The minute I strapped my baby daughter to my chest, I had an uneasy feeling. My husband was helping me adjust the carrier's straps, and I became more and more uncomfortable. At first, I blamed the baby. She was a big girl — easily 10 pounds and only a week old. That is a lot of weight to carry around.
Then I started to blame my bad back. Didn’t my mom always tell me to quit slouching? Did I listen? No. Because of these issues, I didn’t feel quite up to the task.
It also didn’t help that the contraption seemed like something only MacGyver could figure out. How am I going to do this every day by myself? What am I doing wrong?
I was full of excuses and a little bit ashamed, but I had to admit it: I just didn’t like babywearing.
According to friends, babywearing was the best thing ever. Not only would it provide us more bonding time, but I could actually get things done while I was wearing her. What’s better than that?
Instead, I chose to cradle the little princess in my own arms, without the help of a carrier. Initially, I was OK with that, but then I quickly started to question my decision.
As moms, we constantly question ourselves. I am no stranger to the process — as a mom who chose to formula feed, I am familiar with the guilt that goes along with controversial decisions.
I was also struggling with postpartum anxiety, and the second-guessing about wearing my baby kept me awake at night. When I looked around at other babywearing moms, they seemed so content. What was wrong with me? Was I just selfish?
After the birth of our next child, my son, I swore to do it right this time. Partially because of the guilt I felt the first time around, but also for practical reasons. I live in a city, so babywearing is definitely convenient. I could go in and out of stores easily, I thought. I could hop on the bus and take my baby to the museum. The sky was the limit.
And I did feel like I was missing out. I was missing out on being attached to my baby at all times. I wouldn’t always have this opportunity.
I consulted a local babywearing expert. She said my problem lay in the brand of carrier that I was using and that I needed to switch right away. One hundred dollars later, I did just that. I watched all the YouTube tutorials, too — the videos couldn’t have been clearer. They showed me exactly how to babywear properly.
I made myself a promise to be dedicated this time.
Soon after that, my apartment building’s elevator stopped working, but I had to go pick up my daughter at school. There was no way I could walk down all those flights of stairs with a baby in a stroller.
I had the perfect opportunity — I was going to get to break in the carrier! I strapped him in and walked down the stairs. I got mid-block and started crying. These weren’t tears of joy; I was physically uncomfortable and tired.
I called my husband who happened to be in the area. He was able to get out of work early and pick up our daughter.
I was saved. That’s when I started crying tears of joy.
I walked back to my apartment, unstrapped my baby, and put the carrier in the closet. That was the last time I would use it.
Every once in a while, feel a twinge of emotion at the sight of a babywearing mom. Since I will not be having any more children, I would never know the experience. But I’m confident in my decision to stop. It was just not for me. And you know what? That is perfectly fine.
When I took my babies out for walks or errands, I enjoyed pushing them in the stroller. In fact, I found it very relaxing. I liked the freedom it gave me. I liked the break. It was also the best of both of worlds; I could continue to interact with them while giving myself a rest from having them physically attached to me. Taking the kids for walks remains one of my favorite memories. I looked forward to them. I also held both my children a lot and always felt that I got ample bonding time.
It also became a good example of a mantra that I have learned to live with: “We make plans, and God laughs.”
I think, regarding parenthood, that could not be truer, and, for me, it continues to be proven each day.
When I was struggling with babywearing, I wasn’t giving myself enough credit. Parenthood is very hard. It is very draining. In order to ease a lot of the stress, sometimes it is necessary to let a lot of our toxic thoughts go.
All moms make different choices. I thought about it this way: Would I judge a friend for doing something different than me? Especially if her child was happy and safe? The answer was no.
This was a key component in fighting my battle with postpartum anxiety. I may not always make the “popular” decisions, but I do know that everything I do is in the best interest of my children, and that’s all that matters. For me, that is more than enough and always will be.