Saturday, September 26, 2009

Celebrating International Babywearing Week!

I remember how excited I was when the Sacajawea dollar came out in 2000. I was a brand new mother who was so enamored with her little guy and so excited to do everything "naturally." Babywearing was one of the things I jumped into wholeheartedly. I wore Jakob everywhere, I had only a Maya wrap ring sling, but he was always there if we were out, and most of the time at home too. Then, here comes the new Sacajawea dollar coin celebrating a strong babywearing mama who trekked across the entire country, with only breasts and a papoose for her baby boy. I was inspired!

Since then, babywearing has become even more important to me. I can remember arguing with my mom and husband about bringing the "bucket" into a restaurant. "Just let him sleep, don't move him." (I was always trying to get him in that sling, even if it was all twisted up & crazy looking :) When my bucket car seat got too old we replaced it with a convertible car seat that doesn't leave the car, so the sling is where baby goes, even if he's asleep & baby gets used to going right back to sleep as I walk. I am freaky about it, I will sling my little Ramsay from the car to the house these days just so I can carry everything in.

What really made me a fanatic about keeping babies close was something I noticed when I sat and held my second son in the hospital every day for 7 weeks. He was in a coma after his birth and he never did wake up, and died 7 weeks later. Every day of his short life I sat and held him for hours. When I would wash up at the NICU door I could see the monitor that gave me a quick update on his health that day. Oxygen sats, heartrate, etc. Sometimes his oxygen saturation would be below 90% as I sat down next to him. As soon as I picked him up it would go to 100% and stay there until I had to go home. It was a small miracle that I got to see each time I held him. The second night of his life his doctor prepared us to let him go, but we held him the entire night and he rebounded. He was super sick that night, but for whatever reason, he stayed for awhile and I'm so glad he did. If a baby that everyone said wasn't aware of anything was able to love being held, then imagine how it would benefit any baby to be held.

Because of that experience with Alistair I never miss a chance to cuddle one of my babies. When I'm rushing to get someplace, I put on the sling, drop the baby in and go...and I'm instantly calmer...just because baby is close. I love being able to dart in out of the preschool hallways or see what I want in crowded museums. I love shopping and stopping to get sweet smiles from my littlest. I love hearing my older boys tell me, "put the baby on, mom!" I love that there is a week celebrating babywearing, it is such a great thing to get the word out about. Although I am a volunteer LC, I do think keeping a baby close may be more important even than what they eat. I can think of many babies that weren't able to get breastmilk, but were held, a lot, or kept close at night, and they are so connected and so secure. One day when I am no longer blessed to have a little baby, babywearing will probably be what I miss most.


Elizabeth said...

Your comment about feeling better yourself when you hold the baby resonates with me. I tell people that I think babywearing was part of what saved me from postpartum depression. I felt calmer when I held her close, and it was just reassuring because it seemed like SOMETHING I could do, since most of the time I was sort of baffled by what on earth it was I was supposed to do with my little one. I remember when she was maybe a month old we went out on a day of errands, and since my husband had returned to work and didn't get as much time with her during the week as he would like, he wore her all day. By the end of the day, he could tell I was getting agitated and just taking her back from him when she needed to nurse made me so much calmer. We made sure I got plenty of babywearing time even when he was around after that.

The other thing I remember is that when my in-laws came to visit after the birth and saw how much we were holding her, my mother-in-law kept saying that Adriana was such a needy baby. And all I could think was, "The only thing I have to do to calm her down is put her in this pouch. That doesn't seem like very much to need at all!"

Adventures In Babywearing said...

Oh, what a story... I am so sorry for the loss of your son. How blessed he was to have you hold him all his life.


clara said...

Elizabeth, thanks for that example. I feel like it all just slows down and gets manageable when baby is on, as long as he's on & not mad about it! I agree, its not needy at all to want to be held, its a normal baby mammal!

clara said...

Steph, thank you. My post took a different turn than I planned, but I credit my second son a lot with helping me be more relaxed as a mother & also helping me enjoy the time that babies are little and holding the heck out of them. All the baby einstein in the world can't compare to the developmental benefits of holding the baby! :)

Lindsay said...

Thank you for posting this. I read a lot of articles about skin to skin helping sick babies and I know exactly how it feels to hold my NICU baby and watch her sats rise and rise. Its so amazing to hear the nurses say "Whoa, she likes that!" I cant wear Sophia but I DO hold her close as much as possible and we are BOTH healing really well from the birth/NICU stay!


shineliketheSon said...

As you know I too LOVE babywearing...I now have 5 different ones, can we say obsessed! Anyway, I loved the part about Alistair, so very sweet that he teaches you even today. Sweet sweet baby boy <3

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I'm just a mom in the world. A crunchy Catholic mama of 6 trying to make sense of it all and stay positive. 5 boys here & 1 in heaven. One awesome man who I get to grow old with. I help new moms breastfeed. I`m happy. I don`t go to shows or dance clubs every night but I would if I could. Where`s the nanny? When I see her she`s SO fired! One of my boys is super sweet and sensitive, another one is a holy terror. I learn a ton from all of them daily. Like Nigella says, as any parent of small children knows,there comes a point in the day where you can`t go any further without a drink! I love cocktail hour. I`d like nothing more than to be with my family and some good friends surrounded by tropical plants drinking a margarita listening to the Eagles. I don`t care about trendy, I like that grungy 70`s vibe.