The spring of my fifth pregnancy we took the kids to Washington DC to see the sights, the capital, museums, monuments, the zoo, etc., For some reason I had a bad feeling that something was wrong with the baby. My husband said I was being silly. When we got back to Vermont I called the midwife and went in for an impromptu appointment. She got out the Doppler machine and began searching for the heartbeat, you know the sound, it’s arguably the most beautiful sound ever heard to an expectant mother.
She could not find a heartbeat with the Doppler and sent me to Dr. Malcolm's office where Bob met me in the parking lot. We were both crying. He asked me, "So there's no hope?" and we embraced. The ultrasound devastatingly confirmed my worst fears; my baby's heart had stopped beating. His words still ring in my ears, "I"m looking for cardiac activity, and I'm not seeing any.."
We opted to go through labor and delivery as opposed to having surgery. Everyone thought I was crazy. I was in shock, and utter sorrow, despair, depression, you name it. I wanted this baby so badly, and everything seemed to be going so well.
We told the girls later that night. Bob is really sad too. He's (Jason) gone to heaven in spirit, but his little body is still inside me. I'm sorry if it’s politically incorrect or disturbing to say so, but I HAVE A DEAD BABY IN MY BELLY!!! Knowing this made the pain even more unbearable. I didn't want to even look at my belly, or touch it. God was surely giving me grace to get through this because I knew I didn’t have the strength to carry on, on my own. Part of me wanted to run away and jump off a cliff, part of me wanted to stab the heart in my chest-just to make it stop hurting. I felt so numb. I had a feeling a few weeks ago that I'd lost the baby and I wanted to be wrong! I wanted to be so wrong! Heck, we laughed about it, Bob said I was being silly. Part of me wanted to crawl in bed and never get out.
I was 19 weeks pregnant. After twelve hours of labor I did get to hold my baby boy. We named him Jason Russell. We had a small memorial service at our little country church in Panton. My father, a carpenter had made me a tiny coffin, just bigger than a shoe box. We buried him a pasture on my husband’s farm near Mill Pond, a place where Bob has fond child hood memories at.
Two months later I would become pregnant again, and after a zillion ultrasounds due to my panicked state of fear that history would repeat itself, we discovered that this baby too, was a boy. The remainder of the pregnancy was experienced with bated breath, with hope, with fear laced faith. Praise God, our soI started using baby carriers, or "babywearing", shortly after the birth of my eldest daughter. I found that lugging around the heavy and awkward infant car seat was difficult at best, damaging to my back at worst. Babywearing allowed me to be mobile, hands free and pain free, all the while having the added benefit of bonding with my baby. Babywearing was empowering to me as a young mother on the go.
With each child we added to our family, so too did I add to my babywearing "stash". I discovered the mei tai carrier, the soft structured carrier, the pouch sling, the ring sling, the stretchy wrap, etc., I not ashamed to admit that my babywearing journey began with a simple harness style carrier called the Bjorn, (it was steely grey with pinstripes and toggle closures). But, (clearly), it is woven wraps that have stolen my heart.
Recently, I have been increasingly fascinated and in awe of traditional babywearing practices of other cultures all over the world. Particularly, the women in the French Congo, who have a nifty little term for babywearing my family and I have adopted, "au dos", literally translated meaning, "on the back". Beau au dos has become a common phrase in our home as of late. The coincidental rhyming has been just the cheery on top!n Beau Robert was born healthy in the wee hours of the morning two days past his due date.
I became a local babywearing group co-facilitator, (September 8th, 2012 was our first meeting; pictured at right are Amanda and I doing our very first "Intro to Babywearing" demo!), and later tried my hand on the retail end of the babywearing business, helping to found and establish an on-line babywearing store. When that chapter closed, I carried on and waited for the next door to open.
And so the journey to create an American woven baby wrap company began to take form in the summer of 2013.
The following nine months would include research, taking classes at the Women’s Small Business Center, more research, writing a business plan, applying for a business loan, contacting vendors, working with designers, etc.
Starting a business is no joke. I don’t think I knew exactly what I was getting into, but I took it all with joy. The long nights, the early mornings, business trips and setbacks, determination and the unwavering belief in your dream, that what you are embarking on is truly worthwhile, that is what keeps you going.
Below is the progression of our logo:
What I did not account for, what I did not know how to handle was cyber bullying. That’s right cyber bullying. And not just from random people on the internet, but from other babywearers, other mothers. They began a smear campaign that would rival the most contested political campaigns, in fact, they could all easily find employment in this field. They would go to wherever babyweaerrs gathered on Facebook and in other various forums, and spread lies about me and my company. It was devastating.
When it happens to teenagers we call it “Cyber Bullying”; and if a teen, tragically, takes their own life as a result of the emotional damage resulted from the bullying, news is made. Debates are fraught. School board meetings are held. Parents and community members are outraged. And rightfully so.
But what happens when these acts happen to adults, from adults? Well, let me just say that you had better have a thick skin. You had better be ready to pull your sleeves up and trudge through the murky waters ahead. I could have cowered in the corner and continued to cry. I could have thrown in the towel and given up on this fledgling business of mine, but I did not, I will not.
I will carry on, because I know this clique is the minority, and that the majority of the community is loving, generous, compassionate, inclusive, caring and devoted to helping parents discover all of the joys and benefits that come with babywearing. Over time, I pray that the on-line the babywearing community will see these bullies for exactly what they are, and I pray that they well come to know the truth, the real me.