Note: This post has nothing to do with the history of babywearing. This is purely my personal experience.
Before my first child was born, I knew I wanted to be a babywearer, although I didn’t exactly know what that meant. I shopped around online trying to figure out what the best carrier would be, and I put a couple on my baby registry. We got the K’Tan and I loved it. It was the perfect mix of the comfort of a wrap, without the intimidating miles (ok, meters) of fabric and the complicated wrapping. It kept my baby close and snug, and it had several carry options.
But somewhere around the fourth month, as Little Monster grew and grew, it just wasn’t as comfortable. She was getting more mobile. I wanted something more versatile. Something I could wear on my back. Something that wouldn’t be so hot in the Florida summer. Something that would grow with her. This was before our local babywearing group was organized and I didn’t know where to turn for advice. For fear of investing in something I hated, that didn’t fit us well, that would only last a short time, I didn’t buy anything. And I lost the fervor for babywearing.
Fast forward a year and change, and we were expecting another little one, due two weeks after Little Monster’s second birthday. I knew I needed to master this babywearing thing to take care of a new baby and a Little Monster at the same time. Our local babywearing group had just become an affiliated chapter with Babywearing International, Inc., and wouldn’t you know, one of Little Monster’s first daycare friend’s mom was one of the leaders of the chapter. I found that many of my cloth diaper mom acquaintances were also in the babywearing group. I discovered another babywearing mom right in our teeny tiny dot on the map outside of town who was a Volunteer Babywearing Educator in Training.
I asked for advice in the Facebook group. I was on a budget. I needed something that would last. Preferably something Hubby could use too. Wrapping was the suggested carrier. But I got sticker shock looking at new wraps online. So one of my friends suggested a tablecloth shorty. It’s a DIY short wrap made from a woven tablecloth. Since only half of the width of the tablecloth is needed to make the wrap, we agreed on a pattern and split it.
Around 7 months pregnant, I met my dot-on-the-map friend at the park with my tablecloth shorty cut, hemmed, and ready to use. She showed me how to carry Little Monster on my back with a pregnant belly – Ruck CCCB (Ruck with a candy cane chest belt). I saw how effortlessly she carried her little one. How she dozed off to sleep while we walked around the park. I was in love with this wrapping thing. Little Monster was excited to be so close. To be high up and see the world around her. To snuggle into my back and rest her head.
I tried making a linen DIY long wrap, somewhere around a size 7 or 8, and that became known as the Velcro Anaconda. And so I was introduced to Risaroo Wovens, and found Sagitta Aquarius, which would be released a week later. I sheepishly told hubby that yes, it is an expensive piece of fabric, but there’s just no way I can make something for less and have it be safe and comfortable. We had a baby shower a few days later, and since we didn’t need a whole awful lot we ended up with many cash gifts. I used those gifts to buy my first real wrap.
Little Miss was born and by the end of her first day of life, I was wearing her in the K’Tan. Somehow in our rush to the hospital I forgot to pack my wrap. The next day Hubby brought Aquarius and I attempted a FWCC (front wrap cross carry) with my newborn. Oh, it was so comfortable! She was so squishy and close and instantly settled into the wrap. During my maternity leave, instead of taking naps in her crib, she usually slept on my chest while I went outside and played with Little Monster. It really was the fourth trimester. She was still attached to me, but on the outside instead of in my womb.
I officially joined the babywearing group, went to a meeting, and borrowed a ring sling. I loved how quick it was to get her in it while still having a secure carry and free hands. When my month with the borrowed ring sling was over, and I was scheduled to return to work, I converted my tablecloth shorty into a ring sling. It was a life saver to get two little people and all of our stuff to the car, to daycare, and back home again. There were a few days I decided that I could do without, and I regretted it each time. Our routine during these months were ring sling for daycare, wrap for dinner prep, and wrap to go to sleep every night.
When Little Miss was seven months old I quit my job to pursue our homesteading dreams. I started using the Infantino Meh Dai that was gifted to us more frequently, as a quicker option than wrapping, but more comfortable than the ring sling for longer rides. This was a carrier I didn’t mind getting a little dirty on the farm, and one I could use on my front or back. These first months home really expanded my wearing. I tried all kinds of new wrap carries. I often wore Little Miss and Little Monster in tandem. I discovered I could put Little Miss in a ring sling while running out the door to herd cows out of our yard. She knew the animal feeding schedule, and if I didn’t start to wear her around 4pm each day, she would fuss for a ride until I went and did my chores – with her on my back. I felt like a true babywearer.
By her first birthday, I was pregnant again. We continued to wear throughout the pregnancy. I was just getting to the point that only back carries were comfortable over my growing belly. And then at five months we lost our baby. When we came home from the ultrasound I scooped up Little Miss and snuggled her in our wrap. I did our nightly pacing around the kitchen to get her to sleep. As I was in the hospital the next day for delivery, I lamented that for the first time in her life, Little Miss wasn’t worn. The next day my mom said that she did in fact wear her to get her to sleep. She didn’t know what she was doing, but she held Little Miss and wrapped the fabric around her a whole bunch of times. This human swaddling comforted her to sleep while Mommy and Daddy were gone. And it comforted me to know that Little Miss didn’t miss a day of wearing despite our family’s tragedy. It would be at least a week before my body was strong enough to wear her again. In that time, my mom learned more about wrapping, and Hubby learned how to use our WCMT (wrap conversion meh dai).
Friends and family rallied around us in our loss. My babywearing friends gifted me a custom Risaroo Kerrington Pearl ring sling with engraved rings, “Carry you with Faith,” among other things. A babywearing gift for the baby that never came home. A ring sling to carry my Littles while remembering Baby Faith.
I was soon pregnant again. My body was starting to get tired from all the pregnancies and babies in quick succession. When Little Miss was 19 months old, a day passed without wearing. These days would become more frequent as I struggled just to stay off bed rest due to SPD (symphysis pubis dysfunction) and early contractions. Wearing a 25lb toddler was not part of light work duty.
Baby Skywalker was born and I actually remembered my wrap in the hospital, but I didn’t use it. I just wanted to snuggle him in bed. I never wanted to let him go. After having aching arms after our loss, I just wanted to hold my baby. Upon returning home I started wearing him. Wearing him in my Faith ring sling was healing. But he was such an easy baby he didn’t need the swaddling comfort of the wrap as much. Everything was different with this child, and my babywearing habits were different too. I still love the convenience of wearing, and the closeness it brings us, but this time it is more of a tool instead of an obsession.
With a toddler and a preschooler, I have had a hard time wrapping. I love the feel, the versatility, the beauty – but it takes time. I oftentimes end up breaking up an argument between the girls, or someone needs a butt cleaned, or spit up, or something. Anything. Always mid wrap. This time of year makes it hard to wrap too. It is just so hot. The farm has grown, and chores have become more time consuming and… dirtier. It is simply too hot to wear Little Man all wrapped up while cleaning a goat barn, and I don’t want wrap tails dragging on the dirty barn floor as I unwrap and wrap him out there. I often skip out on wearing at all, knowing that I’m just going to get him down when we get to our destination, but I always regret that decision as I’m juggling tools, feed, and a baby – and he’s not a lightweight. Not to mention the invariability in which I always have something come up that needs immediate attention.
I have been borrowing all kinds of new carriers from the lending library for this guy. Buckle carriers. Onbuhimos. Meh dais. Each one is so different in its construction and fit. I have borrowed wraps aplenty too, but they generally sit on my own pile of wraps, virtually unused. I have really enjoyed exploring all these carriers that never worked for me before, but are the perfect solution for this kid. For this lifestyle. For this season in life.
I have learned in these almost five years of babywearing, that babywearing itself is very fluid. It ebbs and flows through the seasons of my children’s lives, and as my own lifestyle changes. When Little Monster was a baby I expected to buy one or two carriers and use them for the rest of her life and for all my subsequent babies. But I realize now that that was never realistic. Babies grow. Reasons for wearing change. In a few short years, my lifestyle changed dramatically. Manufacturers are always coming out with something new and different. My mom wisdom grows.
Our babywearing group’s lending library has saved me hundreds of dollars as I experiment with different options to find the perfect carrier to invest in. But I need to remember that no carrier is meant to last forever. And so, as I deliberate what to do with two very special wraps that have been folded up on my table for over two months, I am reminded of my journey through babywearing. How from the moment I wore Little Monster for the first time, I was a babywearer. Through my masterful wearing of Little Miss, I was a babywearer. My missed opportunities with Baby Faith made me no less a babywearer. And even with my sporadic and evolving wearing of Baby Skywalker, I am still a babywearer. No matter how much or how little I wear. Regardless of the style of carrier I choose. No matter the reason I wear. I am a babywearer.
Babywearing is a part of my journey of motherhood. It is an evolution. I should feel no guilt over selling wraps or chopping them or whatever I resolve to do. Because whatever I choose will not last forever either. My babywearing days will not last forever. My family will continue to grow and evolve. This is simply the evolution of babywearing.