When I got pregnant, I knew I wanted to wear my baby. I would look at women carting around those carriers, leaning to the side with the weight of them, and think, There has to be a better way. So instead of registering for a stroller and a carrier, we bought a convertible car seat and two Moby wraps — one tan and one brown, just in case one needed washing.
My husband was the first to deal with it. In the hospital room, he watched a YouTube video, threw some fabric this way and that, and comfortably inserted a tiny baby. He then taught me how to do it, and I wore Blaise out of the hospital.
Most of the time after that, whenever I got out of bed and he wasn’t being changed, he was wrapped. At 4 days old, I wore him to Christmas mass. At a week old, he went to his first national park. At 2 weeks, we were hiking with the German shepherd carrying the diapers. I shouldn’t have been up and out that early — no wonder I bled for six weeks — but I wanted to be.
I wanted my life back, and wrapping gave it to me, especially once I learned how to loosen it and drop Blaise down to nurse. We went to an oyster bar, sat at the long bar with other patrons, and shucked oysters. We hiked. We attended mass. We went to nice restaurants. We also did dishes, cleaned the house, and fed the dogs.
Not only did we get our social life back, but we could also care for domestic life as well. For two people with no family in nearby, this was important. When my mother-in-law did come down, she marveled at how well we were handling this baby thing. “You’re acting like this is your third or fourth, not your first,” she said. That’s because we could put Blaise in the Moby wrap and keep on going with real life.
Babywearing also kept me healthy. I’ve had major depressive episodes throughout my life, including perinatal depression. I’d had to go on medication while I was pregnant with Blaise. I was at high risk for postpartum depression. Babywearing helped that. It’s been proven that touch is a protective factor against PPD, and babywearing is pretty much constant touch. I spent my time kissing my newborn’s head and playing with his feet. That, plus the ability to return to my real life as soon as possible, I believe is what kept me from PPD.
I was happy, whole, and functioning, all thanks to this piece of cloth. But I knew there had to be more ways to tie it. I went online and found the forums at thebabywearer.com. There were other mothers there — other mothers in my area! We set up a meeting at a woman’s house.
I was terrified. I was taking my baby to meet random people I’d met on the internet. But once inside, I realized I’d found my tribe. I’d never seen anyone else breastfeed before — or formula feed, like Melissa. I’d never talked to any other mother who co-slept, like Marishannon. Nor had I seen the other kinds of carriers that Christi and Brandi brought — a ring sling, a woven wrap, and a pouch. They helped me wrap Blaise in each of them. I went home and bought a woven wrap.
I spent my early motherhood wrapped in the bosom of the babywearing community. It was so open and so caring. Some mamas used formula. Some mamas used cribs. Some mamas carried their babies in the carriers I so hated when I was pregnant. I learned to accept them all. In turn, I got friends who understood my parenting, who understood the struggles I went through, things like 2-year-old tantrums, 4-year-old drama, and 5-year-old brutality. They celebrated each time I had a baby and brought meals when we needed them. We weathered the death of a friend’s baby. I still count many from that community as my dear friends.
Babywearing saved me. It gave me my life back. It kept me from PPD. Most of all, it gave me a group of mom friends, and every mom, everywhere, needs mom friends. I went from a simple Moby wrap, to whipping my baby up on my back in a woven carrier, to being an official babywearing educator where I got the joy of helping new mothers get their lives back too.
The Moby wrap gave us a great postpartum period. But babywearing gave us a great babyhood too. In fact, I don’t know how I’d have done babyhood without it. And I’m grateful, for my sanity, for my life, for the friends I made. But mostly, I’m grateful for those hours spent cuddling my babies.