When I became a parent for the first time almost ten years ago, I felt like someone had just handed me this baby and I was somehow supposed to know what to do with it. I was somehow supposed to instinctively know what she needed, when she needed it. And I honestly, really … didn’t.
Babywearing anchored me to the world
My first daughter’s birth was incredibly traumatic and afterwards it left me feeling heavily burdened by the fog of post-natal depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. My instincts as a mother which were supposed to be innate had gone elsewhere and I felt lost and confused – until I picked up my carrier, and learned how to wear my baby in it.
Having my daughter close to my chest, so I could smell her sweet head, began to ground me. Babywearing acted like a kind of anchor which drew me back down to earth and kept me from slipping away. It allowed me to be present, and soon the fog lifted as I healed.
Babywearing made my baby feel secure and safe
I thought I knew how to multi-task pretty well, until I became a mother for the second time. Having two small children crying out their need for me with the same level of desperation totally challenged my coping skills and forced me to look for ways to connect to them both, somehow.
I can confidently say that my second daughter spent the majority of her first few years up on my back in a wrap or carrier. Up there she felt secure and safe, out of her grabby toddler sister’s reach and in return I felt more able to be the kind of mother I wanted to be. The kind of mother who wasn’t completely frazzled and fractured from demands, but instead was able to be present for her children.
Babywearing the third time round
When my third daughter came around, I arrogantly assumed I’d have this whole motherhood thing down pat, no worries. Yeah. I was wrong. Turns out a third child can really shatter apart your coping mechanisms because now the parenting unit is officially outnumbered. It would be wrong to assume that parenting is a total no-brainer the third time around, let me tell you.
So while my daughter and I learned how to breastfeed amongst a few challenges, babywearing was a skill I could use again on the nights when the boob just wouldn’t cut it. Right as I was about to throw in the proverbial towel, I’d pop her into my carrier and together we’d head off for a moonlit walk around the streets. Suddenly our world made sense again, and we were connected. I may have felt a little dazed, but she was content and asleep – and that was all that mattered. In fact, that was a real blessing.
Babywearing as a beautiful, instinctive act
By the time my fourth daughter came around, baby wearing was simply an act of beautiful, instinctive survival. As I ferried her sisters to and from kindergarten and school, wearing my youngest daughter was the only practical way I knew to get this whole mothering thing done. There was no time or space for prams or strollers, and my youngest quickly learned how to access the milk bar in a carrier while on the go – and it’s where she slept most of the time too. My skills were refined by this point, and my carriers and slings were always in arm’s reach and well-worn with love and memories.
So many things in my journey as a parent have changed over the years. From the way I gave birth, to the way my pregnancies felt, from the houses we have lived in, to the diverse needs of our four unique daughters.
But the one consistent thing that I look back on with the utmost of respect was babywearing.
Because of babywearing, I was empowered to meet the needs of my daughters. Because of babywearing, I was able to feel anchored and grounded instead of adrift. Because of babywearing, I was introduced to a community of likeminded parents who still feature in our lives, to this day.
And ultimately, because of babywearing, I felt like an awesome mother who could handle anything. And it was the best thing I ever did.
(This post is sponsored by Ergobaby to celebrate International Babywearing Week)