Monday, May 5, 2014

Meet a Leader: Gwen

Name: Gwen
Name/Age of Child/ren:
Leo, almost 4.5
Max, almost 2.5
What jobs, activities, hobbies, volunteer work, etc. did you do before kids?  Do you still do that thing?
Before I had kids, I worked on Capitol Hill for 4 years (and notoriously said I would never stay home with children) and then after I got married I worked as a government contractor. Then…wait for it…I stayed home for 3 years with my boys! Now I’m back to F/T contracting work.
When did you start babywearing?
I received a hand-me-down Bjorn when I was pregnant and just kind of assumed that’s what everyone used because that is what you see in the movies. I also registered for a pouch sling from target and it was gifted to me. It wasn’t until my first was maybe around 3ish months old that I read the term “babywearing” on an online baby forum and started countless hours of research discovering this new and exciting world in my parenting journey. I tried wearing a few times but bought my first well-researched carrier 4-5 months in and then expanded from there.
Did you know you were going to wear before you had kids, or what prompted you to try it?
I don’t think I really even considered “wearing” being part of my parenting bag of tricks before or when I was expecting. With my first I was able to spend all day and night at first holding and rocking in my arms so it wasn’t something I felt like I was necessarily missing. I lived in an apartment when my first was born with the laundry facility in the basement. So once the honeymoon stage of letting all chores go to the wayside wore off, I HAD to take him with me sometimes to do laundry so I needed to figure out how to make that happen. I never really felt comfortable with my Bjorn, or my pouch for that matter during the newborn stage.
Who was the person who most influenced your babywearing and what did they do that was so influential?
Once I decided I wanted to learn back wrapping, I went home and spent a few sweaty weeks trying to get it right. Then I took my borrowed carrier back to a meeting where Lindsay K taught me how to do an amazing reinforced ruck. I still remember her techniques to this day and it will be 4 years this Spring since I first learned. I pass those skills on whenever I teach this carry.
If someone took away all of your carriers and said they were handing you a newborn and you could only choose ONE carrier from birth until the end of wearing, what would you choose?
I would pick a mei tai. It was the first carrier I ever bought and with my second I loved how easy it was to nurse in it. I also love how quick it can be to get into a back carry.
If you had to choose ONE carrier from what you already own to be the only one you had to use from now forward, what would it be?
In keeping with my last post, it would be my wrapstar (no longer being sold in the US.)
Which carrier do you find you return to time and again, whether it be for each newborn, or just a consistent workhorse?
I LOVE my natibaby Greece. It is perfect for newborn carrying and still supportive enough for my 4 year old. It is soft but supportive and just makes me happy.
Tell me a story of a time that babywearing made a huge difference in the outcome of a family outing.
In my last year at home with my boys I kept my nephew F/T. He came to me when he was 5 months and my youngest was 3 months. It was like having twins. I had one kid in a carrier most of the day and many times they were carried in tandem. I remember one day we went to a friend’s for a play date. I hadn’t anticipated being outside but when the older kids wanted to play in the wet and muddy yard, I put the infants in carriers and was able to push the older kids on swings and just be present. My nephew was crawling so letting him down would have been trying (and ultimately messy) and my youngest was sitting up but I know that without carriers I would have had to juggle two in my arms since they were both pretty needy infants. Using carriers allowed me to attend the playdate and enjoy a nice Spring day without having ask my friend to help me care for the infants or leave them in their carseats.
If you were stranded on a desert island, which carrier would you want?
If I were on a desert island and this island were hot, I guess I would want my bali baby  breeze gauze wrap. I’ve taken many walks on the beach with various sleeping babies in that wrap. It took me some time to figure out how to make it comfortable on my bare (and sometimes sunburned) shoulders but that’s my warm weather wrap.
What is your favorite thing to do while wearing?
My very favorite thing to do while wearing is have the enjoyment of getting out of the car and be able to hold my child close while I run errands. Especially when we have a trying car ride, the only thing I want to do is hold and kiss my child and if we had to use a stroller or sit in the cart, we couldn’t have the same cuddle time. Though they couldn’t tell me when they were young, I think they appreciated the cuddles too.
What is your least favorite thing to do while wearing?
My least favorite thing to do while wearing is potty train. I mean, it’s not on the top of my list not wearing but I spent a lot of time in the bathroom with my second child on my back training the first. Add cleaning up the bathroom after training to that scenario… But I have to say I’d rather have a baby on my back than in my arms while doing this task!
Why did you decide to become a VBE?
I felt a great connection to the babywearing community and met a great network of parents and wanted to carry that on for the next group. It is also a great volunteer activity where you can bring your kids. Of course, now that my boys are crazy and have a tendency to try “kung fu fighting”, I have to limit the number of meetings they attend with me for my own sanity. (note: children of all ages are welcome at meetings!)
What is your favorite things about being a VBE for BWI of DC-MD-VA?
Working with a great group of leaders has really been rewarding! I also adore meeting parents just starting out on their babywearing journey and seeing their needs met by this wonderful skill.

Tell me a story about a time you helped someone at a meeting that stands out to you.
I fondly remember helping a mama tandem wear her 5ish month old twins for the first time. Now she is a tandem wearing fool! 

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