What started out as a simple parenting tool, has become a bit of an… um… obsession?
It all began with the Moby wrap. I had come across one at Target when I did my baby registry, so I went ahead and asked for one. I didn’t really know anyone who “wore” their baby, but I was a little on the “crunchy” side and had seen some women walking around Berkeley wearing babies, so I decided to give it a try. When Dragon Baby was only 2 weeks old, I wrapped those 10 layers of Jersey cotton around and around me in the heat of the California summer – and I made myself a sandwich. It was liberating. She fell asleep right away, and I was so excited that I left her in there until we both were drenched in sweat and red faced.
All that fabric was too much for me to contend with, so I marched right back to Target and checked out what other kind of baby carrying devices they might have for me to try out. The Target by my house did not have an Ergo or a Baby Bjorn like many other ones I have since visited… and without knowing any better – I came home with an Infantino Swift (which I would later hear “lovingly” referred to as a crotch-dangler). It was quite uncomfortable, even with a little baby… but I was hooked. I loved the freedom and the ease of it. I loved that I could take her hiking on trails and not feel confined by the stroller. She loved being at my level and never fussed when she was riding in it. When I got home from our hiking adventures, I would be so sore I could barely move. Never mind that, I was glowing with pride and independence. Nobody could stop us now!
Lucky for me, I was a regular at La Leche League Meetings, and somebody saw me with this crappy carrier and very sweetly encouraged me to check out the local Babywearing International group that was to be meeting the following week. Me and Dragon baby were always on the lookout for new friends and activities (I was new to the South Bay and had no other mommy friends to speak of), so I eagerly arrived at the meeting a week later with my baby strapped into her Infantino.
Many of the women there were helpful, especially the Volunteer Babywearing Educators… but some of the moms were a little overzealous. Imagine my horror when one told me that this narrow based carrier that I was wearing my daughter around in was apparently going to cause hip dysplasia, over stimulation, and possibly cause her to never walk again! The horror! I later found out that all of these concerns were largely exaggerated and that narrow based carriers were not really dangerous, so much as uncomfortable… but at the time I felt like Dragon Baby had narrowly escaped permanent disfigurement. Someone there was selling a ring sling, which I promptly bought and wore out of the meeting.
That ring sling was the beginning of the end of my disposable income for the next few years. It was a million times more comfortable than the Infantino, and it gave me real “street cred” in the babywearing community. Dragon Baby’s father was less than thrilled when I got rid of that crappy Infantino. The ring sling was a little too “feminine” for his liking, and all the dads on T.V. had front facing carriers, so why couldn’t he? I conceded, and bought him an Ergo. You know, since he twisted my arm. Ha. It didn’t front face, but it resembled a back-pack and was easy for him to put on. He immediately loved it. So did I. I wore that thing EVERYWHERE for over a year. Grocery shopping, hiking, around the house, airports, farmers markets, you name it. Ergo went there. We loved it so much, we bought a second one – used. I was able to nurse my baby girl anytime she wanted, hands free. It was truly liberating. I honestly consider it to be the most comfortable, accessible, user friendly carrier in my stash to this day. Only problem, was it didn’t appeal to my fashion sense. Long time retail employee and lover of all things fashionable, I was dying of embarrassment when we’d stop by the local hipster coffee shop and they’d all turn their noses up at that “lady with a baby”. How could I be the young, hot mom that I dreamed of being with this ridiculous baby backpack strapped to me?! The realization was almost immediate. I needed to wrap.
A dear friend of mine I had met at BWI was really into woven wraps. I remember disagreeing rather passionately with her about the ease and practicality of the wrap versus the SSC (soft structured carrier). “You would look ridiculous doing that in a parking lot” I scoffed. Months later with my tail between my legs, I found myself asking her about “that babywearing swap thing” she was always talking about. She enthusiastically filled me in on all the places to buy them. And buy them I did. Months later and (I can’t say exactly how much because…. ouch) some dollars later… I am a wrap fanatic. I’m what is known in the community as a “churner”, buying and selling and trading over and over to try out all kinds of new fabrics, patterns, and lengths of wraps.
My daughter has become my favorite fashion accessory. People don’t scoff at the “lady wearing her baby” when I’m walking around with her in these elegant woven art pieces. People smile, women ask where I got them from, and men tell me they wish someone could carry them around like that. (Seriously. They say that. Creepy, right?) Every formal occasion we attend first begins with “what wrap am I wearing?” and the outfit evolves from there. My simple head to toe black on black attire is made into high fashion with this amazing patterns and weaves. I wear them the way I used to wear scarves… but with a baby inside. I know it’s a strange hobby, but how amazing is it to be able to wear your baby close to you, keep her safe and happy… all the while looking like a piece of artwork? Dragon Baby shares in my obsession. Every time a new Tyvek envelope comes in the mail, her eyes light up and she starts to shout “Wrap! Wrap! Wrap!” I go ahead and let her open them and twirl them around herself awhile before I wrestle it out of her hands and toss her up on my back to try it out.
I’ll be sad when the day comes when she is to big to be wrapped anymore. I will slowly sell off all my beautiful fabric masterpieces one at a time and probably sob over each one. They will go on to wrap other babies in different states or countries – other newborns or toddlers – and I will take my place in the histories of these individual wraps and their many travels. I might keep one or two around – just in case one day on a whim, if she is feeling sick or scared or vulnerable, she asks me to wrap her up like I used to do. With my heart all a-flutter, I’ll do just that.