Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Wearing o' (or in) the Green

It's St. Patrick's Day!  We asked our members to share their photos of using green carriers, and you all obliged with a wide variety of greens.  Maybe even 40 shades of green?

The backs of a man and woman wearing a baby and toddler in a St. Patrick's Day parade

A dark skinned mom wears a toddler in a green Ergo
Only the baby is visible in this green and yellow sling

Baby worn on back in a green wrap with brown birds
A light brown skinned mom takes selfie over her
shoulder of baby on back in light green wrap

Mom wears in a green wrap off camera.  Baby and llama and
another woman are visible

Mom wears newborn in dark olive sling
Dark skinned mom wears dark skinned toddler in green dot KP
Dad in kitchen wears toddler in front in a
green starry night wrap conversion carrier

Smiling light brown skinned mom wears
smiling young toddler in white and green Tekhni

A white toddler is worn by white mother in green MT posing with
2 dark skinned police officers, and another dark skinned woman wearing a T-shirt.  Target seems to be the background

A light brown skinned mama wears a baby on her back
in a green wrap in front of the Cherry Blossoms

A light skinned black woman wears a newborn in a green silk sling
in the stands of a ball game

A dark haired mama wears a white older toddler in a green
wrap with Celtic designs
A young white toddler is seen on the back of a woman out
of frame.  Toddler is in a dark and light green Ellevil wrap conversion carrier

A newborn is seen in an olive green sling.

A brown haired mom wears a blond baby in front in a light blue/green wrap

A white mom wears a white baby in a multi-green
striped sling in front of the white house
A white dad with tattoo around his arm
wears a sleeping baby in a multi-green and
brown striped wrap

A light brown mama wears her young toddler in a light
green and white wrap.  They are in the grocery store
Light skinned mom in green shirt wears a medium
skinned baby on front and medium skinned
toddler on back in green tone KPs.

Photo over shouder at grocery.  White
toddler asleep in light green wrap with white stars
Light brown skinned mom poses with Cat
in the Hat while wearing baby on back in
shamrock wrap

Family photo of white family all in green posed
at the St. Patrick's Day Parade
White mom with red hair poses in green wrap with
small baby in front of lake.

White Dad in ball cap wears baby in front in light
olive green Ergo.

We hope you have a fantastic St. Patrick's Day!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Annual Report 2015

Admittedly, we're closing in on the end of the first quarter of 2016, so this annual report is a little later than we'd hoped, but we are excited to be able to share a picture of where we were in 2015. There are areas in which we hope to grow.  We hope to continue to make strides toward increasing the diversity of our reach as well as improving our accessibility.  Our goals for the coming year will reflect our desire to reach as many caregivers as possible with the wonderful opportunities provided by babywearing.  We look forward to spending the rest of 2016 getting to know your family and working together to spread the babywearing love!
Infographic of Annual Report - see below for text.

We are aware that placing the information in an infographic, while a visually pretty way of presenting a bunch of boring numbers, makes it impossible for our friends using screen readers or braille displays to read the information.  So, this link should get you to the document version, and if it worked as we hoped, we've turned on screen reading and braille functionality (let us know if it doesn't, we're still learning).  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Learning to Wear as a Blind Mama

K wears her son in a blue ring sling in the kitchen
As someone who is blind, I knew that I would need to babywear before ever becoming a parent. Setting aside all the great benefits and philosophical reasons, all of which I love, it really came down to practicality. Guide dogs and strollers really don’t mix! So, babywearing was the only way I was going to get around with my son independently.
But the babywearing world is a very visual world!
I quickly became overwhelmed trying to research that one carrier that would last me from baby to toddler. Having very few friends who were parents, let alone wore their babies much, I was on my own. I’m sure many expecting parents feel the same way, struggling to sort through all the information comparing carriers. Adding in the pictures, instructions, and YouTube videos that were all very visually oriented made me feel lost.
K wears her son facing out in a
Beco Gemini on the sidewalk
Eventually I picked a carrier and figured out how to use it, but the process was frustrating. Had I not known that babywearing was an essential skill for me to learn I might have given up. Having someone who knows nothing about babywearing trying to explain very visual instructions to someone else who knows  nothing about babywearing is…well…challenging.
I didn’t hear about BWI until my son was a few months old. At that point we’d figured things out enough, and I didn’t see the need to drag myself to a meeting. Living in Capitol Hill, none of the meetings are very convenient.
As my son got older our wearing needs changed. In the process of finding a new carrier that would work for us, I got more curious about the other options. I had friends who were wearing their babies now, and I envied the ease at which they perused new carriers and babywearing skills. I had several friends talking about wanting to try woven wraps, and I was curious.
K wears her son in a back carry in a multicolor
 soft structure carrier on a brick sidewalk
So, when my son was 18 months old I was motivated to go to a BWI meeting to learn the basics of using a woven wrap. I’ll admit that I was reluctant. I was nervous about getting help in a group setting, generally not the best for teaching visual skills to someone who is blind. But I got individual attention, and I was hooked on in person help!
K wears her son on her back in a navy with
multicolor elephant print soft structure
carrier inside a living room

I wish that I had made myself go to a meeting much sooner. Finally I had actual people who could answer my questions and let me touch step by step. I could feel what different carriers were like, rather than relying on friends or my husband’s descriptions. A whole new world of babywearing opened up when I attended that first meeting. Now, I have resources to help navigate the crazy visual world of babywearing, and I’m so glad of it.

 Posted by Kim
Editor's note: At BWI of DC-MD-VA, we want to help parents and caregivers wear no matter the challenges in their path.  Please let us know if you need accommodations to learn at a meeting.  We have educators who are fluent in ASL, our meeting locations are accessible with elevators or ramps, and we will work with you to make any arrangements needed to help you learn.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Babies and bats: Surviving Academia with a Baby in Tow

Baby’s first bat meeting. With M, then 3.5 months old, in a mei tai ready to hear more talks at a conference in Portland, Oregon. (Note name tag clipped to mei tai.)
When my first child was born in 2009, I was deep in the throes of graduate school. I quickly found babywearing to be an asset for, among so many other things, getting work done while meeting the needs of my baby (not the mention the free snuggles). While my new son napped in a carrier, I had hands free for typing and data analysis.  When he was about seven weeks old, I resumed attending lab meetings, with the baby tucked snuggly into a ring sling. 

While these activities were made easier by babywearing, I felt the benefits of wearing quite acutely when it came to attending academic conferences. Since becoming a parent 6.5 years ago, I have traveled to and given presentations at about half a dozen conferences, and in all but one instance, I had at least one of my children with me at the conference.

When my first baby was 3.5 months old, I flew alone with him across the country carrying no more than two small bags and two carriers, to attend and give a presentation at a meeting on bat biology in Oregon. Babywearing first came in handy during the travel portion of this adventure--  he stayed in the sling in the airport, on the airplane, and while taking public transit to the hotel. Then, because he still napped a lot and wasn’t mobile yet, it was relatively easy to keep him contained in a mei tai while I listened to presentations, viewed posters, and shared meals and conversations with colleagues.
1-year-old M is worn by his grandmother while I attend a conference nearby in Williamsburg, VA.
While I was fortunate enough to have a family member with me to help with childcare for later conferences, babywearing—by both myself and those caring for the baby while I attended sessions—made life much easier. My mother wore my then one-year-old son in a sling while she watched him at an animal behavior meeting, and I strapped him on when it was time for meals or crowded poster sessions.
In between sessions at the animal behavior conference in Princeton, New Jersey with 7-month-old E asleep in the SSC.
My mother wearing 7-month-old E in an SSC while caring for her at a conference in Princeton, New Jersey.
At a conference when my daughter was seven months old, our hotel was situated on the opposite side of a college campus from the meeting proceedings, almost a mile away. Using an SSC, I easily transported my daughter back and forth from the conference site to my mother, who was watching my son and sometimes the baby back at the hotel. Most recently, I attended a conference in Florida with my nearly-two-year-old daughter. Both my brother, who came along to watch her, and I carted her around on our backs through airports, at the conference, and on a couple of post-conference outings.
22-month-old E on her uncle’s back outside the conference center in Jacksonville, Florida.
As with so many other things, baby- (and toddler-) wearing has made the experience of attending meetings and caring for my children immensely more doable.  As many parents have learned, being able to continue to pursue other avenues of one’s life—whether it is a career, volunteer work, education, or caring for other family members— while spending time with and meeting the needs of your child—is a large part of what makes babywearing such a wonderful and valuable resource.

Posted by: Genevieve

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's Wintertime! Bread, Milk, and Babywearing Meetings

This post isn’t a how-to but more of a head’s up.

Our area enjoys all four seasons.  Usually during the winter months when it gets a little chilly and there is some light snow or ice, we lose our damn minds and close schools and public offices while buying milk we won’t drink (forgot about that lactose intolerance) and wait for the neighbors to also go outside to shovel out their car so it feels like an outdoor party.

A crowd of snow people
As such, when there are school delays or closings due to the weather, this will affect our meetings as well.  Some meetings will be cancelled entirely, others may start late or end early to accommodate the leader’s ability to pick up or drop off children at school.  

A list of our upcoming meetings and events can be found here
And we will try to update cancellations as soon as we can on the event page.    

We will also try to post on our chatter board.  In the case of inclement weather, attendees can also post and ask

If in doubt regarding the weather, please use your best judgement.  It is OK to stay home if you don’t feel comfortable out in the weather!

This is also a time of year when sniffles, colds, and coughs abound.  What should we do about illness?

Norman Rockwell painting of a boy at the doctor with his pants loose awaiting a shot
While our meetings are always open to the public, the nature of our meetings means we usually have a number of pregnant women and/or very young infants. As such if  you or members of the household have had fever, vomiting or diarrhea within 24 hours of the meeting, please stay home, rest and recuperate!   

Other symptoms of illness, like a cough or runny nose are a matter of discretion but if the germs can spread easily, it may be best to plan on attending when the worst of the cold symptoms have passed.  If this affects returning a learning library carrier, please feel free to contact us to arrange an out of meeting return.  While we are sorry not to see you, we appreciate everyone’s effort to keep each other well.

Finally,  with the gray days, indoor time and cold weather its not uncommon to feel blah this time of year.  If you want to connect online we’re just a post away in the chatter group—you don’t have to have something for sale to chatter with us!  If in person meet ups are more your thing, in addition to the regular meetings, playdates are welcome. Just post a time and place in the chatter group and you'll likely have a crowd in no time.
A ginger cat and black cat.  The ginger cat has a paw around the
shoulder of the black cat as they gaze out a window

We hope the weather doesn’t interrupt too many meetings and illness doesn’t keep too many of you away.  We look forward to wearing with you!

Photo of a casual picnic following a Tysons meeting last summer

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Things You Can Learn at a Babywearing Meeting!

I knew before my first son arrived that I would want to wear him and keep him close. I researched some options and went with a Sleepy Wrap (now Boba wrap) and an Ergo. Thankfully, the Boba wrap had tutorials and I was able to figure out the pocket wrap cross carry fairly easily. Or so I thought... I could never get it tight enough and with increasing weight, it was always uncomfortable. I transitioned to the Ergo with the infant insert and that was more comfortable. It wasn't until my son was older and over 20 lbs that my back began to hurt with the Ergo. I watched videos and tried everything to perfect the fit but it just was not working. I decided to try a wrap instead so I could really customize the fit.

I got my first wrap, a Didymos Lisca Pastell in my base size and could not wait to start playing with it. After using the Boba wrap, I figured I'd be a pro! After hours of YouTube tutorials, pictures in babywearing facebook support groups and lots of conversations, I just could not get it tight enough to feel solid and safe. So I attended my first BWI meeting.
A panoramic photo of the Centreville meeting

I was definitely overwhelmed when I came in but someone quickly greeted me and offered to help. Having been supremely frustrated with all of my failed attempts at home, I was so relieved that someone was so quickly willing to offer me help.
Sarah helps a mama try on a coral Baby K'tan

We started with the basics - how to tighten a wrap and work each strand through a front wrap cross carry. We worked on that carry for a while and realized that maybe it wasn't the best option for me so I was taught another carry - front cross carry. The carry was simple, easy to get baby in and out (poppable), and easy for me to tighten! I was so incredibly relieved!! I walked out of that meeting with a carry that worked so well for us that it is still my go-to carry with my second son.
Tiffany helps a mother adjust her ring sling

I continued to attend meetings and at each one I learned more and more. After lots of practice tightening, I learned how to get my then toddler on my back and complete the secure high back carry. I learned how to do a slip-knot with a rebozo carry. As my skills improved, I started being able to help others. 

AM teaches a mom to back wear and a dad attempting
a carry with his wife before trying it with baby
Most important of all, at every meeting, I got to talk to amazing mamas. We would swap tips for babywearing and tips for life. We'd offer each other support, encouragement and kind words. Everyone was at various points in their babywearing and mothering journey and was always so open to teaching when asked. While I have not been to as many meetings as I would like lately, I know that if I ever need some guidance a meeting is just a short car ride away.

Posted by Lorelei

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Life Out of Focus - PPD and Babywearing

She is 11 weeks old, and she rarely smiles.  Maybe my post-partum depression has contributed to that.  Maybe she is just a serious baby.  Only time will tell.  Things started out well.  I was happy.  My husband was happy.  Even her big brother seemed happy.  A large part of this happiness was that I was wearing A around the house and out of the house since the day we came home from the hospital.  I used a K’Tan and a Moby, and after a BWI meeting at two weeks, I ordered a mei tai as well.  We were a happy baby wearing family, and everybody noticed.  I got compliments all the time.

Then, at four weeks, after a blessedly long paternity leave, my husband went back to work.  I wore Baby A.  I kept up with Big Boy B’s preschool schedule.  I kept house.  I allowed myself the luxury of ordering groceries because two kids and grocery stores just didn’t appeal.  But something wasn’t right.  I read more about babywearing.  Keeping A close was the only thing that made me feel completely at ease.  I decided to order a woven wrap.  It came, and I worked hard on the front cross carry – poppable and good for newborns.  

Things were not going well for me.  I was angry at everyone who was not A. I was anxious whenever A wasn’t right there with me, even when I could see her across the room.  She also started crying more, especially in the evenings, and the only thing that soothed either of us was wrapping her close and wandering about the house and neighborhood singing.  I couldn’t even begin to deal with anything else if she wasn’t near me, and babywearing facilitated that.  After several frantic phone calls to my psychiatrist, I was diagnosed with post-partum depression.  

I was absolutely beside myself.  I felt like I couldn’t give my family or my baby anything that they needed.  I was especially worried about my growing A who I felt like needed so much from me.  At her two month check up, which I wore her to, I broke down in front of the doctor.  I tried to explain that my PPD was being treated, but it was hard for me to play with the baby or show her toys or do anything other than wear her.  That doctor saved me.  She told me that right now, what my daughter needed was to be close to me, to feel me, to smell me, to hear my heart beat.  She told me that if all I could do for my baby was feed her and wear her and make sure she got her tummy time, then I had nothing to worry about.  For the first time in weeks, my tears were tears of relief.  For everything I couldn’t handle, I could handle this.

BWI has done so much for our journey.  We’ve been coming to meetings since I was pregnant with A, and we’ve learned so much.  The wonderful volunteers have taught me about the different carriers, checked my positioning in whatever I’m wearing, introduced me to new ways to wear old carriers, and so much more.  Their assistance and education has made wearing A so much easier, which in turn has made having PPD a little more bearable.  Wearing babies makes life better in so many ways.  

Posted by Mama C

Editor's note: If you are struggling following the birth of your child, please talk to your doctor. You aren't alone, and you CAN get help. Also, talk to us at meetings, there is a lot of support to be found in our group for finding the right treatment, or just agreement that being a mom is really hard work.