Babywearing and Limitations

I first started babywearing within a week of my first child’s birth. We started with k’tan, grew into the ergo, and then fell down the rabbit hole of wrapping, rings slings, and Mei Tais (oh my!). Expecting our second, I grew excited about wrapping another baby. Fortunately, while pregnant I was able to keep wearing my toddler while I built up a newborn stash.

And then she engaged badly in my hip. Any turn of her skull sent me to the floor in agony and I was unable to straighten my right hip.

And then I gave birth – which was wonderful and challenging like nothing else – and the pain didn’t go away. It only got worse.

For the first few weeks post partum, I could barely walk without a severe limp and a lot of pain. Rolling over in bed was excruciating. My pelvic joint was severely out of alignment both in the front (at the pubis) and the back (the SI joint), not to mention some soft tissue damage. Boy, oh boy, will I have “if you know what I sacrificed for you…” material for her when she becomes a teenager.

Thanks to several weeks of physical therapy I’m now mainly pain-free, though I’m limited in what and who I can wear. No soft structured carriers- redistributing the weight to my pelvis is a bad idea. Mei tais are also uncomfortable. Wrapping is fine, but only symmetrical carries, no hip carries. No wearing my crazy, adorable toddler, small infants only.

On the one hand, I still get to wrap my new baby and we are both healthy and comfortable. On the other hand, it’s been very hard adjusting to not being able to use my favorite SSC, not being able to wear my older kiddo, and having to embrace (gasp) the stroller. Heck, having to buy a double stroller in the first place – wearing newbie in the SSC and pushing Kaibeast in the stroller was my post-partum work out plan… not so much anymore. My tandem dreams? Done.

First world problems? Absolutely. First world, niche parenting method, babywearing problems? Check, and check.

However, this has also been a big wake-up call for me about respecting limits and limitations in babywearing in particular, and life in general. For me, my primary limitations are related to my physical ability to wear my children but the idea of limits and limitations encompass so much more. Maybe your limitation is that you work hours that don’t coordinate with your children’s schedule and don’t get as much time to babywear. Maybe it’s that your toddler, infant, newborn is on a wearing strike. Maybe they hate being worn or are still adjusting to being worn. Maybe you are struggling with t-rex arms and feel like you’re never going to manage to wrangle a baby and meters of fabric/all the buckles/those stupid rings that keep ending up in the middle of your chest. Maybe your wearing is limited by your, or your child’s, body. Maybe it’s limited by your budget. Maybe you always wanted to wrap, and you have a gorgeous stash of wraps, but really, if you’re honest, it’s the $30  mei tai that really gets the love while your wovens sit, artfully folded, in a box. Maybe babywearing is something you always wanted to do but just isn’t the right fit for your family. Maybe your whole family actually prefers the stroller – and that’s totally fine!

I just want to say that we all face limits in babywearing. Some are physical, some are psychological, some are our own, and some are our children’s – and it’s ok. Babywearing is a tool. If the tool fits the situation – great. But if it doesn’t, that’s ok too. It’s also a process that changes as we go along. What works today might not work tomorrow because we are human and our conditions change. Limits can be frustrating, but they can also open new and unexpected doors. I can’t wear my SSC, which means I’m become a wrap  and ring sling ninja. I can’t wear my toddler, so my partner gets more toddler-wearing action, and wraps make damn good toddler tents.

PS A final word to the post-partum mamas – be kind to your body, it’s been through a lot. You may not be ready to babywear right away. Don’t worry, you have many, many years of wearing to come. Don’t rush it, you only get to hold a newborn for so long. More importantly, listen to your body. If it starts objecting, tweaking, twinging, aching, or hurting, put the sling down. You’ll pick it up again soon, but let your body – your bones, muscles, ligaments, and brain – heal.

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