We bare children at many different life stages, but the bond of motherhood connects us all. This series, Babywearing Made Beautiful, seeks to address some of the issues, commonalities of the motherhood (and/or fatherhood) journey, 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 Kim, a lovely mom who is new Brand Ambassador for Poe this Spring. Kim is our first International Ambassador to participate in our BMB Campaign, and we are thrilled to share her voice. She cares candidly with us about her experiences and feelings regarding body image and weight gain and loss after pregnancy. Also, find out what Kim thinks is absolutely magical...
We are so grateful for Kim's reminder that we should all seek to have a positive body image and not ever body shame another person. Her compassion, and love of family, as well as those infants in her charge, shine through in this interview. Want to here more? Keep reading! (We are a little jealous of your location Kim, can we come visit??)
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 Kim and I’m originally from Belgium but moved to France about 12 years ago, I live on the south-west coast just 1 km from the beach. I moved to France cause life is calmer there then in Belgium and haven’t regretted it a second. I have 1 son 2 years of age and a second baby due in October, I have always known I wanted kids and it’s the best thing I’ve ever accomplished. I always felt there was something missing in my life and how hard I tried to look for it and how much stuff I did I could never find that missing part until my son was born.
I work as a stay at home nanny, which means I nanny kids from my own home (called nounou in france), this makes I can stay home with my own kids as well which I see as a huge plus.
For hobby’s, well I love snowboarding, skiing, surfing and all other board sports. I also love just going for walks on the beach with my son and husband. And I love love love cooking, baking, and discovering different kinds of cuisines.
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.
I became a mother when I was 31 years old, I remember when we (my husband and me) came home from the hospital after giving birth, standing in the living room with our newborn and looking at each other, we had no idea what to do next, everything was so new, we thought we had completely prepared the house for the arrival of our baby but nothing was less true. Becoming a mother has changed me a lot, I love being a mother and it’s the best thing I have ever done in my life, it has given me a purpose in life I never had before my son.
We had our little bumps in the road in the beginning mostly with breastfeeding being a bit difficult and very painful but after a month everything worked itself out, I’m very laid back whereas my husband is more the worrying type.
The biggest challenge I had to overcome was the extreme weight loss I had after my son was born, everyone always says ‘oh it’s easy to gain weight, much harder to lose it’ well, this is hardly true, I had to work really hard to stop losing weight and had to change my eating habits drastically to make sure I stayed healthy, I had to take time to eat, something I had forgotten the first few months after my son was born, he came first and I came last and that started weighing on my own health, but after a while I found a balance and I stopped losing weight again.
3. Since giving birth, have you struggled with maintaining a positive body and self-image or self-esteem? What has helped? What has hurt?
Babywearing has helped me a lot in maintaining a positive body image, when I wear my son in a beautiful wrap I feel beautiful as well, the day may have been really hard but then I pick a nice wrap and wrap my son up and feel him and myself relax, I feel the troubles of the day float away and feel good about myself and my body again. And a few selfies where I see myself and my son smile never hurt my self-esteem either ;)
What has hurt me since birth is everyone telling my how much weight I’ve lost and that I should eat a bit more to gain a little, I don’t understand how people think it’s ok to tell someone who’s is to skinny to gain weight, you don’t go up to someone you think is too big and tell them to lose weight either, well, being too skinny is just the same, I have felt really bad about that often and wrapping has helped me a lot, I often wear bright and colorful wraps to take people’s eyes of off me and make them look at my wraps and with that at my son.
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?
When I was about 5 months pregnant I went on holiday to Belgium and went to visit a friend of mine that had a daughter and loved babywearing, she showed me some wraps and ringslings, I didn’t really know what to do with those but just listened to her and nodded along thinking ‘what am I supposed to do with that piece of fabric?’
When I got back home I started looking in to that babywearing and thought it would be so much more comfortable and handy than a pram, as we life at the beach. So a month before I gave birth I bought my first woven wrap (the cheapest I could find). Once my son was born my friend, who by then was a certified babywearing consultant, gave me a crash course through skype and I’ve been wrapping my boy ever since.
Since first hearing my friend talk about babywearing I have come a very long way, have tried so many different wraps and carriers and got my babywearing consultants certificate.
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?
We aren’t with many local babywearing moms although I have converted more than one of my friends into babywearing already ;) We don’t really have a local babywearing group but get together in a mommy café once every month with some moms in the area some of them babywear but not all.
"I think for the online babywearing community it depends on which one you’re in, and also very brand-related. There are a few brands I’m not buying anymore because I just don’t like the atmosphere around the brand. Babywearing is about wearing your baby close and also to feel good about being a mom but sometimes that is a bit forgotten on the internet, it’s so easy to type something and send it in to the world but it’s so hard to take something back that has been send in to the world. The internet never forgets and can really hurt people when misused; sadly enough not everyone realizes this."
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 don’t consider myself an attachment parent, no. I just take a little bit of everything from all sorts of parenting and choose for myself what fits my family and what doesn’t.
I don’t really know the ‘rules’ about attachment parenting so I can’t really say which aspects I do or do not use. I just try and follow my instincts as much as possible and try not to listen to much to what everyone tells me to do or not to do cause If I would listen to everyone’s advice, I think I would have gone mad already.
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 babywear almost every day with my 2 year old, I had kept me from going crazy.
My son never wanted to sleep in his bed the first 1.5 year of his life so he took all his naps in the wrap, the first 4 months he practically lived wrapped up on my belly, he really needed to be close and I really wanted to give him what he needed.
When he got older I wrapped him a little less but we still have a few ups every day, he asks to be wrapped when he gets cranky and I always wrap him when we go to the farmers market or to the store or stuff like that, it’s just so much easier to have him happy on my back then to run behind him and end up picking him up and carrying him anyway. He is so use to being wrapped that he gladly lets me carry him and it’s fun for him as he can see everything from a much beter angle than when I would put him in a pram.
I hear so often from people ‘why do you still carry him, he’s too old to be carried still’ but nobody ever says anything about a 4 year old still being pushed in a pram. So I mostly ignore those comments and just carry on with my day, I know my son is very independed and he was already walking at 11 months so I know me wrapping him so often is not hurting his development at all.
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 love that my kisses are ‘magic’ when my son falls he comes to me and asks for a kiss and all is instantly better. I also loved when my son was younger and didn’t sleep through the night yet, he would wake up during the night to bf and we just sit in the half dark of his room, just the 2 of us so peaceful, I loved those moments, I felled so close to him those nights.
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?
When I wear my baby I feel a little bit like super mom, I learned to back-wrap him with sweat and tears and I never gave up cause I really wanted to keep him close as long as possible and I also needed to learn to get him to sleep somewhere as he wasn’t sleeping in his bed, so whenever I wrap him up now I feel a little bit like supermom, I persisted through the sweating and through my tears when again I couldn’t get a nice seat or couldn’t get that second back-pass nice and tight. But in the end it was all worth it when I see him relax on my back and fall asleep.
I know my child loved to be carried, he has a lot of energy and doesn’t always know where to go with his extra energy, I feel that when he is wrapped he relaxes and just calms down. He smiles and laughs and he loves when I take pictures of the both of us.
My husband has wrapped our baby when he was really little in fwcc but when he got older he passed on wrapping and we got a ssc for him, he still loves wearing our boy in a ssc. And even my mother-in-law has carried my son in a ringsling and ssc.
10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?
Babywearing has made me feel good about myself, it gives me courage. When I was young I was very outgoing and open to other people, I changed a lot while growing up and life changed the way I was as a kid and teen aswell. Babywearing has helped me get my self-esteem back, I feel more confident about myself and am not afraid to go places on my own or talk to strangers. I met so many great people during the last few years online and in real life and this all thanks to babywearing. I’m not afraid to show myself anymore.