Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beyond the Bjorn

Spending a day or two at Walt Disney World gives you lots of opportunities to observe humanity.

On our most recent trip, I was thrilled to see more of humanity has begun babywearing. I’m a huge fan of babywearing. I’m also a huge fan of anything that reduces the number of strollers plowing through people at WDW.

For some strange reason, though, I saw a good chunk of the babywearing folks pushing strollers as well.

I’m not sure I see the logic behind that. I did a LOT of babywearing at Disney to avoid the remote possibility of having to look for curb cuts to push my stroller through, or having to detour to Stroller Parking before getting on a ride, or having to unpack my child and belongings to fold up a stroller before getting on transportation.
Watching fireworks at WDW and using our homemade ring sling.

Babywearing at Disney made me so happy—I could walk anywhere just like a normal person, get on and off rides or monorails just like a normal person, and be free for the most part.

Babywearing in general made me happy. Who wouldn’t want a contented child, two hands, and less equipment to lug? But it was a long journey of learning.

I inherited a Baby Bjorn with S. She liked it okay as a newborn, when she faced my chest. When we moved to the outward-facing carry, she hated it. I did, too, because, with her long arms, she could reach anything I could reach—with either hand. What’s the point in that?

I’ve since learned that S. had good taste, even then. There are some pretty solid reasons not to use that style of carrier. But the point was that I gave up on any babywearing but a structured carrier after that. We had some excellent times in our backpack, but it wasn’t as versatile as a soft carrier…which I learned at Disney.
Hiking in the structured carrier!

But S. had turned two by then and gotten kind of hooked on her personal autonomy. That is, she loved to walk. So the ring sling was mostly for when she was tired. But still, how great is that? She could pop in and out as needed, and my back held up better with her weight evenly distributed.

I didn’t truly learn the joys of babywearing until Little A. came along. With an active three-year-old, I had to have a way to do, for example, trips to the park with a newborn. Enter the wrap. HEAVEN on earth!!!
Got the hang of wrapping with Little A.

I had to take Little A. out of the thing to get him to wake up enough to eat—otherwise he would have slept for days, I’m convinced of it. Soft, comfy, great on the back—I loved that thing! There was one awkward moment when a lady in a store mistook his head for one of my breasts, only grossly misshapen. But who cares? I was actually shopping for—and trying on—pants! With my five-week-old sleeping on my chest!

Once he started sitting up, though, I found the carrier that just suited me, the one I wanted to marry. They don’t actually make my brand anymore, but I got a pouch sling. By then, S. had started preschool and her classroom was a portable, up three steps. Instead of either pushing a stroller up there or dragging my incredibly heavy son in his lead-lined baby bucket up there, I just popped him in his sling and dashed on up to sign S. in for school. No fuss.
My favorite--the pouch sling!

Eventually, Little A. outgrew the pouch, the backpack, and even the ring sling—again a blessing for the mobile child. Now, I miss my babywearing days. I miss the comfort of running my hand down my child’s back and the joy of turning our heads together to look at some new marvel. I miss the privilege of my child laying a sleepy head on my shoulder. I miss being heart-to-heart with my children for some amazing moments.

It took a lot of trying things out to get there, though. If you’ve never tried babywearing or tried a Bjorn and given up, try again. Look for a babywearing group or ask other moms. You will be amazed—when you find the right fit, life opens up in a whole new way.

Besides, it has some really cute side effects...

Many, many thanks to Tanya, the Sarasota Babywearing Group and Birthways Birth Center for educating me! Hats off to my mom, who coached field hockey with babies on her back and thanks to my sister-in-law, my dear friend Nancy, and Tanya (again!) for giving me some of my carriers.

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