by Anne Rush
My son and I have only been babywearing for a short while, but have become quite infatuated with it. We tried out a Moby and an Ergo early on after Victor was born, but I never had the Moby where it felt supportive and he hated how he was positioned in the Ergo and would cry every time I wore him in it. I was about to give up wearing when I changed day cares and met Anna Williams at the new one.
Anna used a ring sling with her daughter August and made it seem like a breeze. Around the same time, I ran across an Oscha sale and decided to get my own ring sling to try. I had been a silent and inactive member of the Facebook group till that point. However, patience is not one of my virtues, and now that I had financially committed to a ring sling I finally went to a meeting to learn how to use one better and borrow one from the lending library till mine arrived. That was the July 2014 meeting. The same day we borrowed it, we went to a non-stroller friendly fairgrounds. The ring sling saved the day… and mom’s back and arms. I was sold on babywearing right then and when Lua Mellman Lepianka posted a tablecloth conversion ring sling for sale in a peacock print – even though I had another ring sling – I snagged it so we could immediately begin wearing.
At the first July meeting, I was fascinated by the wrapping, but was pretty certain it would take us months to become advanced enough to do that. Less than a month later, my love of fabric had overtaken my fear of wrapping and I was lusting over various wraps. When I saw that Didymos had released a peacock eye pattern, I was in love and internet stalked it till I tracked one down and ordered it… from France. Anna broke that one in for us and gave us lessons on breaking in on our own. I have bought a few more since then and am slowly learning different carries and gaining confidence. Now we have several more wraps at home and on the way…
This past week – August 17-23 – has marked even more progress. Instead of just wrapping at home, I have successfully wrapped in public twice now! Only really simple carries, but one must start somewhere. I have handed out several babywearing cards inviting some of my mom friend to join; I have given out two ring slings to other moms as baby gift hoping to “infect” the with the babywearing bug; I helped out at a babywearing education booth gushing to perfect strangers about the wonders of babywearing. And my personal favorite, Victor has gotten to love being wrapped. He has always been a cuddly baby and enjoyed being carried. We have been going for walks for the past several weeks either in a ring sling or wrapped. Last night when I got a wrap out to get ready to go on our walk, he started bouncing, grinning, and cooing in anticipation.
Writing this has really made me ponder why babywearing is so important to me. Victor is a laid back baby and was mostly content being in a swing or bounce chair, so unlike others it did not save my sanity or my marriage. I did not realize it at first, but it has and continues to forge a special bond between me and Victor, one that I thought I would not be able to have when we learned breastfeeding would not be possible for us. I knew for a long time that I wanted to breastfeed my babies. I have six younger siblings and fourteen nieces and nephews almost all of which were breastfed. In addition to the digestive and immune system benefits to baby, I witnessed firsthand the special bond it creates between mother and child. I have known since I was very young that I wanted that bond between me and my baby when I finally had children. I was devastated when I realized I would not be able to breastfeed Victor. I had previously been diagnosed with poly-cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) but did not realize the full ramifications of that diagnosis. It varies for different people – my sister has it and breastfed twins! – but for me it resulted in insufficient glandular tissue and even after hundreds of dollars of supplements, prescription medications, and a hospital grade pump, I was still only producing 5-7oz a day. For the first several months Victor would still nurse but would then need to supplement with donor milk or formula. As he got older, he became impatient with nursing since my supply was so low and refused to nurse so I was pumping and giving him milk via a bottle when he got to be around five months old.
Around that time was when we got our second wind with babywearing. At first my fascination with it was more based on my love of sewing and fabric. I might have a semi-unhealthy collection of fabric waiting for sewing projects. Babywearing – and wrapping in particular – appealed to me in that I was basically getting large swaths of beautiful fabric that were immediately ready to use… and with my baby!! As we have been wearing more and more and I see my son get excited about being bundled up close to me, I have found the true importance of babywearing. I am reforging the bond I thought I had lost when we stopped nursing. I love being close to my baby and he loves being close to me. It calms him when he is fussy. It allows us to spend more time together and develop a closer mother/baby bond.
Lua had tried to get us active in babywearing back when Victor was a newborn. I wish I’d listened to her promptings earlier. We are still very early on our path but I am very happy to have discovered babywearing and am glad to be on the journey with such a great group of people.