14 Dec

Why I Wear by Bonnie Stafford

309890_10151403038791001_1203272212_nWhen people ask me why I wear, I like to start with why I DON’T wear: 

  • I don’t wear because it’s what the “cool kids” do. Although a lot of cool kids wear.
  • I don’t wear because that’s what some parenting expert in some parenting book told me to do. Although there are plenty of parenting experts and parenting books that  say babywearing is a good idea.
  • I don’t wear because I hate strollers or people who use strollers. In fact, we have a stroller we like and use often.
  • I don’t wear because the carriers are pretty. Although there are lots of pretty carriers.

I wear because it allows me to thrive as a parent at times when all I can do is put one foot in front of the other.

I knew I wanted to wear even before my daughter was born. We didn’t have a lot of money, so I started with an off-brand stretchy wrap from a discount website, and one of those pouch slings that seem like they’re free – but really aren’t. I put my daughter in the stretchy wrap when she was about three days old, and I was hooked. That wrap helped us transition into parenthood because it was so easy to simply fold her into our life.  

Then, at about 4 weeks, she developed colic. The crying was seemingly endless. Nothing 10929943_10153029225481001_7609860376646516309_nseemed to help… except that wrap. If all else failed, I could wrap her up and she would settle down, and usually fall asleep. I remember calling my mom one day and asking her to go with me to the mall because I couldn’t pace my house alone for one more second. If I was going to have to walk her around in the wrap, I was going shopping.

Then, at 6 months, my husband went back to school at night. We both worked outside the home from 8am-5pm. Then he was in school from 5:30-10:30pm Monday-Thursday. My mom helped us a lot, letting me eat dinner at her house and keeping me company. When we went home, though, it was just me and baby girl, and she did NOT want to be put down. At this point, our stretchy wrap was no longer working and I was struggling to even carry our stuff in from the car in the evening. I was sinking fast. I could feel a depressive episode (something I’ve struggled with most of my life) coming on quickly.  

Then, miraculously, a friend invited me to a sling party with the local babywearing play group… and it changed my life. The leader showed me how to put baby girl on my back and let me borrow a soft structured carrier from the lending library. Suddenly, I could get us packed up and out the door in the morning. I could bring our stuff in from the car in the evenings, sort the mail, eat at my own house (even if it was cereal while standing up) not to mention grocery shop and a million other that allowed me to feel like I could do this mom thing. And all while keeping baby girl close, which is what she needed.  

From then on, we were a team. With her on my back, we could conquer the world. I became increasingly passionate about helping other caregivers in similar situations and when the leader of that local babywearing group decided to step down, I offered to take over. Given our hectic schedule and my extremely limited knowledge, I still wonder what I was thinking. But I knew how much babywearing had helped me in my journey and I wanted to pass that on to others.  

11188466_10153186358691001_4005417460761785092_nThree years later, that little play group is now Babywearing International of Charlotte.  We have over 1,300+ people in our Facebook group, 10 volunteer educators, and 8 meetings every month. We have three lending libraries with over a hundred carriers in total. We’ve helped thousands of people over the years.  

But it all started with an adorable, spirited baby girl who wanted nothing more than to be held.

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