We moved across the country when my first child was five weeks old.
Becoming a mother wasn’t something that was even in my peripheral vision, until the day I took a positive pregnancy test – and there I was: a mother. Starting my journey into motherhood in a new state with virtually no connections to anyone wasn’t how I would have envisioned it, but that is what it was. I joined several parenting groups, but lacking any real connections initially, I spent a lot of time alone while my husband was a work.
Being alone and being a new mom felt isolating. Sitting in our apartment alone, I felt homesick, tired, and lonely. So I would put my baby in his carrier and we’d walk around the apartment, the complex, or to the park down the street. We’d walk around Target or Ikea for hours. All I knew was that he always wanted to be held, and our carrier allowed me to hold him for long periods of time without feeling completely worn out. Sometimes I’d even manage to get shopping or cleaning done, too!
I needed that connection as much as he did, I just didn’t know it at the time.
Looking back, I now know I was suffering postpartum depression. I experienced it with all three of my children, but being able to keep them close (while engaging with their siblings) really did help me feel like I was sort of okay at this mothering thing.
I didn’t realize the impact babywearing would have on the way I parent, or even my life now as a parent to older children.
I remember, before my son was born, I looked at carriers as just another piece of baby gear. Having three children in three years, babywearing became an extremely valuable tool in my parenting toolbox.
I found my footing in a babywearing group; while at the time I didn’t identify as a “babywearer,” I was able to find some like-minded parents and began to feel confident as mom. Joining this groups left a lasting impact on my life: I’ve made lifelong connections with some incredible woman, even after another across country move.
Several years ago, people started asking me to teach them about carriers. I started doing small group classes and private consults for new parents to learn the basics of babywearing and to help them try several types of carriers. Since then, I have found a home teaching classes at a local birth center, and I work with local retailers offering classes and training staff on how to use carriers. Now I even work with several baby carrier manufacturers. Helping new parents discover this dynamic tool that helps them survive – and thrive – has become one of the most fulfilling parts of my own parenting journey.
I don’t know who I would be as a mother without having had a baby carrier to keep my kids close.
My youngest is now three. I wear him less and less as time goes on – it isn’t as necessary as it was when I was caring for a newborn alongside toddlers. Still, I sometimes carry my big kids when legs get tired on hikes, or when long days at school bring out frustrations and big feelings. As I age up from babywearing, I hope I can inspire and empower new parents in their own parenting journeys, whatever that might mean for them.