We bear 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 Rebekah, a beautiful mom, as well as a daily and multi-generational babywearer! She cares candidly with us about her birth experiences, including pre-term delivery and misdiagnosed complications, as well as PPD & anxiety. Although we would hope that every mother's birth and postpartum experience is wonderful and safe, that is not always the case. Problems still need to be addressed in our culture and beyond, but the changes we seek only happens when brave women like Rebekah share their truths with us.
We are so grateful for Rebekah sharing how her mother was inspired to her to carry her babies close in the art of babywearing. Isn't that in fact one of our very goal as mothers? To one day have our children look back and declare to the world that WE were THEIR inspiration? Read on to hear her story, and to find out what Rebekah thinks is, "...the most beautiful thing!" How has your mother (or prominent parental roll model) inspired you in your parenting journey?
1. Tell us a little about yourself:
"My name is Rebekah Klimuck-Clark. I'm a stay at home mom to a little boy, Odin Leonard, who will be two on Halloween, and a little girl, Clementine Elizabeth, who is almost 4 months old, and have a small business called Of Pine and Poppy on etsy. I'm originally from a small beach town in Southern California; but moved to the Los Angeles area when I was 15, which is where I later met my husband in a high school choir class. I was a music major with an emphasis on piano and operatic singing, and attended a college in SoCal, while my husband was a forestry major and attended Humboldt University in Northern California. We were married shortly after we both graduated high school when he was 19 and I was 20, and became pregnant with our son a few months later. After moving back to Southern California, a switch in majors, and becoming pregnant with our little girl, we relocated to Dallas, Texas where we could provide for our children better."
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.
"It's really all been a whirlwind. I've always wanted a lot of children, but never expected to have two back to back. My son was only 10 months old when we became pregnant with our daughter and it has brought on a lot of mixed emotions. I felt like I was taking away my attention from my son and it made me feel guilty. There was a little adjusting to be done when Clementine was born, but it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be for them to adjust to each other. They are best friends and love each other so much. I love watching them play and giggle together! The hardest part has been tandem breastfeeding, and teaching my son that he doesn't need to be jealous and can share Momma's milk with the baby, and trying to get them both down for naps at the same time!"
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 really do struggle with maintaining a positive body image! Two pregnancies in less than two years has really taken a toll on my body. With my son, I experienced a traumatic pre-mature birth, that included poor treatment from hospital staff (such as at one point being forcibly held down through my back labor contractions) and I struggled with feeling as if my body had failed me (only to later find out my OBGYN had induced me without my consent), but also had to struggle with postpartum depression and postpartum PTSD. Shortly after my son was born I started having extreme pelvic pain, but was told nothing was wrong with me by my OBGYN. It wasn't until a year later when I was pregnant with my daughter that I found out I had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, which is when there is too much flexibility in your pubic bone, and the bone sort of twists and sits off kilter. The pain made it impossible to work out, and it can't be fixed while pregnant as it requires a lot of time to naturally heal, or you have to be seen by a chiropractor and it puts too much pressure on the pelvic area to be adjusted there during pregnancy. I've since been seen regularly by a chiropractor and have been able to work out more regularly. Seeing the chiropractor on top of having the most healing birth experience with my daughter (natural with no interventions) I'm now ten lbs. less than I was before I had my son, but my body is still so dramatically different than my pre-baby body.
My mantra to myself is: Your body is amazing. Your body is beautiful. Your body has created miracles. Look at what we've made."
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 17, my stepmom gave birth to my half sister and my stepmother was an avid baby wearer and extended breast feeder. She has been my inspiration! When I had my son she went out of her way to teach me all about the different types of baby wearing and the different breastfeeding positions in each style of baby wearing. I remember thinking it was the smartest thing I had ever seen when I was 17, and still feel the same way at 23! Baby wearing and breastfeeding go hand and hand!"
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 it can be 50/50. Most of the time you find people who really care and just want to spread the amazing-ness that is baby wearing, but every once in awhile you will stumble on a group that chooses to shame you for doing something wrong, instead of gently showing you a better, safer, or different way of doing things, and just like breastfeeding, you really need support when you are a new inexperienced mom. Shaming can completely turn you off from really great things.
That being said, to all the moms and dads out there, don't get discouraged! Baby wearing can be a learning curve, and sometimes it takes a few tries to find the perfect baby wearing style for you and your baby!"
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?
"Definitely! I tandem/extended breastfeed, baby wear both kids, co-sleep (yup! Both kids are in our bed and we love the cuddles!), we don't believe in spanking, when our toddler does something wrong, we redirect and use encouraging words rather than derogatory, and later down the line I would love to home-school if I can!"
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?
"Every. Single. Day. When we go to Target, when I'm crafting, when I'm doing laundry, when I'm cooking, when I'm swiffering the floors, when we are playing video games, when I'm working out, etc. any activity you can think of, I'm baby wearing while doing it. Baby wearing has given me the ability to get things done with two under two, but also allows me to give my toddler the attention he needs and deserves, while still comforting my baby."
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!)
"Oh gosh! I love rocking my babies to sleep. I love dancing with my toddler (he's got some moves, let me tell you). I love the way my daughter's face lights up when she smiles back at you. I love how my son comes up to me with a hairbrush saying, "Pretty!" When he wants you to do his hair. I love the cuddling. I love the hugs and kisses. It makes it all worth it."
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?
"Babywearing gives both me and my children a sense of security. I suffer with anxiety and having my kids literally on my body is the safest place they could be. My son is pretty shy, and likes to observe situations rather than really be in them, and it helps him feel safe and secure and keeps him from becoming overwhelmed, and my daughter loves having access to breastfeeding on her demand. She far only my husband and I have worn out kids, but because of us we were able to turn my sister onto baby wearing and my sister-in-law!"
10. And finally, what has babywearing meant to you? Does babywearing make you feel beautiful?
"It has helped me so much with PPD. In fact, with my daughter I started baby wearing immediately, and because of that never really got PPD with her. I always feel kind of sad after delivery like something is now missing from my body, but breastfeeding keeps them close and is almost like an extension of yourself, an outside womb, if you will. It really truly is the most beautiful thing."