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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Many Layers - Wearing with Head Coverings

When I found out about wrapping in 2012 and headed over to The Babywearer online, one of the many things I loved about it was the diversity. There was someone who looked like me in the banner — a mom wearing a headscarf. (OK, maybe not exactly like me — she was a lot skinnier, but still. It made me feel at home.)
A large group of women wearing headscarves and babies pose in front of a beautiful mural of a tree

Babywearers are from everywhere. I love this little microcosm of the world, brought together by the universal love for our babies.

My own babywearing experience has intersected with my experience as a Muslim American woman in a variety of ways. I hadn’t really thought about it much until I was asked about how my headscarf impacts babywearing.
A mama wears an older baby in a mei tai and a yellow hijab, her son poses in front of her

A woman wears a toddler in a ring sling on front in a pink to
blue grad sling and a matching pink hijab
First, the practical: When I was learning to wrap, there was definitely a lot of fabric going on. First, does the scarf go over or under the wrap? And you’ve already got the wrap catching your shirt — add a scarf while you’re still getting used to back carries and there’s fabric tangled everywhere. Once or twice I ended up with my head pulled over to the side, with all the grace of a young horse trying to scratch its ear with a rear hoof. (If you haven’t seen that, believe me, they do that, and they still have better balance than I do. Granted, they do still have three legs on the ground.) Anyway, I learned quickly to flip my scarf out of the way or lean my head forward to create enough slack in my scarf. Problem solved.

When my baby got older and got the memo that he was supposed to pull out my hair, I chuckled. HA! I had the solution. I put on a scarf. Then he pulled on my scarf and tried to strangle me. Sigh.
In front of cherry blossom trees, a
mom in a patterned scarf wears her
toddler on her back.
The scarf drapes down her front.

For some women who wear a scarf as part of a choice of overall modest dress, there’s the issue that some carriers and some wrap carries accentuate the chest. As one friend put it, “Hello, boobs!” Well-placed scarf tails can help with that.

Some people ask if we’re hot in extra layers. My thin scarf is not what’s making me hot — it’s the little heater on my back causing that. But I’m fond of the little guy (plus, wrap snuggle!), so he can stay. At least longer clothes also mean less sweat, sunblock or other toiletries on the wrap. This is a good thing because with three kids, I’m washing enough emergency laundry already that if a wrap makes it into the pile, I may not see it for awhile, and I will miss it. Once in awhile, I make sure to visit and say hello to my old permastash Gira ring sling that’s been waiting for a courtesy bath for … maybe a year? So less laundry is better here.

There was really only one practical issue that lasted — matching. I had a system built up over the years — solid-colored shirt and a patterned scarf to match. Voila: dressed and out. Wraps messed that all up. I drooled over tri-colored Zaras on the swap, looking so elegant on a simple wooden table for their beauty shot. They did not look so elegant next to my floral scarf. I have relatively low standards for being presentable, but I couldn’t work with poor Zara tri-blue — sadly, it was just too much. The natty phase was a bit of a relief.

Wraps did give me some great ideas for scarves though. I found a scarf with a purple to white grad and made it mine. Now that I’ve gotten my loom up and running — yes, I’ve reached that stage of babywearing — I’m planning to weave lots of scarves in grads.

A woman wears a purple to white graduated scarf and a blue wrap.  The hand of a
toddler is seen reaching over her shoulder as she grasps the little fingers 
With most practicalities out of the way, there remains the issue of visibility. When women go out in a headscarf, we stand out. When we go out with a baby in a wrap or carrier, we stand out. Add both and you are definitely a curiosity. I’m used to that, though, so I quickly stopped caring.

A babywearing and hijab-wearing friend pointed out that the baby in the carrier diverts some of the attention away from you. We’ve both struck up good conversations with strangers who otherwise might not have talked with a Muslim. In today’s climate, with rising Islamophobia, we truly welcome those interactions.
A woman wears a blue hijab while wearing her toddler on her back in a rainbow wrap
The overlook a wooded area with water in the foreground.

Another babywearer who chooses to cover her face wrote her thoughts on this: “I get a lot of looks, and many times people are nervous when they see me, but babywearing often puts them at ease or is an ice-breaker. Just the other day a man stocking the dairy section at the grocery store shouted out to me, ‘Wow! I love that back pack thing!’”
A large group of women make hearts with their arms while wearing
their babies and headcoverings in a wide variety of colors

And that’s really what it all comes down to. No matter what we wear, or where we’re from, or what you did (sorry, wrong song), we all appreciate these back pack things and the sweet babies in them. Thank goodness for babywearing!

Posted by Lina
Photos provided by wearers from around the world

Friday, November 6, 2015

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!

One of our VBEs recently headed off on a new adventure for her family.  They had made great friends here in the DC area, but the time had come to accept a transfer to Texas to be closer to family.  We are going to miss Esmeralda a ton!  But she was still thinking of us as they packed up and headed south and sent me some pics for a blog post.

 Babywearing is an invaluable tool when families need to move.  Whether across town or across the country, a baby on your back keeps them out of harms way when heavy items are being moved around.
Esmeralda with baby on back inside the moving truck finding a place for a large play structure piece
Putting more pieces of the play structure into the truck
 It also leaves your hands free to carry smaller items to the truck yourself.

Esmeralda on the loading ramp to the truck carrying a bed headboard with a toddler on her back
 Once the truck is packed and you hit the road, babywearing becomes a way to contain and connect with baby when popping in for meals, bathroom breaks, and overnights.

Esmeralda in a parking lot with the moving van in back, a preschooler girl stands in front
 and the smile on the baby on back's face says "I'm so glad to be out of the carseat!"
 Babywearing will also come in handy when you have to stop at Target for essentials along the trek.
Toddler in a ring sling drinking from a water bottle with a moving van and Target in the background
And finally, you arrive at the other end of the trip, ready for a good night's sleep before starting the process of unloading in the morning!  Babywearing has made the process of moving a young family 1,500 miles across the country a breeze.  Ok, I'm lying, it's not a breeze, but certainly more bearable.
Esmeralda wears her toddler in front of a hotel in the dark.  Her older daughter
stands next to her with her rolling ladybug suitcase.

We will miss you, Esmeralda.  I hope you find awesome new friends in Texas, and visit us often on Facebook.  Until we meet again....

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We Embraced our World!

This year, International Babywearing Week was celebrated with the theme "Embrace Your World."  This of course had the 2 fold meaning of baby being our world, but also, getting out there to embrace what our local community has to offer.  So we did both!

Our chapter planned several fun and informative activities during International Babywearing Week.  One thing we planned was an auction to benefit the chapter.  This was a great success and raised $400 for our local chapter!
An example of one of the baskets won by the participants!
Our chapter did a day at Cox Farms in Centreville VA to enjoy the slides, music, and donuts!  The members who attended Cox Farms had a great time!
A group of members wearing their little ones at the farm
Another day we hit the Smithsonian National Zoo in DC!  It was a gorgeous day and we saw lions, tigers, and pandas, oh my!
L and her little one look out over the elephants

M wears baby on her back while observing the elephants, and big kid S photobombs in the background.

Even 5yr olds get tired.  M let me borrow her wrap when my 5yr old announced she was worn out

Half our group meets up to see the big cats!

Another chunk of the group plays with the bears

On Sunday we had an event with Takoma Attachment Parenting that gave us a chance to do a little outreach while the bigger kids did crafts!
AM demonstrates using an SSC to a group of parents

The toddlers, preschoolers, and big kids enjoyed making crafts

Our friends at Honest Soul Yoga in Alexandria hosted us for "Rogue Monday."  This has become a DC-MD-VA tradition where we host an event outside of the exact dates of IBW, but on the federal holiday to give working families a chance to participate.  This year we did a fitness and yoga walk.  This was a lot of fun!
The group warms up in the studio before the walk

Making our way out and working on some yoga poses

The group spread out down the path on the walk

Then we gathered together for some more yoga


This was a tough one, arm dips on the edge of the playground

A little relaxation break

Cool down back at the studio
And finally, while IBW was kicking off, several of your leaders were taking an opportunity to grow in their knowledge with the second part of the Center for Babywearing Studies course.  We joined leaders from several local groups including BWI of So. MD, BWI of Central MD, and Quantico Area Babywearers to become better educators to our local members.
A group photo with Joanna from Center for Babywearing Studies
and a group of educators including Angelique, Jessica, and Ann Marie from our chapter.
Overall, IBW was an amazing week and we had a great time spending it with you!  We look forward to seeing you at a meeting soon.

Posted by Ann Marie

Friday, October 2, 2015

International Babywearing Week 2015!

It's just about time to kick off International Babywearing Week 2015!  This year the theme is "Embrace Your World."  We are looking forward to embracing all of the things we love about wearing and the little ones we love wearing.  We have a variety of activities, from family outings to the zoo, farm, and yoga, to regular meetings, supporting local businesses that support us, and finally supporting our community.  This year we are excited to be hosting a carrier drive to benefit Mamatoto Village.  Mamatoto Village , aims to combat the high rates of preterm birth, low-birth weight and infant mortality in the D.C. Metro Area/Baltimore through the advancement of two programs. The Birthworker Program offers training, education, and practical
experience to women of color who are dedicated to the advancement of maternal health equity in underserved communities. Mothers Rising, allows expectant teens and lower income women under age 25 to receive prenatal education, emotional support, and career planning from pregnancy through the first year of the child’s life.  Carriers will be collected at all IBW events and will be delivered along with a workshop on carrier use for the Mamatoto Staff following IBW.

Our full schedule can be viewed here.
For more details on any event, see our events tab on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 6 - Cox Farm  10am-6pm Fall Festival all day. 

Wednesday, Oct 7 - Tysons meeting.  10am-noon.

Thursday, Oct 8 - Bethesda meeting. 10am-noon

Friday, Oct. 9 - Zoo Playdate 10am (meet in front of the visitor center at the main entrance)

Sunday, Oct 11 - Family Activities Day with Takoma AP  - 3:15-4:45pm

Monday, Oct 12 - Family Yoga and Walk at Honest Soul Yoga in Alexandria. 11am-noon

All Week - Baked by Yael (across from the zoo on Connecticut Ave) will be giving 10% discounts to anyone wearing a child in a carrier.

All Week - In previous years we have held a fundraiser raffle for IBW, but this year, we have decided to try holding an online silent auction.  We have some great items available for purchase to support BWI of DC-MD-VA in the coming year.  Please take a look and consider supporting our organization.  http://bwidcmdva2015.eflea.ca/

We hope you will join us for a few activities to celebrate babywearing during this fun week.  Also a final note, the Combined Federal Campaign is currently taking place for federal workers.  If you, your spouse, your parents, or anyone else you know is looking for a cause to support with the CFC, we would like to remind you that this year, we are an eligible charity.  Our CFC# is 60645.

Thank you for all you do to support Babywearing International of DC-MD-VA.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Confessions of a Babywearer: Nursing Troubles

This is the second post in our series of anonymous posts.  Sometimes after baby is born everything doesn't go as perfectly as we hoped, and we need to adjust our world view.  And sometimes, babywearing helps us find our way to the parent we want to be.

I just had my second baby in June. I wore my first baby, my son, a little bit with the Moby and had started to get involved in the babywearing group but it took me a long time of borrowing a couple times to buy a carrier I knew we would both like. This was a whole new world to me because I didn't know anyone who did it. I ended up with the a Mei Tai wrap conversion and love it! Then I got pregnant with my second baby and just didn't have time to make it to a meeting to figure out how to wear my son while pregnant.  But I knew that I loved babywearing and the whole concept of it and that I had to learn more.

In June I had my beautiful daughter. I identified myself as a sort of a natural mom...a nursing mom, a babywearing mom, a part time cloth diaperer. When my daughter was born we had trouble with nursing. I had trouble with my son as well but we worked through it and I nursed him till he weaned himself at 18 months. My daughter ended up having a lip tie, a tongue tie, and a high pallet. Some well-meaning but not so great advice from an LC resulted in our nursing getting way off track and she started to prefer the bottle after 1 month.

I'm exclusively pumping breast milk for her and have felt like I lost my natural mom/nursing mom "card". I felt like a huge failure, like I failed her. She is two and a half months old now and I continue to try to get her back to nursing but I have also accepted the fact that exclusive pumping might be our journey and I need to be proud that I can still provide her 100% my milk. Babywearing comes into this equation by being one of the ways I remain bonded with her and in tune with her. We do skin to skin baby wearing in the house and I try to baby wear whenever we're out and about to get better at it and to encourage her to love it. When she falls asleep against my chest I feel so connected to her and proud of myself for learning this method to care for and be close to my baby. While I still feel saddness about our nursing troubles, I don't feel as much in despair as I did in those early days and I look to baby wearing as one of the ways to bring my confidence back as a loving mama to my beautiful girl.
I'm looking into a second carrier so I can tandem wear with my toddler as well! Thank you to all of the leaders for volunteering your time to share baby wearing with all of us!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Don't say it's over...

Just as I thought my babywearing time was coming to an end I get a second chance…

When my daughter was little, from the time she was born to about the time she was two I wore her all of the time. Wearing an infant and having two hands to get things done around the house definitely makes life easier. As she grew bigger and began asserting her independence she wanted to go up less and less. And finally around the age of two she let me know that she was no longer interested in uppies…and I cried. I put my carrier away in the closet with little hope of using it again. But, I refused to let it go just yet for hope of a chance to wear her again.

Fast forward a year and a half. My daughter is now a full blown threenager and going through the developmental and emotional stages that all three year olds go through. The emotional ups and downs of a three year old can sometimes lead you to believe that they might be bipolar. Because of the increase in extreme emotions we have had to have a lot more snuggle time.

The other day we needed to go shopping at Costco. Usually, she loves the idea of running through the store and trying all of the samples. This day she had no interest in going at all. I talked to her about the trip and tried to see what would make her happy and how I could entice her to go. I tried every trick and bribe in the book. Then, I opened the closet and saw the carrier hanging there. I pulled it out and asked her if she wanted to go uppies on my back for the Costco trip. She finally agreed. We arrived at Costco and she rode on my back for the entire shopping trip. It was great! She was able to get the extra time and I was able to complete a Costco shopping trip without having to wrangle a crazy three year old! WIN WIN!
Three Year old asleep on dad's back while dad enjoys a beer.

Since that day we have used the carrier more in the past couple of weeks than we have in the past year and a half. Last weekend we went to a craft beer festival. The festival happened to cut right into nap time. Usually, my daughter would sleep in the stroller or our wagon but she asked daddy if he could hold her and she could sleep on his shoulder. Thankfully, we had the carrier and she went up on daddy’s back and fell right asleep. It was the best hour of the festival for us…no stroller to push, no child to wrangle, and two free hands.

I am so glad that we have had the option of babywearing to help us get through some of these tough times.
This theme repeats throughout our blog, here's an oldie but goodie story of a similar bigger toddler wearing.
Posted by Lindsey

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Babywearing Saves the Day! Touring Europe with a Toddler in Tow

I was fortunate enough to recently embark on a week-long trip to Europe with my children (ages 6 years and 19 months), husband, and in-laws. In a period of nine days, we experienced three countries, four cities, two transatlantic flights, two shorter flights, two train rides between cities, and rides on trams, subway trains, water buses, and a gondola. We visited countless museums and churches, ascended bell towers, and ate a lot of gelato.  We didn’t bring a stroller, carseat, or any other baby gear except a soft-structured carrier and a pouch sling. The ways in which babywearing  helped make this trip possible and enjoyable are too great to innumerate, but here are the top ways babywearing made this an awesome, doable trip.

With toddler in SSC about to climb some stairs at the Doge’s Palace in Venice, Italy

1. Stairs, stairs, and more stairs:  As many know, Europe has a lot of stairs. Every few feet in Venice, one must cross a bridge with stairs. There are stairs—and often no easy access to elevators—in subway stations, train stations, and within museums. We even boarded the huge airplane for our flight back to US from the tarmac… using stairs.  While a free-ranging toddler (or one trying to wriggle free from your arms) or a stroller are less than ideal in these settings, a carrier makes stairs a non-issue.
Mom, toddler, and big brother all stand atop one of the many bridges in Venice, the canal can be seen below
2.Naps on the go:  In addition to normal napping, babywearing allowed my daughter to conk out whenever needed as she adjusted to the 6 hour time difference. She could sleep contentedly on my back (or front), and we could keep sight-seeing or go out to dinner—a win for everyone.
3.Art museums and glass shops:  No one wants a one-year-old running free when priceless works of art or breakable merchandise abound. No better way to contain the child and still experience the artwork than to toss the toddler into a carrier. An added bonus is that having the baby up at your level allows you to share what you are seeing with one another.

Toddler in front in SSC pointing to art with brother at art museum with religious icons in the background

4. Transportation:  This trip involved a lot of transit time in a variety of vehicles, and babywearing helped us get through the airport, to the train station, or onto the water bus with ease. It freed up our hands to carry bags and kept the baby content and contained as we traveled around.
Toddler in front in an SSC on a gondola ride in Venice, Italy
Toddler in SSC next to 6yr old brother on train to Florence
5. Climbing stuff:  Some of the most fun things we did on this trip, especially from the perspective of my 6-year-old, involved climbing bell towers and the Duomo (dome) in Florence. Taking my toddler up the hundreds of steps through narrow passages would have been basically impossible (and unsafe) had she not been securely strapped to my back.
Toddler barely visible on back following 6yr old in a dark narrow staircase climbing the Duomo in Florence, Italy

Toddler grins in SSC in dark hallway climbing Duomo in Florence

Mom with sleepy toddler on back and beaming 6yr old boy atop Duomo after climb,
the city and mountain view spreads below

Toddler can be seem reaching towards the view atop the bell tower in Florence with a church dome and the city beyond
6. Crowds:  August in a crowded time of year in Europe, and keeping my baby close and safe in a carrier (and not needing to fight my way through the crowds with a stroller) was invaluable.
Toddler enjoys a snack from the safety of mom's back during the trip
7. Sharing:  As is always a benefit of babywearing, having my daughter up on our level, where we could tell her about what we saw and listen to her reactions to what she was experiencing, meant that she came on this trip as an active participant (albeit a young one), and we got to share the places and sites with her up-close. Fun examples include when she noticed an elaborately decorated ceiling in the Vatican Museum and proceeded to point it out to us from my back saying, “See? See?” and her signing “horse” (with sound effects) when she noticed statues of horses.
Back wearing underground in the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul, Turkey
Toddler on mom's back as they stand before the lit Colosseum in Rome in the evening

8. Peace of mind and lack of worry:  This one is difficult to articulate, but having babywearing as a tried and true option made situations on this trip that might have seemed complicated or problematic with a toddler, non-issues.
All in all, it was a fantastic trip, and babywearing was an invaluable asset that helped make it that way.