s do a comparison of studies in peer-reviewed journals, not parenting magazines. If you want to sleep near your baby, have your baby sleep in a crib without blankets next to your bed.
    Let’s not confuse a rejection of disposable diapers (totally reasonable) with doing things that are shown to increase infant mortality.

  42. This article is clearly one person’s approach to parenting. I found the content both interesting and shocking. I believe these pieces are meant to show different perspectives/approaches. We can take what we want from the information provided. I didn’t feel that the author was insisting this is the best/only way to do it. Let’s be honest, how many of us are confident enough to “sense” our children’s need to eliminate? Not me, for one, but I learned that there are people out there that do that.

  43. 1. I am glad to hear baby and parent are doing well.

    2. I 100% completely and totally understand and respect that the author may not want to write here, or even about parenting at all, again (while also hearing and agreeing with the comments about tone, content, and lack of intersectional awareness) but I do hope they eventually write about what their lifestyle looks like parenting two children–since there is so much out there about how two children under X age are hell, or that the second is SO much easier, and I think reading beyond the Bugaboo-and-formula-and-sleep-training set is interesting and broadening.

    (If anyone is interested in an expectations-vs-reality mommy memoir, I really liked The Big Rumpus by Ayun Halliday, who is pretty good about acknowledging where she is privileged though it’s not anti-oppression-informed, so normie microaggressions are in there.)

  44. I’ve raised four babies with a pretty similar parenting approach. There’s a lot of judgment in parenting and everyone feels pretty strongly about it, so I won’t bother saying which parts I didn’t do or why (that said, diaper free, for me, was more like a fun gambling game crossed with a “one more tool when they fuss” thing than a super-mom thing – more pattern than instinct).

    I realize that not all of AS is queer. I mean, I read the recipes. I would have liked to have read more about the queer parts of the bio in the article.

    I’m fascinated with learning how other queer parents navigate things like:

    Co-parenting!!

    Gender neutrality and non-conformity for both parents and children.

    Coming out to our kids.

    Coming out in front of our kids.

    When/where/if/how to come out about family structure.

    Choosing names/titles for parents.

    Age appropriate gender expression and sex ed discussions.

    Body image.

    Puberty.

    Boys in women’s spaces.

    Division of labor.

    Navigating relationships with everyone. Lovers, co-parents, donors, donor siblings, parents of donor siblings, grandparents.

    Queer family structures.

    Media.

    Break ups.

    Dating (parents dating and handling kids dating).

    Blended families.

    Pride.

    Travel.

    Legal issues.

    How choices are made about who will carry, or when.

    Parenting roles.

    Non-gestational parenting issues.

    Intimacy after babies.

  45. As at least one other person mentioned, I would like to see more about how the author’s gender-queerness impacts their parenting choices and the way they live their life in general. There wasn’t any of that at all in the article. Also, I wasn’t sure whether all of the photos illustrating the piece were actual photos of the author or stock photos, but they all (including the avatar) appeared to me to be photos of someone who at least “passes” as a gender-normative cis woman — not that a gender-queer identity has to be manifested in any particular way (just as trans people don’t necessarily have to transition to be trans), but how one is generally perceived is also something that obviously has practical effects on one’s life, and I think would be of more interest to the readership of a site like this than a passing reference to gender-queerness.

    I would also be interested in hearing more about what it’s like, and how it works in practice, to be a single parent who “co-parents” with a straight male who provided the genetic material. If there are times he has the baby with him on his own, does he follow the same co-sleeping and attachment parenting and no-diaper practices?

    • I was confused by the author being a single parent, and “co-parenting”, also, and what were/are the supports and resources they receive from the “co-parent”.

      A little more detail to provide context to the definition of single and co-parenting, so that any readers might try to practically apply this situation/strategy to their lives to see if it works for them.

      • I would love clarification on the co-parenting, too! I mean, as a bisexual woman, I technically co-parent with my straight male bestie, too. I happen to be married to him, and not a single mom. But I would love more info on the family structure setup!

  46. After reading the comments, agreeing with a lot that has been said and learning some new things, I just re-read the article. And it is really well written when read as a personal account of looking for the best way to be a parent – for Erin. I hope she comes back to write more, maybe with aan adjusted tone or form. Because as most commenters also noted: this is fascinating stuff that we would love to talk about more!

  47. Parenting is a deeply personal endeavor, and each parent must make many choices about what works for themselves and for their children. I think perhaps the writer could have avoided some of the hubbub in the comments if they had stayed a little bit closer to relating their own experience and a little bit further from sounding like they might be judging/stating that their choices just might be best for any family. Probably a list wasn’t the best format for this personal essay about Erin’s experience as a parent. With the help of a good editor, it might make for a lovely and fascinating read about Erin’s particularly natural or “feral” experience with their newborn(s).

  48. I just wanted to say thanks to everybody who took the time to provide constructive feedback on this piece and think critically about why it rubbed so many of our readers the wrong way or worse. I also really appreciate a few of the more recent comments on this thread with suggestions for future pieces from her and other parents, ways to frame this information differently — we want these things too! many of them i have mentioned in past business or art fixes and laneia has talked about wanting in other threads, so I hope those pitches come in. That has all been truly awesome. And of course it’s always okay to talk about how money, ability and racism shape what choices queer parents can make.

    It happens every now and then that something we put before you is read in a radically different way by readers than it is by team members… this post did that but it wasn’t just team members reading it differently, but different groups of readers. IS IT WHITE AND GOLD OR BLACK AND BLUE. it’s completely possible for two different people to read the same exact words in vastly disparate ways. That happened here. I didn’t read this ’til after it went up, but when I did, I went into it knowing only this: Erin washes herself in a bathtub scavenged from a junkyard (’cause Rachel had quoted that line to me when she read it, because, omg!), Erin wrote this post on a borrowed cell phone, and Erin is unemployed. I’d also just read an article on the Billfold (literally hours earlier) by this girl who didn’t work very much but didn’t want to, instead she just figured out how to live without ever spending money. it blew my mind. so I projected that reading onto this one, assuming she could do all these intensive parenting things ’cause she lived in the woods and never made OR spent money. ?? retty much every suggestion she made I thought to myself “NOPE, that’s not for me!” “NOPE, i cannot do that because i am not into this earthy stuff.” “NOPE, can’t do that because i am the worst?” but I feel like the worst reading Health Magazine, too! Honestly it was a trip! It was a total trip, and it was really interesting and got me thinking about things I’d never thought about before, learning about things I didn’t know that people did. Maybe coming at it from behind the curtain instead of in front of it, knowing before reading it that it wasn’t going to speak to me specifically gave me a distance … it felt like the worst case scenario would be that it read like a parody of itself. But the piece is the author’s truth and it’s about what worked for her, and she seemed happy, and I knew this kind of parenting could speak to our readers even if it’s not my style personally. Obviously the list format, the pictures, and several other adjustments would’ve been better packaging for her loving intent.

    Going back and re-reading it after reading some of your takes on it; I could totally see how it could be read radically differently to the point of seeming offensive, regardless of intent. I know other issues have been raised that we’re still mulling over but I just wanted you to know that we’ve read your responses and are thinking about them!

    • Thank you for this reply, Riese. I kind of understand the author better now and feel less upset about this post.

      I really hope Erin comes back to write other posts. This one did kind of give me a weird feeling. But also it was so interesting. It is so so not the way I want to raise my kids but so so interesting and I imagine even I could take something from it.

      It’s like these kids grow up in a different world, what is this world like? I just love the idea that these kids won’t learn that the color pink is for girls, boys don’t wear skirts and what an iPad is.

      Please Erin, keep telling us about your life and how you raise your kids, how your queerness has an influence and how co-parenting works for you and your friend. Does he live in the woods too?

      Also, congratulations to the new addition to your family.

    • I’m not so earthy anymore, but many of these parenting practices (the doing without) could be done while squatting. It’s free to do without (especially if you have a partner, working opposite shifts because you make less than the cost of childcare is a thing). There’s also a whole natural parenting lifestyle full of worry about chemicals. You can go either way really easily.

    • Thanks for this response, Riese, both for the peek “behind the curtain” as to the editorial mindset toward this piece and for the validation of the various concerns raised in the comments. Knowing that y’all are taking those things under consideration does make it easier for me to enjoy the things I really like about this piece. Although it doesn’t speak to my needs or lifestyle, I would like to see more content from this (and/or similar) perspectives, and I appreciate what you guys are doing to put up as much content as possible to reflect the richness and diversity of the queer experience.

    • Thank you for this reply Reise. I found this peice flawed but interesting, and appreciated the thoughtful discussion that it generated. Honestly, I found Laneia’s comment much more off-putting than the article itself and I’m glad that another editor stepped in to offer a more thoughful response.

      Understanding your reading of the peice makes it much clearer why certain issues, such as the author’s privledge, weren’t fully addressed. Like most of those who commented, I assumed that the fact that Erin doesn’t need to work much to support themself meant that they were quite wealthy, but I see how one might come to a different conclusion.

      I’m sure they are currently exteremly busy with their new baby, but it would be interesting to hear more from Erin in the future about how they fund their lifestyle and how they manage co-parenting with their friend. Does he provide for the family financially? What role does he play in the children’s lives?

  49. thanks so much for this reply, Riese. i think on most other websites i would have just been annoyed and not felt like it was worth it to even comment. to me commenting means actually having faith that a conversation can happen which is pretty amazing.

    your breakdown of your reading makes a lot of sense. often when i read lifestyle type articles my response is along the lines of “well yeah that’s probs what i SHOULD do lol, too bad i’m a mess of a human being LOLLLLL” and i just forget about it. i am still not totally clear about why it’s so hard for me to do with this piece but it has something to do w/ the anti-consumerism tone i guess. a commenter right above here says something like “it’s free to do without” and to me that’s the crux of the conflict people are having here – to me (and others apparently) it’s REALLY REALLY NOT free to do without. or at least it costs different amounts for different people. like i absolutely cannot do without, for example, certain types of medical care that are only available to me if i like, work a regular job and have extra income and a car.

    anyway, thanks for listening.

    (and fwiw, i still think laneia’s comment is way out of line)

  50. This article was really interesting to read, in a “how-the-other-half-lives” way. I can safely say that I will most likely be using all the items the author didn’t use when I adopt my own kiddos, and that the frozen food party sounds like a fantastic idea!

    I agree with other commenters about the tone issue and how it can seem judgey. I think not having kids helped me not feel judged? I know motherhood can be a very anxious time, and society loves to judge and denounce female parenting. I do love hearing about different approaches to parenting, and I’m sure the Autostraddler editors do, too!

  51. Hello everyone. I’m Erin, the author… I’ve stepped back from writing here but I thought I’d share a few helpful details here since there was such an unexpected and enormous response.

    I appreciate the feedback, critical, supportive, presumptuous, mean spirited, all of it.

    I am a low income Mom with a permanent disability. I am self employed and I work from home making custom therapeutic sensory wares, mainly for children with sensory issues, people in grief, and elders. Most of my lifestyle choices were discovered as a means of managing my own sensory issues while finding economical solutions (for example, all my luxurious cashmere is reclaimed, meaning about three dollars an item).

    I am aware of my Privelege. .. especially right now as my new infant undergoes hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cleft lip and palate repairs (and donated flights from Hope Air). Where I live in Canada, all these medical expenses are covered and free to me. I am unbelievably grateful to live in the forest (with ridiculously cheap rent) alongside my children, my greatest joy. I cannot be shamed for my Privelege. I utilize it as a launching board to assist others, mainly via outreach programs with vulnerable demographics. When my children are older I will be working in/returning to the neuroscience field (thank-you disability grants to attend university)… neurofeedback training, trauma healing. Sometimes I find the Privelege finger wagging become a weapon to muzzle happiness rather than a means to educate, illuminate and empower. Tricky stuff.

    Queerness? I’m not sure if I’m really welcome here (for a number of reasons), and a few comments stood out to me. First off, I’m not a feminist lesbian if that’s the general vibe here. I’m a – gendered, pansexual, mostly celibate unless deeply devoted or conceiving children. My two daughter’s father (not just a donor) is a dear friend of over twenty years. My girls were conceived lovingly and sexually. We are not partners. This unconventional family configuration and my gender identity has been received as a no big deal in my family and local community. What does a queer person look like? What is a queer article? Am I not queer enough?

    There is so much I could clear up, but this 167 comment pouncing didn’t really provide the breathing room to feel safe to open further. Right now I’m at a medical facility with my very first cell phone, pecking out an unedited response, with one finger as a newborn naps on my chest before today’s long clinic day. I just wanted to send out a little smile to everyone and mention that my choices are my own, my (apparently infuriating) lists are how I organize my thoughts, not prescriptive, and I live well below Canada’sPoverty line (which is well above the world’s norm), and my family is well nourished and deeply fulfilled. I just wanted to share, I apologize if my tone felt elitist or braggy… judge. .. whatever. I came here to celebrate. Not well received. Fair enough. I’m heading to a community that might find my input useful and are interested in my new parenting adventures (with a new bebe rocking an extra chromosome, yay trisomy 21!). This was a great learning experience but just far too intense and filled with mistrust.

    big hippie (giggle, ahhhhhhhh the hippie label again) mad love everybody

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