Friday, October 12, 2012

Working and Wearing: How Babywearing Makes Parenting Complete

by Kristin Russell-Miller
Volunteer Babywearing Educator

I wasn't quite sure how I was going to manage working full time, mothering, being a partner in my relationship and handling all of life... I figured it would come to me and I'd just work it out.  Luckily, I had some great mama role models in my family. In particular, a cousin who was also a newer mom and we discovered that we had a lot of parenting ideas in common.

I had this beautiful baby, absolutely amazing... I decided I was going to breastfeed her and had planned to stay home from work for three months so that we could establish a good nursing relationship and bond before I had to return.  The first few days in the hospital went really well, we nursed a lot and slept when we could.  And then it came time to go home.  My brand new beautiful baby did amazingly well until we got to the car and then it was all over!  She screamed the entire way home in the car, it was so sad.  When we got home, and she was held again she calmed right down.  Imagine that, just holding her soothed her.  We found that holding her close kept her happy and safe and limited the amount of time she spent crying and upset. 

A couple of days later my first baby carrier came to me in the mail, lent by my wonderful cousin!  A Sleepy Wrap... thank the heavens it came.  I was ready to start moving around, doing some things around the house and even maybe walking our two dogs, the original "babies" in our home.  The wrap was amazing, it made all the difference in the world!  I was able to nearly constantly hold my baby and even nurse her at times.  That was the gateway...

Over the next few months I dove right into the world of babywearing!  I joined and discovered a world of mamas who had answers to my babywearing questions, support for nursing, support for working moms, for pumping and all of the things that I was about to encounter.  Before my daughter turned 6 months, I had tried Mei Tais, Soft Structured Carriers, Wraps, Pouches and Slings.  It was wonderful to be so close to her and to know that even after I needed to return to work, that I was going to be able to spend the time I did have at home with her so close.  And now that I look back I know that helped us stay bonded and close.  It also helped keep my milk supply up, despite being away from her for nearly 10 hours a day.  That time together was wonderful.  I was able to return to many of my duties at home, walking dogs, doing dishes and still be close to my baby.

Not only was I so close to her, but I became closer to my cousin since we had this wonderful thing in common!  I also met a wonderful group of mothers in the CNY area, who eventually became my mama support group and then turned into BWI of CNY!  What a wonderful group of women.  To know that no matter where we come from that we all have this beautiful thing in common.  Parenting and being able to be close to our babies in such a natural way.  If you think of it... babywearing while working was necessary for women to be able to care for babies, while working to gather food for their families.  I was proud to be a part of this centuries-old tradition.

My daughter is now 28 months old (a little over 2) and though she is walking now and getting around well on her own, I still wear her when I can.  It makes grocery shopping easier, apple picking this fall, and when we are out and she's tired and it's time for a nap... guess where you can find her?  At outdoor events and in busy parks this summer, I saw parents struggling to push strollers around through the overwhelming crowds.... my baby is close and safe on my back.

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