Babywearing Made Beautiful: Raeanne's Story

We bare children at many different life stages, but the bond of motherhood connects us all.  My first daughter was born just a few days after my 22nd birthday back in 1999. I was young and 3000 miles from home on a military base. A baby carrier helped me to get from point A to point B with my sanity intact. Little by little my confidence grew and I embraced this new role of "Mommy", but the there were certainly bumps and hiccups along the way, both physically and emotionally.

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 Raeanne, a lovely young mom whom I've had the pleasure to get to know over the last year. Her zest for life and love of her children shine through in both photographs and how she talks about her beloved family. {You may recognize the photograph above from the Poe Wovens home page slide show!} I am inspired by her joyful spirit and can-do attitude, (also her love of cleaning, but I digress). Want to here more? Keep reading!

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) 

"Fair warning: I use too many parentheses.

My name doesn't suit me and never will (Raeanne). I'm 23 (and simultaneously feel like a teenager and a senior citizen somedays). My husband Karl and I have just celebrated 5 years of wedded bliss and he is (admittedly a total cliche) my best friend ever. I've lived in 5 states in the last 5 years, but am currently residing in beautiful Roanoke, VA. We have two kids thus far, and I just dare you to tell me we should stop there! Depending on the day I may: 

1) Flip out on you and ask what right you have to barge into my reproductive future
2) Meekly say that we're open to God's will and hope to have more... Many more
3) Wholeheartedly agree with you that two is more than enough

But I lean towards the first two... ;)

Kaylen is my 3 year old wild girl. She is who those little old ladies at my church were talking about when they said I'd have a daughter just like me. A fifth generation first born daughter. Stubborn, emotional, impulsive, and tough. And she is why I didn't want a daughter. That being said, she is already so much more than I will ever be; a little nurturing mini-mama from the start with the sweetest little voice (that is ALWAYS shouting) and an amazing grasp of the faith I've tried to instill in her.

Benjy (19 months) was the son I hoped and dreamed of and yet he lived without a name for 48 hours because we simply couldn't peg him! He's the smart, silent type (especially since his sister talks enough for the both of them) and is built like a tank. I guessed he was a boy (my boy!!!) from the moment I discovered I was pregnant (on my 21st birthday nonetheless). He's been carried in a wrap or a sling from the beginning and loves it to this day. One of his first words was "wrap".

I'm a stay at home mom. If you knew me you'd know that was MORE than enough."

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.

"Motherhood has treated me as well as anyone. It's abused me in the sense that I had a nearly 9 lb baby for my first child, at home, in a tub of water, and endured the stitches afterwards. I cried the tears of sleeplessness, I leaked the milk of overproduction, I am quoted as saying "I'm going to die awake".
I'm not entirely certain I've overcome there challenges. I'm still in the trenches, I'm still frazzled, but I'm happy and grateful (usually... sometimes...) for the journey!"

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 was a "blubber whale" with my first, but merely achieved "whale" status with my second. My post baby body encouraged and inspired me to a point; "I don't look too bad for a 19 year old who just had a baby" & "I'm not too bad for a 21 year old with 2 kiddos" is a far cry from the sorry, self pitying self-conscious teen who despised her curves.

Zumba helped despite the fact I have two left feet and can't stand people seeing me "move it, move it". Having a (dear, sweet, wonderful) mother-in-law and sister-in-law who have always been teeny tiny doesn't help. 'Nuff said."

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 somehow, somewhere heard something about "slings and Mobys" and registered for a Moby since they seemed popular. From there Pinterest caught my eye with beautiful babywearing pictures, I bought my first wrap (Didymos Robert from a mama who is still a friend), and fell in love. Babywearing 102 propelled me and Wrapping Rachel and Babywearing Faith inspired me.

It's always been about normalcy. I wanted to maintain my normal life. I'm obsessive about keeping a clean, organized home. Doing laundry is a hobby of mine. Running errands had to be done even if two kids while grocery shopping seemed impossible.

The only thing that has changed is now I enjoy the beauty of it in addition to the practicality. The art, the diversion, the stylishness."

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?

"Oh the babywearing community! Intimidating at first, but priceless for me after my son was born and I lived in an isolated county in West Virginia. I met an endless number of helpful, supportive, and beautiful mamas!

During my 3rd "Swap" transaction I met a sweet lady who I now know personally as she is the leader of the Roanoke Babywearers group and kindly made me an admin as well since I've moved and now live 10 minutes from her house!!"

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 was game to be an "attachment parent" long before I knew the term... Long before I wanted kiddos even!

I agree with most of the tenants, but also subscribe to the idea that not everything works for every child. It's served us well and we've lived in halfhearted harmony with kiddos who show varying states of adjustment. 

Breastfeeding, babywearing, baby led weaning, cloth diapering, co sleeping, natural birth (at home even! Twice!) all seemed to come naturally to be honest....

But so did spanking."

7. Do you babywear often? During which activities do you most often babywear? How has babywearing affected you as a mother and caretaker of small children?

"Now that my youngest is 19 months it's less and less frequent, but still valuable and treasured. We wear to hike, do laundry, dishes, walk to the store, shop, pickup the seemingly endless supply of toys, and just for the sweet cuddles and comfort both of us still need!

Babywearing enabled me to care for my home, cook (semi) healthy food, and honestly to develop a sense of style that I lacked the majority of my life. The closeness it provides makes me feel like a competent parent even on our toughest days, all the different carries I do make me feel like my persistent pregnancy brain doesn't hold sway over everything (though I still don't know the names of everything I do...), and the gorgeous patterns, fibers, and colors just thrill me to be honest!"

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!)

"Sleepy, milky, nursing, newborn smiles are my favorite! They're the thing that cemented me to this mothering thing. But now it's watching Kaylen grasp a new idea. Seeing Ben learn a new word. Their excitement at trying a glorious new food, hearing a catchy song, visiting the milk cows or the horses on our milk run. It's pure 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?

"I feel nurturing, elegant, on top of things, and strong. My dear Benjy generally feels like he wants to nurse....

My husband and mother-in-law wear my babies, my babies wearing their "babies"! The circle is nearly complete!"

10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?

"Babywearing means survival, graceful parenting, a clean house, a happy babe, a lovely new passion, a conversation starter, a great tool for daddies to bond with babies, and a constant source of joy and contentment!

Yep, just yep!"  

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Raeanne, looking forward to seeing many more happy babywearing pictures in the future! -Nancy



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