Some parents and caregivers love babywearing. Some do not. Some babies love to be worn in a wrap or a baby carrier, some strongly dislike it. But for me with my rainbows, babywearing has been incredibly meaningful and in some ways even healing.
Four years ago, my mom and my mother-in-law were planning a baby shower to celebrate the impending arrival of our first baby. To prepare, I had started a baby registry and had added a baby carrier to it. I had no experience with babywearing but I loved the idea of it.
That particular baby shower didn’t happen though. My son was stillborn at 24 weeks gestation.
In the strange and scary space and time between finding out he was gone and delivering him about 12 hours later, I felt overwhelmingly helpless. I felt an intense, near-desperation pull to save and protect him. But I couldn’t; he was already gone. What should have been his safe place to grow had turned out to be the most dangerous, the result of undetected severe pre-eclampsia and a concealed placental abruption.
As days and weeks stretched by after saying good-bye to that tiny, beautiful boy, I asked my sister to take down my baby registry so I would stop receiving e-mails reminding me of all of that false hope.
Thirteen months later, my rainbow daughter was placed in my arms.
I felt a solidified identity as a mom and a fierce surge of responsibility to protect her – something I didn’t have the chance to do with my son.
I started wearing her in the same baby carrier I had registered for before. As time went by I would wear her or put her in her stroller, depending on which worked best for the occasion.
But if at all possible, I chose babywearing. We both loved it. She could relax, I could get things done around our home. If she was feeling clingy or fussy, it was my go-to. We’d go on long walks with her sleeping and snuggling. She was right there. A bonus was that I felt a little more control when well-meaning strangers got a bit too close. I felt that she was safe while I was wearing her.
As she got older and started to talk, we sang to each other and laughed together. I would wear her on a walk to a park, take her out and let her run around, and then up she’d go again. We had a blast.
She outgrew babywearing just after I found out I was pregnant again when she was two years old.
I had been sneaking her into a carrier while she napped but when she woke up, she wanted to walk. Sooner than later, she would wake up as soon as I put her in the carrier and then ask to come out.
I mourned our babywearing days because I wasn’t ready to stop. We had made such sweet memories. But I knew it was an opportunity to practice letting her go as she grows. I also took it as a sign to focus on my body and my next baby.
I carefully set aside my carriers and wraps in hopes of using them again. Though I was pregnant, I had learned that planning for a baby’s safe arrival was just that – a plan, not a given.
When my son did arrive safely, I was thrilled to put my carriers back into use, wearing him at the hospital as soon as I could. When I’m wearing him, I love listening to his little sighs as he sleeps. Feeling his sweet, tiny breaths. Kissing his head and taking in that sweet baby smell. Making eye contact and seeing his bright smile so close. Not to mention, with my now three-year-old very active daughter, sometimes the ability to babywear my son really saves the day logistically.
He is six months old now and I don’t know how long his babywearing phase will last. He may see his big sister running around and say, “Mama, I WALK,” even earlier than she did.
It will be harder for me to let go because he may be our last baby, though I long for one more.
With that big unknown floating around in my head, I am just enjoying these moments of keeping him close. It’s a privilege that I don’t take for granted, and one that I know I’ll miss.