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.

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