You may have noticed I just added a babywearing page under motherhood here on the site. Babywearing is a huge part of who I am as a parent. In October we wrapped up (no pun intended) International Babywearing Week 2015. This year’s theme was Embrace Your World.
an act of holding someone closely in one's arms
an act of accepting or supporting something willingly or enthusiastically
Babywearing allows me to embrace motherhood.
Embrace my mommy needs.
Babywearing has many beautiful aspects to it- allowing you to bond with your baby, helps to combat PPD, skin to skin care has many benefits, so on and so on…..but are there bad sides to babywearing? Babywearing is a hobby for many- do hobbies have bad sides?
A friend said to me- “I babywear but you have really made the commitment to babywear.” I thought about this and find it to be true. One of the aspects of babywearing I am starting to discover and enjoy is the depth that there is in babywearing. As I mentioned on my page- I believe you are a babywearer if you wear an old school Bjorn for a week or if you are deep into handwovens and have been wrapping for years- or anywhere in between! Just like any hobby we all need a gateway and we all need to grow and develop (if we so choose). Babywearing can be a journey just as anything else in life can be.
Looking back though old photos as I made the page on my site I thought about my babywearing journey and how it has changed in the last 15 months.
I’m not even sure exactly how my babywearing journey got started- it was just something that went into my crunchy, attachment parenting philosophy. Justina over at Knot to Nest probably got the ball rolling as her little man is 3 months older than mine. My doula and Bradley Method instructor also spoke of babywearing. I still registered and purchased a stroller as part of a travel system- because that is what you were supposed to do.(?) When little dude got here at his whopping 10 pounds 10 ounces I took him out wrapped in the Moby at just 7 days old. We both loved it- he was close and sleeping and I got to eat tacos. A week or so later while my parents were visiting their new grandson we went out and he just kept falling down- I thought I was doing it all wrong. How did Justina wear her son for so long in her Moby? What they don't tell you is that a stretchy wrap (Moby) is only good until about 15 pounds or so- then theyre too heavy and it gets stretched out easier. (you can still use it, just takes more practice and tightening)
Thankfully as part of my pregnancy prep I had checked out all sorts of groups and organizations- trying to find my tribe of resources. I quickly went to my local Babywearing International group meeting- made a DIY ring sling (which later was redone because it wasn't made properly but it did the job). I then found another group and that is where my babywearing really took off. The ladies at Quantico Area Babywearers are who I can really credit with my passion for wearing. From Ashley who hosted a ring sling night and basically sewed mine for me while little dude nursed, to Sarah who helped with my first back carry, to Gwen and Hope who were always kind faces and always said hello, and to Nora and Nicole who had little ones in similar age to mine.
I started down the babywearing rabbit hole and I haven’t looked back since. I didn't think you needed more than a couple wraps- why did people have 40 odd wraps in their stash shots? Well why do you have more than 3 pairs of shoes? They are all different and it is fun to collect and find what you like!
By October 2014 I had 2 ring slings, 2 stretchy wraps (no longer in use), a mei tai, and 2 woven wraps (base size and shorty). I was attending some wrapping meetings and learning how to use my wraps. The ring sling was working well for nursing (someone loved to nurse all. the. time.) I was close to back wrapping as well- I could in the mei tai but not quite in the woven. I then started into the world of babywearing on Facebook- and discovered a company call Tekhni. I was drawn to their geometric designs, price point and use of recycled materials. I was won over when an admin from the chatter/buy sell trade (bst) page messaged me about a fraudulent seller. The concern that the admin showed was so touching- not just a company that wanted my money- but a community that looked out for each other. I drank the Tekhni kool-aid and I liked it. The wraps served me well- I didn't see a need to look at other companies or buy other wraps- sure I could try them but why explore when I had something I liked? Then my wrap journey took a little turn.
A “toddler worthy wrap” is what most people are looking for when they are seeking a wrap to support their 25 pound plus child. I was looking for that for my 10 month old. I like cush and support and Tekhni offered that to me. I loved my Tekhni and told everyone about them. In a series of events that I don't know all the details of the company that I once held highly fell from good graces. In a fit of confusion, hurt, miscommunication and a shift in personnel, Tekhni changed. I stayed the course through the transition but you could tell the vibe wasn't the same. Not only did the vibe on the Tekhni fans change but the wraps being released didn't fit my need for toddler worthy and didn't appeal to me aesthetically.
I am not the kind of person to jump on a fandom bandwagon. I try for the most part not to do ‘die hard’ anything. When I started into the world of Tekhni there was a solid fan base, when I started to leave the fan base had entered fandom. A great example of this is Tula. Tula is cult like in the SSC world. When someone asks on a babywearing support page- “what kind of carrier should I get?” the answer is “you NEED a Tula!” by 100 people. Do you need a Tula? No. Are they good carriers? For some people, yes. Do they have a ridiculous market value due to their popularity? Yes, disgustingly so. Tula even has a TITW (Tula in the Wild) call that you ‘should’ loudly shout at other babywearers. No thank you. No fandom here.
In three months I went from a completely Tekhni stash to a non Tekhni, more diverse stash. In those months I learned about cultural appropriation and its reach to the babywearing community. I could explain what cultural appropriation is but these articles do it much more eloquently. Cultural appropriation didn't even register on my radar until a few months ago. I've always been raised to honor other cultures but I never fully understood exchange vs appropriation. There is no fine line on what is exchange and what is appropriation- not everything is obvious (some things very much so are) I know I've put more thought into things now- not always as second nature but I’m human and trying and educating myself. As a straight, white, middle/upper class female I am a person of privilege. I will never fully understand cultural appropriation because I will never be in a minority group that is appropriated by a group of power.
"When someone’s behavior is labeled culturally appropriative, it’s usually not about that specific person being horrible and evil.
It’s about a centuries’ old pattern of taking, stealing, exploiting, and misunderstanding the history and symbols that are meaningful to people of marginalized cultures.
The intentions of the inadvertent appropriator are irrelevant in this context.
Therefore, what this article is asking you to do is educate yourself, listen, and be open to reexamining the symbols you use without thinking, the cultures you engage with without understanding, and the historical and social climate we all need to be seeing." Source
Thanks to my recent adventure along my babywearing journey I have started thinking more about privilege and my role as a consumer. I am happy with my current stash- not only with the wraps and their wrapping qualities but also the companies that I have supported by wearing these wraps. I look to support companies that are not CA, have diverse models and ethical business and sourcing practices. I also look to support smaller companies made in the USA and that are military friendly.
Conscientious babywearing is my new goal. Am I stash-ified? I don't think that exists ;) I am on the hunt for a forest green wrap and there are two releases I am waiting for (needing to save the funds for) and one company I am excited about and recently got on a tester list- but for now I love the wraps I have.