In the wee hours of the morning I lie in bed, hiding under the newish flannel sheets of the season.
Then a door creaks.. The the pitter patter of tiny footsteps.. Then a slumping and a thumping of a cute little bum down the stairs, step by step.. Slide, thump. Slide, thump.. Then running.. And sneaking.. And tip toeing over to Mommy's side of the bed. Then, with Ninja-like skills the toddler climbs up onto the bed.. Two soft little hands tenderly cup my face, "Mommy, you beautiful." And how could I argue with this fireball of cuteness?
As mothers of little ones, we may not always agree with our children's rose-colored vision of us. Instead, we may fall prey to the deadly trap of comparison; to the girl on TV, the girl we used to be, the girl in the magazine, at the supermarket, in the exercise video, or living next door. Worse yet, we may find ourselves acquiescing to the negative voice we ourselves silently speak. How could a two year old know better after all? Oh, but they do...
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.
Today's story comes to us from the UK! I am honored to share Amy's story with you. Amy not only wears her baby, but she teaches, assists and enables others in her local community to do so through her lending library and sling consultancy. Women helping women, with the dynamic, enriching and indispensable (in my estimation!), parenting tool called babywearing. ~Nancy
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)
"I’m Amy, wife to Rob & Mummy to George who is 19 months. As well as working for the NHS, I also run The Carrying Works which is a sling library & carrying consultancy in the UK."
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.
"Pregnancy was pretty good, other than morning (more like all day!) sickness lasting until 17 weeks, but once that was over with the worst I suffered with was indigestion, Rob said we should've had shares in milk the amount I was drinking! Despite everyone telling me that I wouldn't make 40 weeks, I made it to 42 weeks & finally went into labour the night before I was due to be induced. It was short & sweet, arriving at hospital at 1am & baby arriving at 4:43am born in the bath!
I was lucky enough to be able to take the first year of George’s life as maternity leave & I found that I learnt a lot about myself & this little bundle who has come into our lives! Some of our biggest challenge in the early days came with breastfeeding, including George having a lot of mucous in his stomach following the birth which meant I had to hand express to stimulate supply if he wouldn't feed & having a tongue-tie also made feeding difficult but we battled through & are still feeding now!
The toddler months are certainly proving interesting, George has developed a rather independent streak, is a bit like a mountain goat, climbing everything & has recently discovered his own voice! We are enjoying every minute of it & cherishing this time as it goes so quickly. I know people tells you it goes quickly but we didn't realize quite how quickly until we became parents!"
3. Since giving birth, have you struggled with maintaining a positive body and self-image or self-esteem? What has helped? What has hurt?
"Before conceiving George I lost quite a bit of weight, around 3 ½ stone. I think that definitely helped me feel much better about myself both during pregnancy & following the birth. I even did a bump shoot to remember my pregnancy figure that I was so proud of!
I don't think I was under any illusions that I would snap back to my pre-pregnancy shape but I was surprised how comfortable I was in my own skin following pregnancy, especially after the bump felt like it double in size during my final 2 weeks! I think Rob’s attitude has been vital in maintaining a positive body image, self-esteem & self-confidence. He has always told me I’m beautiful & I think I've finally started to believe it myself! Even when I moaned about my jelly belly in those early days after giving birth, his response was always the same, he reminded me how beautiful I am & exactly what that jelly belly had done, it had carried our little boy safely into the world!"
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?
"Our very first experience of babywearing was a Lifft Sling, a type of pouch sling, that we were given by a friend. It was ok but it didn't seem that I was able to get George in a position I was 100% happy with. Next was a Mothercare 3-way carrier, a narrow-based carrier that I used a couple of times before it became too uncomfortable to use. Then a Mamas & Papas Flex which was better but still not right. George was only 10 weeks old & I knew there had to be a better option out there!
I found an amazing group on Facebook, Sheffield Slings. They were so welcoming & friendly, arranging a meet close to me & their member brought along so many different slings for me to play with. That meet was the moment I fell in love with woven wraps!"
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?
"I think the babywearing community can be an amazing place but at the same time it can be quite an emotive one at times too. I have met people who I consider to be some of my closest friends through babywearing & I have met some truly inspiring people. Sheffield Slings played a massive part in what made my maternity leave so special & they played a huge part in me setting up The Carrying Works."
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 suppose from the outside looking in we do practice ‘attachment parenting’ but I would honestly say that we haven't done that because we read up on it before George arrived or because it is fashionable, we've simply followed our instincts. Breastfeeding felt the natural thing to do, as well as the health benefits to both me & George, it seemed convenient & cost-effective! We co-slept a lot in the first year, probably 99% of the time, but in recent months George seems to like his own space when he first goes to sleep then to come through & snuggle with us when he wakes up.
We've been very led by George but in the same respect I don’t think that makes us pushovers as parents because we do set boundaries. Friends & family have often commented on what a contented little boy George is, how happy & sociable he is. I think a certain amount of that is down to our relaxed style of parenting, following our instincts & going with the flow!"
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?
"We both babywear on an almost daily basis, even now that George is 19 months old! Whether it be the walk to or from nursery, getting dinner ready or simply just for the snuggles. George wants to be in on the action now, he is so inquisitive & it isn't always practical to carry in arms so the sling has been a vital part of our toddler toolkit so to speak!
Slings have played a vital part in keeping us sane, particularly through the tough times of teething & when he is fighting sleep because there is too much interesting stuff happening that he wants to be involved in or his brain is struggling to switch off after a busy day, we simply wrap up & go for a walk so we can get away from the world & be at one together."
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!)
"This is an incredibly tough question! Probably the toughest so far as there are so many things I find incredibly beautiful about being a mother. Watching George sleep still amazes me, I could watch him for hours & I often have done! That contented sigh when he snuggles in to fall asleep or the little snuffle goes to feed. Watching him explore, play, discover new skills & new things. Hearing him laugh, seeing him smile. Watching him with his Dad brings an overwhelming joy to me. And more recently, he has started to give cuddles & kisses, that never fails to bring a smile to my face, even on the darkest days!"
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?
"I find that I feel so content & connected when I carry George, I think he feels the same. We talk about things, we laugh, we explore, we cuddle when we’re sad. Carrying has also given us a sense of freedom, it’s like nowhere is off limits!"
10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?
"Babywearing means the world to me. The friends we have made. The places we've seen. The moments we've shared. The relationship we both have with our little boy & each other. It has all been affected by carrying in the most wonderful way, everything about it is beautiful!"
Thank you so much Amy, for sharing a bit of your babywearing story with Poe. If you would like to find out more about The Carrying Works sling library and consultancy, please be sure to check out her blog and Facebook Page! Are you in the UK? Give us a shout-out and comment below!