Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I thought I was a Klutz: A babywearing journey

My experience with babywearing.  Well, it’s not an easy story, but it has its happy ending.  When I was pregnant, my friend gave me a long knit fabric (Moby) with some weird instructions which I assume where in English and I thought: “gee, this is a long piece of fabric and it seems complicated, just watching it makes me dizzy”.  She also gave us an Ergo.  Not as long but equally daunting.  

Once I had my squirmy gorgeous baby in my hands I noticed he loved the upright position and I took the booklet of instructions mentioned before and to the best of my abilities I tried to insert that squirmy being into the Moby.  With no avail.  I wanted so bad to “babywear”, and I remember my summer in the year 2000 in Germany, watching all these tall moms carrying those cute blond babies.  You don’t know me but I see myself as a klutz, or clumsy.  I'm a great cook, I dance like no one, I'm ok at yoga, but crafts, fabrics, strings, no, they are not for me.

Eager for someone to help me “wear” Jacob, my husband found Babywearing International, thank goodness for the internet and I thought:  “ Wow, a group of mums that help other people wear their little ones”.
The first meeting I found a group of relaxed, loving women and lots of happy little children also wearing their dolls.  It was a babywearing oasis, but to me, despite how helpful they were, they sounded in another language. This is totally on me, not a reflection of the group.  [Editor's note: We know we can be overwhelming, please tell us if we need to slow down or simplify.]

Many more scary long fabrics and a thousand contraptions did scare me but while I was there I was able to wear Jacob and I also learned that I had to practice.  I said my goodbye to the Moby but my husband and I found another carrier, one that  finally clicked with us.  I don’t think there are good or bad carriers, they all have advantages, its just a matter of trying and keep practicing.  We liked the Mei Tai and we kept carrying Jacob.
Catalina with Jacob in Bogota

The more I use the carriers the less it’s a scary thing.  We have a stroller, which we take when we will be out for many hours, and most of the time it’s useful to carry the diaper bag, the bottle of water and snacks.  I didn’t want to publicly acknowledge my stroller ownership but I do it in case there are more families who think that you should use either or.  I must say, when I have Jacob on a stroller I feel a bit guilty, I stop constantly to check on him, to talk to him. I feel an ocean of distance separating us.  While he is in the mei tai, I don’t have those feelings, he is usually happy, talks, babbles, sings and he still loves to cat nap while carried.  

I go to my birth country with frequency to be with relatives and having a carrier in the plane has been super useful.  I have scoliosis and I can't carry a 20+ pounds in arms for long.  Also, one day I was travelling solo (super hard) and I was picking up the luggage plus the baby. I had no extra hands, no one was around to help.  I put all the luggage on the cart including the stroller which wasn’t useful since I was already pushing a cart, and I wore Jacob.  When I exited the doors of Dulles airport all you could see was a mountain being pushed.  The carrier saved my life then.

Most of the time when I carry Jacob people smile at him, interact with us and I can see in their eyes that they “approve” or like seeing us walking that way.  But one time as I was getting ready to get Jacob for a walk in Bogota, a relative started teasing us, calling me “an Indian [indigenous]”.  That, to me is NO offense, but it got me thinking. Around the world, the middle classes use the standard stroller as the norm and it is traditional cultures that continue to wear the babies.  While I'm not passionate against a stroller (as you read I have one), I can tell you that being able to wear Jacob has been a wonderful experience, one that has augmented my joy of being a mother and being close to him, heart to heart.   

So if you are clumsy, have your doubts, think it is too hard for you, I tell you convincingly to give it a try, to practice and in no time your baby will wrap his legs around you as a sign that he loves and expect you to wear him or her.

Posted by Catalina


  1. In Mexico women also babywear their babies! I'll definitely try it when i have a little one.