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....