I needed to get six or so loads of laundry done today. I woke up somewhat bright eyed and ready to charge the day head on. My toddler greeted me at the side of the bed with the unfortunate news that, "Atticus pooped in house". Atticus, being our three month old rescue puppy. Lovely. It wasn't just a little poop on a hard flooring surface. It was multiple piles. Multiple piles.
Needless to say, my morning did not go as planned. So my to-do list was interrupted, no big deal. What do you do when your entire labor, birthing, mothering plans are thrown for a loop? In Danielle's story you will read how she was able to pivot in the face of unexpected health complications, and how babywearing not only played a role in her adapting to circumstances out of her control, but in helping to strengthen the bond between mother and child.
This series, Babywearing Made Beautiful, 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 Danielle. Danielle inspires me on many levels, she's a talented artist, a great writer and she can wrap a wriggly toddler like nobody's business! We met, you guessed it, in a Facebook group. But the group wasn't geared towards babywearing, believe it or not. It was a birth month group! We both had babies who were due on St. Patrick's day.
About two months after our March ginger babies were born, (yes, we both were blessed with red haired March baby boys!), my Boba Wrap felt saggy and I wanted another baby carrier option. Danielle suggested I try a woven wrap, and well the rest is, as they say, history! A friendship developed and we have collaborated on a couple of graphic designs projects over the years. Did I mention she designs woven wraps?? #GirlsGotTalent
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 Danielle. My wonderful husband (my balance and my rock) will be celebrating our 9th wedding anniversary this coming January. We have 3 wonderful boys here with us (8, 4, and 2), and one in heaven. I work part time in member support and we are homeschoolers heavily leaning towards unschooling. As hobbies I enjoy crocheting woolies, blogging, sewing, babywearing, and watching Gilmore Girls) . I was a SAHM for 2 years prior to returning back to work after my youngest was born, while I truly enjoyed my time with my children I needed to work outside of the home for personal fulfillment (and working part time has given me a wonderful balance)."
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.
"When my first was born I had never put much thought into how I would raise my children so I just did as my parents did and basically what would be considered "mainstream" parenting. There were moments when I felt "this is wrong" it didn't feel right and I would reconsider those choices. When my second was born at 33 weeks via emergency C-section due to HELLP syndrome; weighing 3lb 5oz he spent 6 weeks in the NICU. When he came home I couldn't bring myself to put him down, to sleep without him, and I wanted so much for breastfeeding to work with him (due to going back to work at 3 weeks pp I quit with my first). This is when my parenting changed almost completely; I became more in tune with what my children needed and their feelings. Overall that experience and babywearing through it changed me not only as a person but as a mother."
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 have never really had a "positive" body image, but prior to having children I feel I had good self-esteem. With motherhood has come the oh so lovely fear that everything I am doing is wrong. Motherhood and the constant "advice" and criticism did a real number on my self-confidence more so then my body image. It's been a struggle to just shut all of that out; a choice every day. I am just recently rediscovering myself and coming back to the realization that I was made this person to raise my children and trying to be more true to myself for them."
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?
"I had a narrow-based carrier with my oldest son, but after using it once my back could not handle it (I have a lower back injury). I was introduced to babywearing as I know it now when my middle son was born, it was his NICU night nurse that introduced me to babywearing, she showed me kangaroo care and when he was more stable she would wear him in a receiving blanket while doing her rounds when I was unable to be there. From this experience I went home to wear my not even 5lb son in a scrap fabric rebozo, moving on to a twin sheet, and then to a DIY stretchy wrap. From here I fell in love with woven wraps! I've tried so many carriers over the years but I always came back to wrapping, because of my back it was the only way I was able to carry my children without being in pain from it."
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 believe the online babywearing community has grown so much in the last few years it's hard to talk about it as a whole. There are very awesome welcoming groups and forums (thebabywearer.com and Everyday Babywearing always at the top of my “to recommend to new wearers who aren't local”) and then there's places that have just become consumed with drama and judgment. I believe there are still amazing people out there that just want to help parents keep their babies close and that's what I try to focus on. I'm truly lucky to live in an area (Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas) that has many very active babywearing groups. I've spent the last couple years co-admin'ing North Dallas Wearing Mamas (www.BabywearingDallas.com) but as my babies have gotten older I've stepped back to focus more on our homeschooling, etc. It's a large active group of 1200+ members on Facebook and many meetings/playdates a month for face to face interaction. It's a good place for people new to babywearing or babywearing communities."
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'm not too into labels because I feel applying labels to myself or my actions sets me up to fail at one aspect or another if I don't fit into the box of the label. If I were to give my parenting a label I would call it "instinctual parenting", meaning I do what I feel lead to do. We co-sleep, we did extended breastfeeding, we generally do gentle discipline, we don’t do gender/color coding, etc. These are choices we've made for our family that work for us, whatever "category" that puts us in. It is very important to me that we don't judge others for choices that our different than ours that work for their family or try to force our choices on them. We are all doing the best we can in this journey and could all use a little more encouragement and a little less judging."
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?
"When my youngest 2 were smaller I would babywear (and tandemwear) what felt like ALL. DAY. LONG. They were only 16 months apart and my youngest experienced horrible silent reflux that was only calmed by being carried on my back (it was the only way he slept I would walk him half the night). While I don't wear as often anymore there is rarely a day we go that we don't wear at all. Being a toddler is HARD and he still needs his safe place. Not to mention there's three of them and I am not sure how I would go shopping without babywearing!"
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!)
"While the newborn phase is adorable and lovely, I believe the thing I find most beautiful is watching their little personalities grow. The first time they want to wear a certain shirt or start to fall for a certain lovey or toy. Find out they love dancing or singing, curry or tacos, or decide their very favorite book. Plus there is nothing quite as wonderful as the first time your child looks at you and says "mama, I love you." that’s just a heart melter."
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?
"Wearing my children makes me happy and confident. When they are all snuggled up with me and happy, starting to calm from an epic meltdown, or the so beautiful wrap nap, I feel like I am doing something right. There's something very calming about knowing your babies are where they should be.
My husband LOVES babywearing! He is usually the one that is advertising it to other parents (especially dads), telling them how much easier it makes everything. He loves WCHB's (wrap conversion half buckles)! My mom has also worn my youngest two when she has visited from China."
10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?
"As corny as it will sound, babywearing has completely changed my life. It has changed the mother I am and the mother I strive to be. It has reignited a passion in me that I thought I had lost when I became a mother. It has brought me joy in keeping my own children close and through helping others learn to keep theirs close as well. I feel empowered and confident in a way I don't think I would have found without it. So in that way I find beauty in babywearing and in myself."
Danielle is a very special lady and I feel blessed to call her friend. Her skills in wrapping and graphic design wow my socks of time and time again. She has one of the biggest hearts I know. Danielle plans to put her babywearing skills and experience with HELLP Syndrome, the NICU and all that goes with having a pre-term infant to good use in the future. "It (babywearing) was a complete game changer for us. I had this baby that was six weeks old that I felt like I didn't even know. We had to reconnect. It's WHY I'm so passionate about it."
To read more about Danielle's passion for babywearing and helping other moms come to know the awesomeness that is babywearing, follow her on her blog, My Fab Survival, and I promise you, you will be inspired too! -Nancy