How to Wear a Baby (and why)


When I was 25, I had one baby, and he made me giggle so much, and I made him organic baby food while he sneaked snacks from the doggie bowl. We were having conversations before he turned one. He slept through the night very early, and I was a proud babywising mama. I scheduled feeding, playing, and sleeping because I thought it led to my freedom and his, too. My world-wise baby would self soothe. He would break away when the time is right, not be spoiled – get it for himself.

Now he’s almost seven, his lanky legs, the soles of his feet always dirt black. His grown-up teeth are huge, and he smiles like crazy, like a happy boy. And I have few regrets.

But once I traveled to Tennessee, way down the dirt road with my baby, and in the middle of the night in the strange dark of my aunt’s house surrounded by lonely woods, we slept together in the same room, he in his pack-n-play and I in my bed. He woke, and of course so did I, and he said, “Mama?”

And I remember it so clearly. The sweet, quiet request, just that he know I’m there.

He didn’t cry. He didn’t raise his voice. He only said, “Mama? Are you there?”

And I was there. I was right there, feet away, my eyes wide open in the dark, and I held tight my covers, and I followed my rule, my way to control. I was silent. And he kept asking until he gave up and went back to sleep.

I hate that I did that and can hardly write it. I want to take his sweet face, that same one born to me first, same cheeks, same soft gray eyes. I want to take his face in my hands now and tell him I’m sorry for not wrapping him next to me and letting him know that I was right there. When he’s 17, when he’s 34, I want him to know (and grace will tell him so) that I am right here.

I am not the whole answer to my babies, but I know I’m part of God-metaphor. I know that we all can be.

I hold them now, all as much as I can while the time is mine, while the metaphor belongs to me.

So this is how I wear my Baby Titus:

#1 Make it a cute baby.

#2 Make it a cute, enjoyable sling. That is also comfy. Watch videos that tell you how to really do it. I have a pocket sling, a Moby wrap, and a silk ring sling. The Moby is super comfy but hot as fire. The ring sling is perfection in function, but it hurts my shoulder a bit after a while.

#2(a) Find matching earrings. #2(b) Maybe exercise before your baby is born so your shoulder and back aren’t wimpy.

#3 Be strong in it even if the waiter looks discouraged that you brought a baby along. Do it anyway. In Restaurants With candles?

Yes.

Seth and I got to take a date Friday night. We sat in the lounge. There was loud live music. Titus never left his warm, smell good dream cloud. He may have changed the waiter’s mind about babies.

#4 Remember that you are not in control. Wearing a sling for me is about releasing the future and living now, not about holding on too tightly. It’s about enjoying where I am, the phase we’re in, the marathon of breaths, the new one studying the world and teaching me a new way to see. I’m not in control. I’m not in control. I’m not in control.

The other side of the coin here, too, is that sometimes, a mama has to put the baby down. We all feel broken about it. Sometimes the other kids need 500 things at once or you can’t wash the big nasty pot without getting hot water on his little head. Sometimes a baby gets put down and the baby cries, and glory be, the baby is going to be just fine. I promise.

Let’s hold the ones we can and watch the world spin on. The world doesn’t spin around the baby just because the baby gets to be held. Name a soul that doesn’t need in a set of close arms.

And now in closing, somehow this:

 

amberhaines
About me

25 Comments

Ashleigh Baker
Reply September 5, 2011

I love this so. Such beauty and so much truth.

Elizabeth
Reply September 5, 2011

My journey to babywearing is much the same. I'll never regret a second of wearing, cuddling, and loving on my babies. In fact, I'll always wish I did it even more.

Erin
Reply September 5, 2011

I was a babywising mama too. I have some regrets about the way I raised my first baby, about my obsession with sleep and schedules instead of with holding onto the moments and just loving my baby. I'm not really a babywearing mama now, because I have RA and too much of the wearing makes me hurt. But I have definitely become a more gentle mama. Recognizing that sleeping is not the most important thing in the universe. That sometimes loving and building trust is.

joann
Reply September 5, 2011

I'm dying. That is the best way to end this blog post ever! EVER! you gotta know when to hold em....

nic
Reply September 5, 2011

You're such a good mama, and you've been such a good mama. I love you so much!

L.L. Barkat
Reply September 5, 2011

Delicious. :)

Our children are still "wearable" even as they grow, if we find ways to connect, yes?

Sarah@EmergingMummy
Reply September 5, 2011

This line: "I am not the whole answer to my babies, but I know I’m part of God-metaphor." It is exactly what I have felt in my bones right from the start and it has profoundly shaped how I parent and how I see God. Every thing changed when the tinies were here.

Also, for what it's worth, I use an Ergo and it was the most comfy for us all. Even when they are little like Titus Lee (with the insert). My boy, in particular, rode on my back for every supper-making for nearly a year between 1 and 2 years old.

    Megan@SortaCrunchy
    Reply September 5, 2011

    Yes to the Ergo. Titus is probably too little for a back carry, but I started wearing AJ on my back when she was 4 or 5 months old and was still wearing her on my back when she was two. It is an incredible investment and worth every penny.

Megan@SortaCrunchy
Reply September 5, 2011

My heart is made so, so happy by these thoughts. We all have a journey and our paths meet and depart and meet again is so many moments that are fundamentally Same. My journey out of babywising and into babywearing is your story (only it happened all with my first child, the one God sent me to teach me to trust Him), and it is all such truth.

    Christy
    Reply September 6, 2011

    I love this journey! My wee-one is 2 months today and we are learning our balance between babywearing and babywising :) Still trying to figure it all out!

    The most powerful part of this post, to me, is what is said above "...the one God sent me to teach me to trust Him". That's what my little miss is to me :) We have such a faithful father. So powerful.

    Thank you so much for sharing this part of your life with me :)

Mindy
Reply September 5, 2011

I love your blog! I remember when you were pregnant with Isaac and you and Seth took me to that Mexican restaurant (I can't remember what it was called, but it was yummy) and you supported my Cru internship. You told me that since being pregnant you had never felt more feminine and beautiful. I kinda thought you might be a bit crazy!:) But, you were so right then and this post was so refreshing. I'm glad a had a heart change a few months in with my boy baby...started out thinking that book had all the answers and my hope was in a full night of sleep. Then I realized how fast he was going to grow up...Your words are like a fountain of life.

sara @ it's good to be queen
Reply September 5, 2011

oh sigh....my heart beats here. i've been a proud baby-wisin mama and i too ache over those lost moments. moments to just be in the moment. and enjoy my baby while he was still a baby. and not be so rushed for the next, "easier" phase. with each new bundle placed in my arms, i'm learning. learning to chill the heck out. learning to just exist and enjoy and soak in their sweet baby self. thank you for this. i love your words lately.

Lindsey
Reply September 5, 2011

I love this :)
And yes, babywearin' is simply the best. How does it get sweeter with each child?

kendal
Reply September 5, 2011

hold them. yeah.

emily wierenga
Reply September 5, 2011

oh amber. this made me catch my breath.

Joy
Reply September 5, 2011

love. ditto. i chilled way the heck out with my #2 and felt so much more at peace. my heart knows the trend will continue.

absolutely love this. you make beautiful children. and beautiful thoughts.

Beth
Reply September 5, 2011

After 14 years since my firsts, the two bundled in one womb that broke us into parenting, I think this is the post every mama should read. Time rushes those tiny little souls along, and we just blow past the well intentioned comments about how quickly they grow up...until we're on the other side. Hold them now. Yes! Yes! Yes! (And sometimes, you just have to start all over, even in your forties, just to remember how the young mamas feel.)

    Beth
    Reply September 5, 2011

    Oh, and the truth behind releasing the future and living now is profound, sister, and touches that soft spot where I am living right now.

Adventures In Babywearing
Reply September 5, 2011

Oh how I love this. I was the same way with 1 and 2. Many regrets. I love who they are and am happy I learned eventually.

Steph

Danelle
Reply September 6, 2011

I know you don't want to bring guilt to any momma. . butIknow how you feel about wanting to do it all "by the book" and as they grow (my older son is 9, younger almost 8) you want to go back and scoop up the moments you left them waiting for you, not in your arms. . . . yes, yes, yes.
And I love what you said about how moms are part of the Godmetaphor for children. Never thought of it in exactly those words. . but how precise and spot on you are Amber.
Blessed by this post today.
Snuggling the boys all I can as soon as they wake up! :)

Danelle
Reply September 6, 2011

Younger son is almost 8. Not a yellow smiley with ridiculous black sunglasses on. Althought sometimes he is that too. :)

Arianne
Reply September 6, 2011

Last night as my newly 9 year woke me and asked if he could climb in bed with me, I thought these same thoughts. He was the kind of kid where I couldn't be a babywiser or a babywearer. He stood for neither. Yet last night, he woke with nightmares and couldn't go back and be alone in his bed. He slipped in between me and his daddy and trembled in my arms until we both fell asleep. I prayed over him and tried to give him my sleepy energy. They will always, always need holding sometimes. <3

Jessica
Reply September 6, 2011

I love this. My first is 7 months old tomorrow, and we naturally fell into baby-wearing & co-sleeping. Never planned it, it just fit, and there's been much evidence that this is simply what she needs right now.

The comments I've received about not being a Babywise mama are quite unnerving. I'm actually a trauma therapist, specializing in treating attachment wounds, amongst other traumas. There is a lot of research and evidence on the importance of loving all over your children, right now. There is much, much evidence against Babywise. I've spent time undoing some babywise damage with some of my clients. I do know families it has worked for, and if your children are wired to work that way and you are attuned to them, great. But I would strongly caution anyone about being dogmatic in the least about it, for many reasons.

And even though I know much of the research and many of the reasons to stay away from Babywise, I still feel the need to keep quiet about our sleeping arrangements. Because we live in a culture of control & of teaching our kids independence before they're ready.

That being said, I highly recommend the books, "Why love matters: How affection shapes a baby's brain" (Gerhardt), and "Parenting from the inside out" (Siegel), for parents like myself, who sometimes need that reassurance that we're doing the right thing, despite the comments from those around us.

Love the words about us being part of the God metaphor. I will hold that in my heart as I love on my sweet daughter.

amelia
Reply September 7, 2011

just wanted to say how encouraging this was even for this adoptive momma! i get a little overwhelmed about the "cacooning" phase that they suggest...but honestly, after reading this, 4-12 weeks of camping out at home doesn't seem quite so long :)
thank you

Samantha
Reply September 15, 2011

Being a mother is already a bliss. The hardest part would be being always there when they're growing up.

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