Last week my six and two-year-olds made "parachutes" out of grocery bags, with one loop over each shoulder like a back pack. Kind of reminded me of a ruck-sack carry! They had a blast running around the yard, parachuting into Ninja territroy with Barbi and Hot Wheels. Today the bags are in the lawn, abandoned. I suppose I should go pick them up...
For those of us with school aged children, the last couple weeks have marked the beginning of the school year, for me, I mean, aside from an unkempt lawn, the migration back into the halls, soccer fields and chalk boards has been a welcome change. One such byproduct has translated into this work-at-home mama having more time to work in the Poe office.
This series, seeks to address some of those issues, commonalities, as well as to help shed some light on the many beautiful aspects of babywearing, mothering, (note: Poe knows father's babywear too, though we might change the moniker to "handsome" for dad's!), and how the two have mingled. We will be interviewing women, (if you're a babywearing dad interested in this project, we would love to interview you, please email us!), of various ages from all over the world.
Reading over our Babywearing Made Beautiful questionnaires has been more than a little emotional and a whole lot of uplifting. This week you get to meet Christy, and hear her amazing story. The only difficult part was in choosing a quote to share with you as a bit of a teaser, as I wanted to bold and highlight practically her whole submission! So here's your teaser before diving in: "There is no better feeling on earth when I get her in her wrap and she falls quickly to sleep. From her warm breath, to her baby coos, to the sucking on her hand, to our contentment for both of us…it is the best."
1. Tell us a little about yourself: (name, where you live, family size, kids, occupation—SAHM is totally an occupation BTW, hobbies, unknown fact or funny story)
"My name is Christy and I live in Tucson, AZ, but moved to the desert of the Old Pueblo from the Motor City- talk about a climate change. We moved here for a promotion not knowing anyone and never even visited prior to. I am 37, my husband just turned the big 4-0 and my daughter, Stella Joy is three months and two weeks old. I am a federal investigator, let’s leave it at that, and my husband is now a stay at home dad and caregiver for my father who has Alzheimer’s. I would say my biggest hobby right now is babywearing. I also do local food swaps and I used to swap niche perfumes. Now I am onto babywearing swaps- I am sensing a pattern. I am also big time into Yelp and was even featured on their national blog!
2. Tell us a little about your mothering journey, have the infant and toddler years been easy or difficult for you, completely blissful or somewhere in the middle? Tell us about a challenge you overcame.
"Let’s see…we got married in January 2012 and three months after our wedding I was sent to an intensive federal training camp for six long weeks in North Carolina. I called it my honeymoon, though hubs was not with me, and I had to get maced in the face and engage in daily combat and firing of weapons….hardly a honeymoon. Goal one: DON’T get pregnant prior to training! After I got home, it was what I called “Operation Baby”. However, due to my “advanced maternal age” and overly voluptuous body I was convinced I was going to have to head down the fertility treatment highway. I was so convinced. Then came the fear of the government shutdown and real fear of our only income being taken away after moving across the country. My period was late and I took a test that came out negative. Found out I kept my job…insert sigh of relief. Still no period…guess it’s not stress. Went on a mini-staycation at a local resort for my husband’s birthday and the Desert Museum brought an owl. For some bizarre reason, I started balling. A man in the crowd approached and asked if I used to own an owl. I thought to myself, you moron, no one owns owls…I kept that inside and said, it’s just so beautiful. Well, wouldn’t you know, the reason I was balling was I was pregnant! I was on the hormone rollercoaster. The moment I have dreamt of was finally here!! Yes, I married late, but I was literally a two year old who played dress up in her mother’s wedding dress. I always felt, once I was married and had children, my “real life would begin”.
As far as challenges, I dreamt of breastfeeding. Stocked up on nursing bras, tanks, had my mom custom order a glider for nursing, pimped out my boppy, and yes, I had babycarriers and even attended babywearing meetings prior to her birth. I had tons of books on order through the library. I know my mother personally regretted not being able to breastfeed and so I dreamt of it. Little did I know, Stella had other plans. Maybe it was her tongue tie, maybe nipple confusion, who knows. But I tried to breastfeed and instead of the glorious bonding moment, she screamed and cried at my breast. Three months and two weeks later, I am still holding on to the dream. I thought I was fine being an exclusive pumper, until I was at my babywearing meeting and all the lovely ladies were nursing. One of our educators informed me of a lactation consultant that really helped her at our local birthing center. I ran home and called immediately. Unfortunately, since I did not deliver there, I could not be seen. At that moment, I realized how much it meant to me as I was crying so hard, I had to hang up the phone. I did eventually see a consultant, but she still refused to latch.
I was blasted a double whammy too. I had a low supply. I tried fenugreek until I was sweating maple syrup, the tea, the bars, the cookies, oatmeal/flax/kale/brewers yeast smoothies, more milk plus, milky…you name it I tried it. Guess I was not going to need the two different kinds of nursing pads or the milk saver or the lecithin for my imaginary over supply. The pump my insurance gave me did nothing for me, so I hand pumped for almost three months straight. Now I am finally using a hospital grade rental, which I am trying to convince my insurance company should pay."
3. Since giving birth, have you struggled with maintaining a positive body and self-image or self-esteem? What has helped? What has hurt?
"I am overweight. I have been since college. Luckily, I only gained 10 pounds while pregnant and left the hospital weighing less than prior to conception. I tried so hard to eat healthy for my baby. I was put through ringer due to my AMA and weight while pregnant and felt so judged. I love myself and have accepted my figure. However, I also love fashion and the plus size shopping is the pits. I want my daughter to be an open and accepting individual that appreciates all shapes and sizes. I adore the book The Bodies of Mothers: A Beautiful Body Project by Jade Beal. It is done by a local photographer and many of my babywearing members are included. Inside you see stretch marks, c-section scars, rolls, cellulite, but really you don’t focus on any of these things. You read their stories of motherhood and see their beauty, strength, resilience, pain and you will weep. Oh, how I want to be included among their beauty…and I am a woman who can’t stand her picture taken.
As I may have come to terms with my weight, I still struggle with wanting more for my daughter. I want her to be proud of who I am. I want her to be able to shop in any store. I want her to be healthy and active. I want better for her."
4. How were you originally introduced to babywearing? Were you mentored/assisted by an experienced babywearer, educator or consultant? What were your initial thoughts on the practice then compared to now?
"Here’s my evolution: A local mama, posted a picture of her chevron hipster Tula and I immediately had stars in my eyes. She informed me of a local, independent business, and I quickly made a babywearing consultation. I knew I was getting the sugar skull Tula without a doubt. I got my Tula, which little did I know I can’t even use for months and months. It was my gateway carrier. I also fell for ring slings…they seemed so simple. I remember she showed me her Dolcinos and stretchy wraps and I thought I could never master that. It seemed so beyond me. Then I attended our BWI meeting for beginners…I was prob. three months pregnant at the time.
About a week later I went to PAX baby and ordered a Girasol and had it sent to sleeping baby productions to turn into a ring sling…it was a bday present to myself. I practiced on my Chihuahuas. Sadly, I never mastered the ring sling. Then she was here! Our first babywearing love was our K'tan. My husband was beginning to sense a real babywearing addiction, but marveled at how she would instantly fall asleep when worn. Oh no! Someone local posted of a mei tai at Ross…I ran! (and then sent it to my grandma to be customized) Then I brought home my first woven wrap from the lending library and it was love. I so did not want to return it. I talked about wraps non stop! How many baby carriers does one need, my husband constantly asked. I spent hours upon hours on facebook joining every group and swap I could. Then someone posted about $60 Ergos at Target…I ran!
Then came the International Babywearing Conference. I took my husband, daughter and father to Tempe. Finally, my husband saw I was not the only crazy person out there. I sold my ring sling at the conference and while sitting in the backseat on the drive home I bought my first wrap from my cell phone. A week later, I got another from the swaps. Now, this Friday a preorder is opening and the design is up my alley. I went from, 'I could never use a wrap', to I must own all the wraps! I love the varieties, the carries, the closeness, her smile…oh that smile.
I have been mentored so much by our babywearing educators and my bwi group so much! Plus, those online videos are a life saver."
5. What are your thoughts on the babywearing community, both online and locally? Have your experiences been pleasant? Does your area have a local babywearing group?
Everything has been extremely positive online and locally. Being alone in a new town is rough, especially when you are a first time mother. They have provided so much more than tips on carries but support and a place to vent. I love our educational classes and I always come away feeling more confident as a babywearer. (And finding a new wrap to lust over)
However, there is definitely an evolution to your stages of babywearing… and with that comes the addiction. I can’t wait to see the documentary Highly Sought After. A local mama wrote this:
Evolution of a babywearing addict in 10 stages:
1. Those wraps are pretty, but way too complicated. I’ll stick to my Ergo.
2. Maybe I could pull that off, but who would spend that sort of cash on a piece of fabric?
3. Okay, just one. I mean I don’t need more than that. What are those ladies with, like, 20 wraps thinking? Who needs that many things to carry a baby?
4. I really should have two, just for some variety…
5. Oooooh! Look at that one! Signs into paypal
6. I wonder how much I could pawn our TV for. Maybe it would be enough for an Oscha Raja Paravel…
7. Well, I obviously HAVE to buy that one, too…
8. How do those ladies with, like, 20 wrap do it? I want 20 wraps! No fair
9. Just one more. Then I’m satisfied for sure.
10. BUY ALL THE WRAPS.
That pretty much sums it up. By Lauren Daley of Tucson BWI"
6. Would you consider yourself into “attachment parenting”? Which aspects of AP to you find fit well with your family and lifestyle? Which do not?
"I am all for attachment parenting and want a strong emotional bond with my child. I wanted skin to skin immediately after birth. I wanted breastfeeding, but pumping will have to do. I feel like she needs to be worn and I need to wear her. She is her calmest in a wrap. She sleeps in our room…we have a snuggle nest, a bassinet, a swing…and after our early morning feed I snuggle with her in my arms, despite the warnings. Oh, she does have a crib and her own room, we are just not ready yet!
Though my husband sees the benefits of babywearing, he has yet taken the plunge. I hope he does soon. He tries on the ergo but hasn’t busted it out. At times he thinks I hold her too much. He needs to see the light himself."
7. Do you babywear often? During which activities do you most often babywear during? How has babywearing affected you as a mother and caretaker of small children?
"I am working full time, but I love to get in at least one good session a day. When I am home on weekends and need to get things done I love wrapping her up. I also get so proud that she fell asleep or I mastered a new carry I have been known to “peacock” around my sub…so far no one has noticed. I love when I get nods of approval in grocery stores while wearing. It breaks my heart when I hear people share stories of other’s disapproval. I feel like it has made our bond much stronger and she sees my body as her comfort. It feels so amazing to soothe her and feel her warm breath against my skin and hear our hearts beat as one. I love watching her tiny fingers stroking the soft beautiful fabric as she finds her happy place."
8. Though there is not much, more beautiful to a mother than the site of her newborn baby, which aspects of mothering do you find most beautiful? Rocking a baby sleep, reading books, kissing away boo boos? (It’s ok to choose more than one!)
"I have to say, there is nothing more beautiful to see her face light up and a huge smile spread across her face in reaction to you. I waited 37 years to see that face. It melts me, and brings tears of joy."
9. When you wear your baby, (in your carrier of choice), how does it make you feel? How does it make your child feel? Have others in your family joined in the babywearing fun?
"It makes me feel amazing when I master a new carry and look how far I have come from thinking I can never understand how to wrap. There is no better feeling on earth when I get her in her wrap and she falls quickly to sleep. From her warm breath, to her baby coos, to the sucking on her hand, to our contentment for both of us…it is the best. I like to think she feels close, bonded, connected, safe, happy, content and loved. People are amazed at how content she is. No one has joined in, but they want to take pictures or have me demonstrate.
I think my husband is almost ready for the SSC. Now if I can just get him addicted to wraps my world would be oh so more perfecto. He has gone from not understanding to you should wrap her or which wrap are we bringing to the store. His own evolution. It makes me feel proud, accomplished, and gasp a good mother (and coming from an only child who was afraid of babies- that’s a lot to say). I love, love, love seeing babywearers in public and love looks of admiration. Most importantly, it’s the first and ONLY time in two years I have felt a part of something…a part of a community…which was so huge for me."
10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?
Babywearing has taken some of the pain away from returning to work. I mean it feels great to be a strong, working woman who supports her family…but it is hard leaving your loving husband and brand new baby daily. It gives us something to look forward to. That special moment of her and I at peace, breathing the same air, being wrapped up together. It also allows, my husband and I some time for each other.
Babywearing is a learning opportunity for each of us…new techniques, new carries. She gets to see the world as I see it, we experience it together…and there is nothing like seeing the world for the first time through her eyes and smiles. It does make me feel beautiful…I can pick any of the rich, bold, soft, colorful wraps I want. (something a plus size shopper can appreciate)
The feel of the textiles around my body, wrapping my baby oh so close makes me glow. I can’t help but smile at the mere thought. No one is looking at anyone’s flaws while babywearing…they just see a proud mama and a happy baby. I am beautiful because I created life and I get to share life with her. Beauty is more than physical activeness. Our bodies are capable of so much, and beauty lies so deep within your soul. Babywearing makes me feel like I belong and that is a beautiful thing."
Thank you so very much Christy, for your openness and honesty, and for sharing a bit of your story with Poe. To read more from Christy, please check out her thorough and thoughtful reviews on Yelp, and if you're in the Tuscon area, check out BWI of Tuscon, be sure to check out they're "Share the Adventure" celebration, Saturday October 11th!