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Jack Wearing: My Baby Wearing Story

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder babywearing her son.

It wasn’t an accident that I became to be called The Badass Breastfeeder. I have always had a reputation for being tough, cool and ornery. I never pass up an opportunity to flip someone off, tell a creepy dude at a bar to go fuck himself or put a coworker in their place when trying to manipulate me. As a social worker I have been known as a fierce advocate for my clients, not afraid to disagree with a lawyer or judge and I have executed many manual restraints with aggressive teenagers while wearing a pair of high heels. I have always been a social and outgoing adult. I have always had a lot of boyfriends and a huge group of friends. I have never been one to snuggle up one on one. I’m not much for cuddling. I have never enjoyed holding hands. I have always known this about myself. I am not ashamed of it and it never occurred to me that I would ever think that much about it. It’s just something that my friends and husband comment on and laugh about.

While planning for my baby’s arrival the first thing I wanted on my registry was the Baby Bjorn. I thought it was so cool to see babies strapped to the chest of their parents. You could strap the baby on and strut around and show off. It had me written all over it. Once Jack was born I used it a couple of times to limp my way to Starbucks. (You know that feeling after delivery of so much pressure that you imagine all of your insides are going to come pouring out of your vagina?) He usually fell asleep. I didn’t use it long because it killed my back. I heard other Moms talk about the Moby so I ordered one. I loved the way it looked. I thought this was going to be the start of something amazing. After I struggled through the graduate courses it took to learn to get it on I enthusiastically put Jack in it. To my surprise he started fussing. Like the good new Mom that I am I freaked out. I quickly took him out. I kept trying, but he kept fussing. I was so sad that this was not working out as planned (I was still too new at this to realize that nothing works out as planned and you will end up working a million times harder than you thought and need to do some serious self-reflection on your own life to figure out how to proceed).

I came to the conclusion, as many new Moms do, that he didn’t like being that close to me. The Moby held him much closer to my body than the Baby Bjorn. I thought he didn’t like being smashed right up against my bare chest. Well, I fought through breastfeeding and so I thought I would use that same tenacity to fight through this as well. I decided that each day I would put him in it for a few minutes to get him used to it. So each day I would strap him on and go for walks and bounce around the house and pat his behind. I was so anxious during these times. As soon as he fussed I worried and squirmed around trying to find a new position in hopes that he would settle down. I watched the clock and waited for the minutes to go by. Sometimes he would get so fussy that he would just break down into tears. Then I would take him out.

Strangely enough he would stop crying when I took him out, but he wanted me to pick him up. He was happiest with me holding him on my hip, no carrier, just me and him. This was beautiful and all, but my arms were getting very tired and he was only getting bigger and fast. It didn’t feel right to put him down so I struggled through my day one-handed. I learned to cook like this, straighten up the house, and get dressed. It seemed smoothest to have him in my arms off to the side on my hip. On walks he seemed happiest to be in his stroller and doze off.

I started to attend La Leche League meetings where the leader told me that I could carry him facing out once he could hold his head up. She said that he might fuss less in this position. I was very excited to hear this because I had read some articles stating that the face-out position was not good for baby. I carried him this way a few times and he did seem to like it better. Meanwhile I was on another mission to learn as much about baby wearing as I could. I learned that in fact this face-out position is not ideal for young babies. It leaves them overstimulated and unable to see Mommy. The position leaves their legs to dangle putting pressure on their spine, hips and crotch. I learned about how carriers such as the Moby and Ergo (to name just a couple) were made to keep baby’s knees higher than their butts (relieving that pressure), the fabric spreads all the way to the backs of their knees for support and they are much more comfortable for Mommy.

As I did this research I also learned that baby wearing was not just a cool way to carry a baby. It is actually another way to bond; to form attachment between Mommy and baby. I learned that baby wearing is as old a practice as human beings and is practiced all over the world. I learned that I had been misreading Jack and his dislike for the carrier. The truth is being close to me, very close to me, was exactly what Jack needed and wanted. The truth about baby wearing is that these babies cry less. Premature babies that are worn gain weight faster and Mommy helps regulate their breathing and heartbeat. Baby is stimulated by Mommy’s motion while being worn. Baby wearing helps Mommy gain confidence as she becomes more in tune with her baby’s needs and cues. Mommies that wear their babies have less postpartum depression. Daddies that wear their babies are more in tune with their babies. And it’s convenient for taking care of chores and doing recreational activities and navigating a crowd.

So why wasn’t I seeing this with Jack? Well, remember all those boyfriends I didn’t want to cuddle with? I once again had to dig deep. This closet I keep thinking is finally cleaned out is bigger than I thought! Jack likely became upset in the Moby because he felt me become anxious. It was likely me that felt uncomfortable with him so close; with that level of intimacy. I had never held anyone that close to me before. Now here I am trying to hold my baby to my chest. It felt wrong, too close. So my initial reaction to his fussing was to chock it up to him not liking that closeness either. It’s funny now to think back at the things I told myself about my baby. “He needs to self soothe,” “he doesn’t like to be so close to me,” “he much prefers to face outward” “he likes the stoller, he can nap in it!” I thought of my baby as a grown adult with extreme likes and dislikes, with the need to take care of himself, with a set of sophisticated tools to get through his day.

Abby Theuring, The Badass Breastfeeder babywearing her son.

Jack likely didn’t fuss in the Baby Bjorn or on my hip because these were not as close and did not make me anxious. As fast as I learned this about myself and baby wearing I bought an Ergo. A purple Ergo. It’s oh so pretty. Then I took a deep breath and brought Jack in real close and haven’t let go. The stroller is dusty and people at the zoo look at me crooked, but I know that this is right for us. I know that I am growing leaps and bounds as a mother and a woman. I have never held someone this close to me and I am just fine with that. If I could get him any closer I would.

Choosing baby wearing is a tool for bonding and attachment. Your baby’s brain is developing at the speed of light at this early age. The closer he is to you, the healthier this development. If you choose to practice this, which I highly suggest you do, keep these things in mind. 1. Make sure your baby can breathe. 2. Knees above butt while seated in the carrier. 3. Fabric should spread from knee to knee. 4. Use common sense. If it doesn’t seem safe it’s not!!! You can learn more at www.babywearinginternational.org.

Abby Theuring, MSW

Comments

  1. This was beautifully written. I have tears of happiness and can feel through your words your love for Jack. I also started out with the Bjorn and “strutted” (lol i love that) around…with a very achy back i may add…i thought i must have been doing it wrong for it to hurt so bad! Doesn’t it feel good to learn things about yourself that you had no idea existed. Being a mommy is so fucking awesome.

  2. Thank you so much! “Being a Mommy is so fucking awesome.” HA! What a great sentence! So simple, so concise, so energetic! I wish I had thought of it!!!

  3. Love the post, your honesty and wearing my little one, too! Plus, kudos for persevering in finding something that initially felt right through what didn’t, until finding the way it DID. So many things (or is it all of them?) seem logical about parenting and then all of a sudden are SO confusing, even torturous! (Seriously. Like giving my toddler medicine, which tastes like pure sugar in my book & somehow still ends up in a sticky screamfest. Why? WHY??) But then, we emerge in all our badass glory, birdie held high for our obstacles to see. You know, like that Eleanor Roosevelt quote, “A woman is like a tea bag- you never know how strong she is until she gets in hot water.” … except with more children and cursing.

    Julie 🙂
    http://theprogressiveparent.blogspot.com/
    http://www.facebook.com/boobsarebabyfood

    • I sure feel that way too. I guess I always felt like a well adjusted person, but I never knew all the things I could do until I became a Mom. It’s also like that quote going around FB. Something like “You never know how strong you are until you have no other choice.” Thanks for taking time to read this. Means a lot to me!

  4. Ace!
    Wearing your baby is badass, we have had various pretty stretchy wraps and then we bought a purple ergo! Same as yours and the littley LOVES IT!! It makes me feel so proud when I can be standing at a busy train station feeding my baby with the sleeping hood up and no one knows, I don’t have to struggle with a pushchair just strap her in and away we go. I love the way babies giggle and smile when being carried in a sling/ I have just bought a new didymos wrap and it is frickin awesome. Heres to badass babywearing !

    • Purple Ergo!!! Woo Hoo!! I was just in Target today and ended up a traffic jam with a cart and a stroller and I was like just standing there directing traffic cool as a cucumber as the ladies were so stressed out with their huge loads. Me and my babe in the purple Ergo just looking on at the silliness. I’ll have to look Didymos. I am on the market for a new one. I can see this being very addicting!! Here’s to you Mama!

  5. Thank you very much for taking the time to write this. I learned a lot from this entry!

  6. Wow! I am so glad this helped you! It makes it so much easier to find time to write the next one.

  7. I never could get my baby to like the ergo. My ergo is basically in new condition. Used maybe 3 times, now sitting in a closet 2.5 years later. I just didn’t have the patience. But it is 2.5 years and we are still breastfeeding. This attachment parenting is not an all or none type thing.

  8. I love that you did timed wearing trials! And am so glad you found the Ergo. So much more comfortable than a Bjorn. (Like a previous poster,I, too, thought I was doing something wrong for it to be hurting my back so much.)

    I’m happy I followed a link from somewhere else (Renegade Mothering, maybe?) and found your blog. It’s nice to not have too much to catch up on, too! I love to read blogs from the first post and sometimes that means years worth of writing…

  9. I wore my baby until she was about 18 months old and recently at 22 months, at airports Spain to Australia. Very handy at airports. I´ve stopped babywearing cause she´s just too heavy for me now. I´m tiny and she´s a very big toddler. She still nurses, we cosleep and we are a very affectionate family. I loved the babywearing months and will always remember that beautiful bonding time. I lived in rural China for a while and learnt a few interesting things there about parenting. They wear their babies in beautifully hand-made, colourful carriers, with intricate embroidery. So much pride. They wear them ALL day and lots of men babywear.

  10. Great write up!! So how many hours a day should a baby be worn? Do you still give her tummy time/jolly jumper time etc?

  11. I want to thank you for this post! After reading it I ran out and got a Ergo. My other carrier killed my back so much I ended up just holding my little girl. But I have a lot of joint problems so it started to be to much. With just having the Ergo for one night I was able to have my girly in it and get so much done! Plus my little one loves to fight sleep fell right asleep on my chest! Because of your post I am now helping my daughter and myself!

  12. I loved this- thank you so much for sharing. You could’ve been telling my exact same story… I have no idea how many carriers and dollars we went thru trying to nail baby wearing! Like you I persisted though and it’s been the best ever.

  13. Your post comes with perfect timing! I’m prego with #4 and looking into babywearing (first time trying it!)
    What wrap has ended up being your favorite so far?

  14. Crystal says:

    I have 3 boys. 5yr, 3yr, and 12 weeks. I always wore my first two, but my third one, every time I wear him he wants to eat. We are still learning how to nurse in the ergo. I have almost given up on wearing it because I have to stop and feed him every time were in a store or on a walk. Anyone have any tricks for feeding a little baby in the ergo.

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