Babywearing Through Motherhood.

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This is the very first picture I have of using a baby carrier with my Ella (my first born). I know she was worn well before this. In fact, I have a distinct memory of my birth doula coming by a week after her birth and helping me figure out my moby wrap. But this picture, taken when she was seven months old, is the first documentation I have of me wearing her.

What I do have is a lot of pictures like this:

Daddy giving mommy a break

Snoozin' on Daddy

Baby wearing gave Aaron the tools he needed to learn how to be a dad. It helped soothe his colicky, cranky first baby while I struggled with severe postpartum depression. It allowed him to give me the space I needed to pull out of the fog of PPD while still building a bond with our baby.

Then came Miles. My rolly polly, bald baby boy who had a sister who wasn’t quite yet two. Saying I needed both hands is an understatement.

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Eight days after Miles was born. He was lower than recommended because I had just finished nursing him in the wrap.

Being able to pop that squishy baby in my wrap and literally chase after Ella was a life saver. That toddler girl never stopped moving and wearing the baby allowed me to meet both children’s needs. Making sure both their needs were met was a HUGE concern of mine during Miles’ pregnancy. I cried about it during labor. My baby carriers made that worry less of a concern.

omg our day already

Don’t get me wrong, we still had dreadful days (as documented above). Knowing that Ella was melting down because she didn’t have enough snuggle time and the baby crying just because he wanted to snuggle and sleep was a relatively simple fix. Once I managed to get both kids on, I would head to a dark room, turn on the white noise machine and sway back and forth until they both calmed down.

Without Aaron or I really realizing it, wearing our kids (babies and toddlers) became a way of life.

Babywearing, tidying Daddy

Aaron discovered Miles loved the sound of the vacuum and our floors were never cleaner than those few months it worked to calm the baby down.

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And really? Who doesn’t want their bald baby to be happy?

When Miles was about 8 months and Ella was 2.5 years, we began to have regular doctor appointment in Chicago. I briefly toyed with the idea of bringing a stroller. Ella was so tall and Miles was so heavy! Then the vision of us dragging a stroller up flights of stairs to an L platform nearly caused me an coronary and we decided to sling it.

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My 23 pound baby was easily worn the entire day, up and down Chicago, in my favorite mei tai carrier.

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Ella was able to be soothed from the stress of sleep studies by picking her favorite carriers to use on our trips.

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And when my sprained my ankle, Aaron was ready for the task.

Close enough to kiss.

A few years later, another sweet baby joined our family. Keeping Hazel close enough to kiss meant I could still have both hands for my older two

Untitled I foresee many evening practices like this.

I was able to decompress with my piano after stressful days thanks to my wrap.

Hanging laundry. As much as I hate laundering clothes, I love my main level laundry room.

Laundry tackled.

Bus Adventuring

Wearing my almost 3 yr old at the waterfront today.

When Miles began to feel displaced, I was able to wear him in the same wrap I used when he was a baby and tell him stories about his babyhood. It helped him ease into the position of middle child with more grace than I was anticipating.

Mama is feeling a bit bananas. Untitled

Tossing Hazel on my back meant that the kids and I could hike while I let out my internal anger and frustration. Without my carrier, I would have been relegated to the neighborhood with a stroller. While that would have been a bad option, the woods was the best.

I know I would have been a good mom without the tools of baby wearing but with the ability to wear my kids, it has given me the opportunity to be an even better mom. Not only that, but it has given Aaron the ability to bond with all of our kids and settle into the role of Daddy .

I really don’t know how we could have survived 3 kids in 4 years with as much grace as we have without wearing our babies.

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Conversations: At Target

Yes, I know my hands are full. Why do you think we all have Starbucks?

Yes, I do know my hands are full. That is why we all have Starbucks. 

The other day, I was on a mission at Target. I had the big kids in the triple cart (whoever created that is a genius and I am so thankful!) and Hazel strapped on my back. I was fueled by caffeine and the kids were quiet thanks to dairy and caffeine free “happy-chinos” (as Miles calls them). Armed with my list, I had 30 minutes to get everything I needed and back in the car.

I was almost done with my list and preparing to make the mad dash for the check out lines when a grandma aged woman stopped me. Cringing inwardly, I politely smiled and sent up a quick prayer that she wouldn’t be rude. Ever since Hazel was born, I’ve had complete strangers actually track me down in stores to glibly inform me that my hands were full. I braced myself to put on a smile and respond with, “Hands full is a good life” or something like that.

Instead, she smiled at me and said I was doing good. She raised three children and shopping with them had been her most dreaded chore. Other moments were good, but shopping was never one of them. She even confessed to refusing to shop with her own grandkids! Then, she waved at the kids, encouraged them to be kind, and went on her way.

Thank you, kind grandma, for your encouragement. Hearing that was exactly what I needed.

 

 

Linking up with The Parent ‘Hood this morning.

Conversations (with myself): Being Real

I think we do each other a significant disservice when we present caricatures of ourselves online. I understand the idea of having niche audiences and wanting to be an encouragement to others. Being an encouragement doesn’t mean simply talking about the positive. Only showing the glowing, rosy moments. What about the moments when your feet stick a bit to the floor as you walk or it’s 8am and you still haven’t done dishes from yesterday’s lunch (or is that just me?)?

Pictures of sacred moments in childhood or great accomplishments do inspire me, but what about that personal bit? What about that bit to connect with real life and the real people around you? The wonderful moment of tender love between your children accompanied with a story about the non stop bickering that had been taking place all day. The reminder that they DO love each other, despite what has been going on all day. Or what about sharing pictures of your 7 failures leading up to your amazing culinary accomplishment. And how about a snapshot of the wall behind the couch your toddler colored on while you were frosting that cupcake?

Lately, I’ve been struggling with a feeling of inadequacy. Everywhere you look, beautiful images and stories can be found about the joys and perfections found in motherhood. Why isn’t that my reality of motherhood? What do these women have that I don’t? Why can’t I attain their level of beauty and perfection, no matter how hard I try?

Most of my daily life is as if I’m in a wilderness of sleep deprivation and constant boundary holding. An amazing wilderness that has joy and rewards, but a wilderness none the less. There are moments like a refreshing breeze. Sometimes, I come across them daily. But those moments never last and they always seem to be just enough (thank goodness!) to get me through the next stretch of parched life until I stumble upon a new, brief oasis.

I’ve begun to reach out to the community of mothers surrounding me. I’ve been holding my breath, asking quiet questions. As the answers have been rolling in, I’ve begun to breathe again. It turns out struggling with parenting, keeping your floor mopped, putting laundry away, keeping patience always at hand, and making sure the kids have on matching shoes are all pretty common. Maybe not those specific examples, but everyone has their own parenting and house keeping demons.

But no one shares them. Why is that? Is it because we’re being afraid of being perceived as a negative nellie? Someone who can never say anything nice? Or how about being seen as weak and disorganized? Worse yet, being seen as a bad mom?

This has to change. Not only do we need to balance the good with the bad but the bad with the good. We need to be real with one another. If we expect to survive this awesome, exhausting, amazing, intimidating thing called parenthood, we have to connect and reconnect. Share the happy with the sad. Sunshine with the rain. Strong points and downfalls.

It’s not comfortable, but real life isn’t shouldn’t be comfortable. My hope is to share my life in color. Not monochromatic or in a specific color scheme. The bright and popular colors, along with the underrepresented and disliked colors.

I want to keep this real.

So, as a first step, I give you this picture:

15 minutes of actual cleaning

Caption of a sunshine yellow color chip: “Did this in 15 minutes while wearing a baby on my back! Woot! Anyone can keep on top of their house in 15 minute chunks!”

Caption muted grays: “Too exhausted to keep up with dishes and the baby is so grumpy, I had to do this while wearing her on my back.”

Real caption that is kind of a muddy mess of yellow, gray and a bit of glitter: “Trying to tackle my kitchen in dedicated 15 minute chunks is possible if I can spread it out over an hour. Three kids is no joke! At least I can wear the baby on my back while mediating the big kids and killing spiders in the bathroom.”

Beautiful doesn’t equal perfection. Even the messy, dirty and possible inadequacies about our lives can offer a beautiful oasis to others.

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