Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Babywearing at the Farm

When I found out I was pregnant with my 3rd baby, I was thrilled that my girls (then
almost 4 and just-turned 5) were old enough to understand who would soon be
joining us and to be excited about bringing baby brother along to experience all
the things we do as a family. I also wondered how our busy life with activities and
school events and family trips would change when we added a new little one. I
decided early on that babywearing would have to be an integral part of our daily
loves, and I am so thankful that I did!

Babywearing truly has opened up a world of possibilities for me and for our family.
Since my oldest, Katelin was a baby, we have been trekking out to Loudoun County
to the Great Country Farm several times a year for a day of outside, seasonal
fun. Depending on the season, we go to play, pick pumpkins, berries, peaches, or
Christmas trees, listen to music, pet some animals and have a picnic. When Austin
was a couple weeks old last fall, the girls started asking when we could go to “Our
Farm” and pick pumpkins. What’s a newly-nursing, c-section-recovering mama of
a 3 week old newborn with two active, enthusiastic big sisters begging for some
family tradition-making to do? Strap on a baby carrier and head for the mountains!
And so we did. Things were a little different this time, mama and baby stayed
behind in the car for a bit upon arrival to nurse and pump- a new experience of its
own. And then I nestled him securely in his new carrier, buckled it on, and off we
went to join the fun. He spent the day snug and warm and happy where I could
monitor him up close, and we didn’t need to worry about pushing a stroller through
muddy fields or heaving it onto a tractor and holding a wiggly newborn in my arms
on a bumpy tractor ride. I could join my girls in the crowded, vine-y pumpkin
patch- hands free to help them pick the best ones! And of course, take pictures of
memories that will last a lifetime.

And so a new tradition was started, and we have returned to “our farm” several
times during Austin’s first year. We picked strawberries on a warm, misty day in
the late spring- a day 4 year old Natalie remembers fondly as the day we ate lots
of berries and then ran for the tractor through the fields when the skies opened up
and rain poured down. Austin enjoyed all the fun in a nice, cool solarveil carrier on
my back. He was a part of the experience in a way that would have been impossible
in a stroller and I was a part of the girls’ experience in a way that would have been
impossible pushing a stroller on the outskirts of the field or trying to carry him in
my arms.

When summer rolled around, we returned to the farm to pick peaches and
blackberries. Once again, baby brother got to see and feel and taste the peaches and
berries while perched on mama’s back. His sisters kept him content with frequent
juicy samples. He had a bird’s eye view of the farm animals and he loved seeing the
cows and pigs and goats. We even watched a mama goat give birth on that visit!

And when we returned again last weekend for the annual pumpkin-picking ritual,
on a perfect chilly fall day, baby brother was again with us in his safe, warm cozy
spot on mama’s back. Able to see everything just as everyone else could, he was
content to take it all in. This time, I could hear his sweet babbling as he made animal
sounds and talked to his sisters. Babywearing made for a much more enjoyable day
at the farm on this blustery day, where babies in strollers were cold and fussing.
The girls talked to him and told him about the tractor ride and which pumpkins
we would pick, and he watched the bonfire (from a safe and secure distance) while
sisters roasted marshmallows.

Our days at the farm in the past year are just one example among so many of how
babywearing has allowed our family to grow and experience things together in the
past year that would have been so much more difficult or impossible without it. And
for that, I am thankful!

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