When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I told my mother that once he was born, I was never going to put him down. She rolled her eyes and said I’d get sick of that pretty quick.
But I never did put him down. And I never got sick of it, either.
Baby-buckets had always baffled me. They looked like a chiropractic nightmare, a thrown-out back waiting to happen. And they were so much – stuff. First you needed the bucket, and then the carrying handle, then the toys, then the blankets, then the stroller-cum-travel-system, then the car mirror, then the Bundle-Me, then –
The first time I visited Babies R Us pregnant, I left in tears.
I went home, took a deep breath, and started googling. Surely, people somewhere in the world managed to have children without burying themselves in an avalanche must-have products. We weren’t poor. But it just seemed like so much, so overwhelming. Didn’t people use some kind of sling-carrier thingies?
I found the Moby wrap. It seemed simple: one piece of cloth. I found some other sites too, something about rebozos or something, but that seemed really out there and obscure. I could buy a Moby wrap locally, and it didn’t look too complicated. One piece of cloth: tie it, insert baby. So we avoided the bucket and the stroller and the swing and the toys and the mirror and bought two Moby wraps. Because babies barf, right? I practiced a few times, beforehand. Then, at two days old, Bear wrapped Manic Pixie Boy (then Manic Pixie Angry Potato) for the first time.
We mostly didn’t unwrap him for months. The Angry Potato slept in the wrap. He ate in the wrap (though that took some practice). When he wasn’t in the wrap, one of us was generally wearing it empty, waiting to put him back in it, which made us look like cut-rate Jedi Knights (Obi-Wannabes?). When he developed horrible, near-failure-to-thrive-levels of reflux, the wrap kept him upright and happy. And so we had a baby without all the stuff of modern babydom. It was pretty awesome.
But once the Angry Potato became less of an angry potato and more of a baby, the Moby wrap started to sag and stretch. There had to be more ways of wearing this thing, I knew. So I started googling again. And this time, I found The Babywearer, then-mecca of all things wrap-related.
I learned about woven wraps: long pieces of cloth like a Moby, but without the stretch. You could use a woven to wrap your baby on your back. I was hooked.
The links led me to the babywearing forums, where I found a few scattered local women who wrapped. They were, I joked, the coolest and least-sketchy people ever met through the internet. They lent me a woven wrap and taught me how to use it. We talked about baby carriers. We talked about wraps. But just as (and maybe more) importantly, we talked about being new mamas (or not-so-new mamas). I had never seen anyone else nurse a baby. I certainly didn’t know anyone else without a crib, or anyone who had used a midwife. Every woman needs someone to hear her birth story. I came for the wraps. But I found a tribe.
Those six or seven mamas have expanded into a Facebook group without over 300 members. It’s not just about carrying our babies; it’s about staying close to them and to each other, about getting much-needed help and advice and love. Now I have the joy of helping new mamas wrap their babies. I get to see the best thing, the most beautiful and happy thing: that moment when a mama finally adjusts the carrier just right, and her baby melts against her. It’s magic – or the polar opposite of magic, the deep, beautiful rawness of being human. The motherhood that opens the most primal heart of us and makes us whole.
Three years and (almost – only a few months now!) three babies later, we’re still wrapping. I help new mothers with all kinds of different carriers, from pouches to mei tais, from ring slings to soft-structured carriers like Ergos and Becos. I can teach you how to get your baby onto your back, or nurse hands-free, or clean your bathroom while your baby naps on your hip. But we can also talk about your difficult birth, or your nursing struggles. Through our facebook group, you can find babywearing help – and mamas who also use formula, or cribs, or co-sleep, or eat vegan, or just need spare hands to chase their two-year-olds. We love babies. And we love helping mamas with babies.
Your life should be richer for having children. That doesn’t mean it should come with lots of stuff. I’m so glad I walked out of Babies R Us that day. My kids are happier for it. And so am I.