During the time of my pregnancy, I was looking forward to going for walks with a stroller more than anything else, as well as my husband indeed. We both imagined our wonderful baby sleeping in a stroller while we cruised the streets of Ostrava, smiling happily at the little miracle bundled up in a swaddle blanket. Frankly, I was not aware of any mothers carrying their babies; of course – I knew that some people carry infants in wraps, however, I did not know anything about that and I did not plan to become a fulltime wearer at all. We prepared a beautiful nursery, with a beautiful cot; a baby-basket for our newborn to be near me at the beginning. Sleeping with the baby in bed – together? No waaaayyy! Carrying my baby? Oh, my pooor back! Attachment parenting? What?
However, Emilka is a bit stubborn. In fact, she was stubborn even before she was actually born – she decided she could not come to our world during an ordinary day; on the contrary, she waited for more than a week for the right date – the first of May (by that time, her mother reached the size of an average airship). Besides being stubborn, Emilka was born with very strong lungs as well; she ˈforcedˈ herself into my bed already during the first or second night at the maternity hospital – hadnˈt I taken her there, the walls of the building would probably collapse due to the intensity of noise she was able to produce. When we arrived home, Emilka was everything but a happy daylong sleeping newborn. Did she sleep during the day at all? In fact, I do not remember that. At the beginning, I was able to dangle her to sleep in the stroller, but when she woke up, she started to scream again. Thus began the cycle of nursing, dangling, endless drowsing and carrying in arms. Once we tried to put her down into her cot / her baby basket / on the floor / wherever, she began to cry – it was really heartbreaking … I decided very quickly that there is no point in this routine; while listening to wise advice of my family (“Youˈll ruin your back.” / “Youˈll ruin her back.” / “Youˈll become her slave”, etc.), I bought our first wrap. It was an elastic wrap, brand Pentelka, for 500 CZK. At that time I did not understand some people can spend 1000 CZK or more on a piece of cloth. Oh, how naive I was …
At the age of two weeks, Emilka suddenly turned into the happiest baby in the world – thanks to the wrap, a gymnastic ball and white noise, we learned to cope with otherwise very demanding evenings full of tears (yeah, this is a real understatement – it will be more precise to write ˈevenings full of hysterical screamˈ). The combo of wrap + gymnastic ball + white noise is still a part or our everyday routine (Emilka is 10 months old at the time this article is being written).
The time of lying-in finished and one would say that the worst ended with it. However, Emilka just did not accept the stroller at all – she wanted to get out of it more than anything else. Every loading, every departure from home, every walk – actions quite normal for an ordinary mum – were nerve-recking for me. The whole neighbourhood knew with certainty that we just left our flat or that we just came back. What the hell was I supposed to do? I thought I could not use the wrap for the whole day, otherwise I would really ruin my or her back. As a true health professional, I started to search the Internet looking for scientific studies on the topic of babywearing and its impact on hip and spine development (surpise – there are no relevant ones to find!). I consulted my colleagues – neurologists, pediatricians, orthopedists – and, naturally, they gave me ambivalent answers. However, with the last day of lying-in a clear decision was made – the stroller is a forbidden place. A quite painful, yet quick, catharsis followed – I had to reconfigure my evidence-based functioning brain, shaped by years of studies and work experience. I had to give up on science and follow my maternal instincts, which told me it is better to have a happy carried baby than a liitle bundle of nerves lying in the stroller and screaming all day long.
One beautiful day in June, I just decided to leave the stroller at home (where it still stays) and we went for a walk – just Emilka, myself and the wrap. Emilka slept for the whole time! At that moment, supreme happiness took possession of my whole being. I felt joyful and relieved, and for the first time during Emilkaˈs short life, I was a happy mum – I identified with my new role and started to enjoy it. Thanks to the wrap.
Thanks to the wrap (oh, thank you, our ugly stretched out Pentelka!), I got out among people finally – more specifically, among the community of baby-wearing moms in Ostrava (as you probably guess, Linda was one of them), for whom it was not weird that I sleep together with my baby, that I nurse my baby even at the age of 10 months (I am going to nurse her as long as she wants – even at the time she will attend the nursery school), that I do not let her cry, and mainly – that I am going to carry her until the time she says stop. Simply – when sheˈs ripe, sheˈll cut loose.
PS – The story about our first ˈrealˈ woven wrap (turquoise Storchenwiege that still serves us well) and about my stack of wraps higher than Mount Everest will follow 🙂