Why We Wear: A look at the IBC Committee

[IMAGE: A large, bright aqua rectangle fills the majority of the square image. The word “GO!” is in white above woven lines of green, yellow, orange and light aqua crossing on the left. The orange stripe contains the IBC logo – the letters iBC with the “i” appearing to wear an aqua sling with a baby in it – and the words “be THERE. be YOU. IbC. July 19-22, 2018, Des Moines, Iowa. Three horizontal photos run along the bottom of the square. The first shows part of the Des Moines skyline with a blue, yellow and red sculpture from the Des Moines sculpture park in the foreground. The other two photos are from IBC 2016 in Atlanta, GA – a man wraps a demo doll on his back with a blue woven wrap. Another figure is visible in the background, also back wrapping a child. The third photo in the stripe is of five women in a line. They are all looking to the right of the frame. The first four women are “contestants” in a babywearing trivia game, the fifth woman is standing on a stage and “hosting” the game. Des Moines photo courtesy of Catch Des Moines (www.Catchdesmoines.com).]

With IBC rapidly approaching we wanted to give everyone a look at the planning committee. To learn why we babywear and are so passionate about it. These are the stories that brought us all together. We look forward to seeing everyone in Des Moines and learning your story too! Tickets are available here.

My cousin gave me a framed backpack carrier in 1999 for my oldest child. I didn’t even know people carried babies then. I never saw anyone else carry a baby. But it kept the number of Code Adams that we had to call down to just two or three. Second child born in 2012 and my still sister-in-law told me I needed an Ergo. I don’t even remember how I heard about babywearing or the babywearing group in OKC that later became a BWI chapter.

I’m involved with BWI because I met someone through a mutual friend who wears her child with special needs. I listened to her talk about how babywearing changed the way her family functioned and provided inclusion for her daughter. I want to promote babywearing to healthcare professionals so people don’t have to just stumble upon it themselves. And so people will stop telling parents that they can’t wear their child because “blank”.  – Robyn

[image of a white women with a white toddler in a SSC in NYC]
I was on a humor forum back in college and they had a parenting thread where people kept talking about this new thing called the Ergo and how amazing it was. Years later I remembered that and wanted to babywear. I couldn’t travel to the next closest babywearing meetings bc of timing, distance, and anxiety, so started a small group close to me. We have been offered to merge with the local BWI, but prefer to keep it a separate space for a few reasons. Later, I won a babywearing giveaway and somehow turned that win into a job at the company.

Babywearing to me is centering, a connection to my roots. I love knowing I’m carrying like my grandmother carried, and the physical weight of my kids on me is one of my favorite feelings in the world. It makes me feel strong and brave. Babywearing meetings to me are very much more than the actual babywearing. The parents at our meetings may have questions or want to practice things here and there, but what I value more is seeing them grin with that validation of “I can do this myself, I have this skill that is inherent in me, I can carry my baby and I understand it well enough that I could teach someone else if I wanted to.” – Becky

I have always known that I wanted to wear my babies. I would see parents carrying their kids in arms and pushing a stroller and knew I didn’t want to do that. When I was pregnant with my first, a friend told me about a local babywearing group on Facebook.

I began with a baba sling, an ergo with infant insert, a Moby and a Happy wrap. Within 3 months of baby girl’s birth, I was on the Tula train and had my first woven. In the 3 years since, I’ve used just about every carrier out there and have developed a love for budget options (towel carry is a favorite) and Woven Wings wraps.

 

I am a member of BWI of Chico, CA, because their membership drive included raffle entries. I live too far away to attend many meetups there, but I am working toward becoming a VBE and fitting their meetings into my schedule.  Sacramento has 3 different independent babywearing groups. I recently stepped down as admin of Sacramento Babywearers to start Sacramento Pouch Project, which provides free carriers alongside the support that caregivers receive within babywearing groups without any of the pressure to trade up. We have secured a grant through First Five Sacramento and are on track to distribute 150+ baby carriers in 2018. – Rebecca

Image of a preemie being worn in a blue floral sling.

My oldest was a preemie because I had cancer. I don’t even remember the day she was born, I didn’t see her for a few days, I had 5 surgeries that day. I had a 3 week break to heal between her birth and beginning chemotherapy. Two of those weeks she was in the NICU. The day before she came home a neighbor I hadn’t met dropped by. She’d been driving by and seen the welcome baby sign and sewn me a ring sling.

I honestly thought she was very strange. How was I supposed to put this 4.5lb tiny baby in this fabric thing and have it work?? I thanked her and went on with life. Then she came back the next week and helped me. Several days in a row until I could do it myself and correctly. It ended up being how I bonded with her, my hands were numb as a chemo side effect making it not safe for me to hold my own baby without help.

The year was 2007, and my area not only had a babywearing group but also a lending library…. something totally unheard of. I didn’t know for a very long time how unusual this was.

As they say the rest is history. I was active in that non BWI group until we moved to Shanghai. There I wore my youngest everywhere. I joke out ergo is better traveled than most people, 3 hemispheres, 10 countries and countless airports. We move back and again I picked up with the local non BWI group. I joined BWI when we moved to Chicagoland in May of 2016. It was a natural thing for me to do. I completed VBE testing and here I am! Over the summer I trained with CBWS and would like use this to teach underserved populations. I have ideas, just not enough hours to do them yet. It’s coming. – Sarah

My cousin gave me a Moby Wrap at my baby shower before my first baby arrived. He had horrible colic, and wrapping him helped. Once he outgrew that, I didn’t realize there were other options. At 11 months, he was diagnosed with several severe food allergies, and keeping him safe in public was such a challenge that we started just staying at home. In a breastfeeding group I was in, someone suggested I try a toddler Tula with him. I felt like I had nothing to lose, so I scraped the money together and ordered one when I could. I joined Tula Love, joined our local BWI chapter’s group, and that was it! I learned all about babywearing and fell in love with everything about it. I ended up getting my VBE followed by my ABE right before my second baby was born. I’m President of BWI of Central Iowa right now and am really enjoying it. My favorite thing is helping someone find a way to get their hands on a carrier that is perfect for them. I also am passionate about helping caregivers who have children with colic, severe allergies and special needs use babywearing to manage their busy lives and comfort their little ones. – Marissa

Photo of a bespectacled browskinned Asian woman with her black long hair (thanks to the castor oil for hair growth) in a ponytail and wearing a blue shirt helping a white woman who is wearing her daughter in a dark blue ringsling.

I tried to wear my first, but I only had a now recalled pouch sling that I never used basically for all the reasons it was recalled.  I never tried with number 2. Then Dezi was born with several heart defects that we didn’t know about prior to delivery. The peds told me that I needed to wear him to keep him in my personal space so people didn’t share their germs with him.  My co-workers all chipped in & got me a galaxy grey Ergo, that I adored. Then someone asked me if I was part of the local group. Wait, what?! There’s a whole group for this? 4 years & another baby later, it’s been an epic journey. I did my BSN honors paper on the benefits of Babywearing.  I wrote a policy for Babywearing in the NICU & helped buy 5 RS’s and train several staff on use. Unfortunately we couldn’t get the hospitalist to approve the protocol, even though she approved of us wearing babies when she saw us.

I used to be a VBE, but gave up that role to focus on a move & career change.  I’m passionate about educating & assisting new heart moms & parents with medically fragile babies to babywear.  My stash has become a little pending library & I donate RSs to heart families. – Tera

My oldest was a very high needs baby. I bought a Moby when he was about 8 weeks old. It made everything so much easier. I felt like a person again. I was able to find balance. Babywearing helped me regain my confidence. Then I found the online community. I felt at home, like I belonged. It was nice to connect with other moms. I started going to BWI meetings to try other carriers. I was thrilled when the group asked for volunteers. Becoming a VBE was a natural transition for me. I’m naturally outgoing and love teaching. Sometimes I have to reign it in so I don’t overwhelm new wearers! Now I’m VP of BWI of Central Iowa. Babywearing also introduced me to weaving. I bought a loom and started making handwoven wraps. Babywearing is a huge part of my life. 💙💙 (2 blue hearts) – Cat

Image in black and white shows a caregiver walking while wearing a toddler in a pouch and a child walking beside them.

I bought myself a pouch when I was pregnant with my oldest.  Then I met some amazing women at a LLL meeting. They were starting a babywearing group.  We lived far from home and the mamas in the group became our family away from family.

NINO had just failed when I that first group I was a part of was starting, and one of the women starting the group was also talking with others at TBW about starting a new national org.  She’d run ideas by our little group to take back to the group forming the organization. That group became BWI, so I’ve been connected from the ground up.

Then we moved a whole bunch of times (5 states in 3 years… wheeee!) and so I would always make new friends by starting or taking over a babywearing group.  For a while I felt like the Johnny Appleseed of babywearing groups. LOL Groups I’m connected to include BWI of Central PA, BWI of Grand Rapids and BWI of Central Iowa – Suzi

I learned mostly online, and by travelling 1 to 2 hours to babywearing meetings in other localish cities (1 bwi, 1 non-bwi), because BWI (Metro) Detroit actually holds no meetings IN Detroit. Take from that what you will. I ended up beginning to host babywearing in my city, although a lot of it was peer to peer & giving out carriers to new parents. I’ve since moved, and attending local BWI meetings when I can.

There is nobody that looks like me, at any BWI meetings in my current location or past as far as volunteers or leaders. My options for in person demo’s of traditional babywearing came from outside my culture. I won’t pretend that wasn’t hurtful. Or that watching other moms quietly & furtively move their purses a tad closer during the 1st few meetings until I showed with a “fancy” wrap that made them feel comfy didn’t sting. I was determined to learn how to wrap and wear though. And I will keep showing up to BWI meetings so that PoC can have some visibility and know that we can do this, have been doing this, and don’t have to be on the sidelines. – Asha

Before I had my baby, I knew I would babywear. However, I had no idea the impact it would have on me as a parent. I struggled deeply with postpartum anxiety and depression and babywearing was a critical factor in helping me bond with my baby as a result. I found community through Babywearing International meetings and wanted to be able to provide the same support to other new parents. After getting involved, I realized that we were missing entire segments of the caregiver population and began working with my chapter to have meetings in places and times that we hadn’t previously addressed. It’s been a wild ride and I cannot fathom how I would survive now with two kids if it weren’t for babywearing! – Stephanie

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