Babywearing, And What I Wish I Had Known Sooner

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Over the past week, we have come across some obstacles that have been very trying and time-consuming. They are of the “Spring cleaning” spirit, and, as a stay-at-home mom, the majority of the tedious work involved has been placed on my shoulders. I delegate when I can, but most things are better done during the day, so I chip away at them around caring for Mr. Sweetie. Needless to say, I am very busy!

This time has also coincided with Sweetie’s usual separation anxiety becoming a bit more pronounced, which has meant that he wants to be in my arms nearly the entire day. I love the extra cuddle time, but it makes getting things done a lot more of a challenge. In the earlier part of Sweetie’s life (actually, up until the past couple weeks), I just carried him around everywhere in my arms when we weren’t lying down napping, which absolutely worked — except he got heavier, more squirmy, and it was putting undue stress on my back, wrists, and arms. He isn’t quite big enough to walk, so I decided to go full-on into the habit of babywearing.

I had been “gifted” (meaning, bought for myself on behalf of someone else) a Baby K’Tan, a simple cloth carrier meant to take the time and possible complication out of using a wrap, but providing a softer, potentially less restrictive way to carry Mr. Sweetie around than lots of the packs out there. The thing is, I had gotten the Baby K’Tan not long after Sweetie was born, and have lost a couple more pounds since then, so I felt for a while that I had gotten a carrier in a size a little too big, and that it actually didn’t help me that much, and was basically the same thing as carrying him around in my arms because I found myself still supporting him with one arm.

So I shelved it for a while; honestly, until I recently saw a woman in the local market with a carrier that I liked the looks of, and I inquired as to the brand. She gave me the name, and I went home and did a little research. I like what I read about it enough to spend almost $150 on it a couple days later, because I knew the time had come for me to get serious about finding a more comfortable, safe, and practical way to tote Mr. Sweetie around.

It was after I bought the new carrier, a Lillebaby, that I pulled out the K’Tan again and gave it another shot, just to see what my options were in different situations, and the feel of one versus the other. It turns out I hadn’t been using it correctly in the beginning, which is why it seemed not to work for me, but I am so happy that I tried it again!

Now that we have all of this cleaning going on, I am able to get a lot accomplished with my little sweetie snuggled up against my body. When he is tired, he can nap right there with me; when he is awake, we dance around and play. We have even been practicing nursing while I am carrying him, so that he has everything he needs in one place!

It has been such a wonderful investment, and addition to my life, and mami repertoire, to have these carriers, that I felt like I really needed to share my experience. I was asked a couple days ago if having a baby was what I had expected it to be, and that question inspired me to write this post, to impart the most valuable experiences I have gleaned thus far in my journey of motherhood. So I have a little list here, for any mami-to-be, current mamis, friends of mamis, or just curious readers, that I feel best expresses what I wish I had known before I gave birth, or early on in Mr. Sweetie’s life:

  1. A crying baby doesn’t always mean that you are doing a terrible job. Most of the time, they cry because they are hungry, have a soiled diaper, or are tired. Sometimes, they are lonely, teething, or bored. But there are also times that they cry to relieve stress, tension, or frustration, and that’s okay. I spent the first month of Sweetie’s life basically marooned in bed with him, almost too terrified to move, because I was trying to do everything I could to keep him from crying. No one had told me that he is just going to cry sometimes, and not to be worried or beat myself up over it.
  2. Invest in a baby swing. I didn’t have a swing for Mr. Sweetie until he was about three months old, and, as soon as I got it, I wished I had had one earlier! I know not all babies really like it much, but, before I got onto carrying him around with me, it allowed me for the first time since he was born to put him down for a couple minutes and make some lunch for myself, go to the bathroom alone, or clean something.
  3. Invest in a baby carrier or two. “Investing” can be getting a hand-me-down, or looking for a group of women that have a collective “library” of baby carriers to rent, if money is an issue. There is also an affordable, easy way to make your own basic no-sew baby carrier (very similar to the Baby K’Tan) in the video here. I suggest having two, just because I like the idea of having two options to choose from for different outings. For example, the Baby K’Tan is very quick and easy to get on and off, and Mr. Sweetie is more likely to sleep through me taking him out and lying him down than with my Lillebaby. But the Lillebaby can be used as a baby backpack, to completely free up my front, take him on longer excursions more comfortably, and keeps him secure for longer because it doesn’t stretch like the K’Tan does. There is a little bit of a learning curve for any carrier, but what you get for your time and effort is completely worth it, and video tutorials can be found all over YouTube if the directions in the box are not descriptive enough. There are also many known benefits to carrying your baby that you can read about here.
  4. Things can still get done if you see them as steps rather than tasks. I like to start something and do it until it is completed before I move on to other things, but having a baby has taught me how to start multiple things and still get them all done. For example, Mr. Sweetie is asleep, so I put him down for a couple minutes to get onto a ladder and clean the ceiling fans. He wakes up before I finish them, so I put him in the carrier and start folding laundry. He falls asleep before I am done, so I put him down again for a moment and finish cleaning the ceiling fans. It can be a little frustrating at times to adjust to this new way of doing things, but it will help you to stay productive, and still be able to attend to your little sweetie as a calm and sane mami.
  5. Make time to do something every day that is your own. With all of the energy put out by you to take care of your little sweetie, and all the attention that said sweetie gets from other people, it is extremely important to remember that you are a person, too! Everyone will want to talk to you about how the baby is doing, so give yourself some time every day to do something that is not centered around your baby. It will help you to maintain your patience and mental health. Even if it’s just something small, like reading for a few minutes, it makes all the difference in the world.
  6. Everyone has advice on your parenting style; remember that it is just that: advice. Sometimes, people know a little more than you do about having children and parenting, but, the truth is, everyone has a different style and different philosophy regarding their approach to parenting, and, though they are most likely well-intentioned, it may be stressful to hear so many different things about how what you are doing is okay one minute and not the next. Just know that everyone had to learn things on their own, through trial and error, so know why you do what you do, and feel comfortable with your decisions because they work for you. So long as your little sweetie is being loved and cared for and nurtured, you are doing a great job!
  7. Things will change. For better or for worse isn’t part of the equation; it will just be different, and in a couple weeks, different again. Try to remember this when sleeping patterns change, when eating habits change, when teeth start coming in, etc., and not to let it ruin your day. It is normal, and so, when things are going smoothly, enjoy the ride as much as you can!
  8. Maintaining your relationship with your significant other requires getting creative. Maximize the time and opportunities you have to remain close to your partner. These are not times or opportunities that will present themselves on any sort of glimmering platter or in the form of a gilded spoon; it is a conscious participation and cultivation. Part of having a baby is being on call at any moment for when that little sweetie needs you, so do your best not to lose yourself in focusing only on them, and have some fun with the one you love! Sex may not be comfortable for you for a while after having a baby (even if you get a c-section), so you have a few choices: 1) find other ways to please each other, 2) if you are both okay with taking a break from sex until you are more comfortable, find other ways of being intimate (hugging, making out, etc.), 3) have sex anyway, gently, and work through the discomfort until it becomes enjoyable again. Just don’t let the spark in your relationship fade, if it is a relationship you want to keep. A baby doesn’t have to mean the end of the connection that gave you the desire for the baby to begin with!

 

These are the things I wish I would have known before having a baby, and I hope they are of some help to even just one person out there. Enjoy those little sweeties! The time really does fly by!

 

What are the things you wish you would have known before you had your sweetie? How would this knowledge have changed your experience for the better? Is there anyone with whom you may share this wisdom?

 

Encouraging Empowered Mamis Everywhere To Do What They Do

 

Mami

Mami is an artist, aspiring entrepreneur, and first-time, full-time mother. She enjoys long walks with Mr. Sweetie, good food and cooking, her family and dear friends, writing, arting and crafting. She doesn't know everything, but wants to learn, and loves to do research and share what she finds. She thinks life is like a box of puzzle pieces: you keep trying until it fits, because every piece has its place. She owns and operates whatever she sets her mind to, and knows that the sky is only the limit if you haven't left the ground yet.

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