A held baby is a happy baby
Last week was national babywearing week.(And the title, and last line, of this post are nicked from t-shirt slogans for hard-core babywearers!) I'm a bit late, I know, but do forgive me, my little Missis takes up a lot of time. However, because I'm lucky enough to have been introduced to the joys of babywearing when my first baby was four months old, she doesn't take up quite as much time as she could.
You see, like Boy did, Missis wakes up as soon as you lay her sleeping body down. With Boy, we tried everything, from hot water bottles in the cot to warm his mattress up before we laid him in, to reading "The Hobbit" in its entirety into the wee hours. But now we have the know how with Missis, so we just let her sleep in the sling (or in our bed with us) where she is next to the comforting sounds, smells and warmth that were familiar to her in the womb.
Society tries to make us think otherwise, but babies are not supposed to be left alone. Not that long ago, if mothers had left their babies so they could cook over the fire or wash clothes in the river, her baby would have been gobbled up by wolves/a bear/a tiger....I could go on. Baby's common subconscious remembers this useful evolutionary tool, and screams like a banshee every time you put her down. But that's what she's SUPPOSED to do. If any other animal found itself waking up in a silent, dark place alone, don't you think it would attempt to find it's mother by any means necessary, including crying out?
We are essentially primates. Ever wondered why babies are born with that super-death grip that surprises you so much when they grab your finger? It's so they can cling on to your fur to be carried along with you. Yes, just the those orangutans you saw in the zoo. Since we don't have much fur anymore, the intelligent human being finds other ways to keep baby close. Either they develop major skills in one-handed chore-doing, develop a huge left-bicep, and pain all down the left side of their back, or they simply pop baby in a sling, and get on with life.
So next time some smug uber mummy goes on about her "good" baby that she "hardly knows she has", remember that your baby is the truly clever one, and hers wouldn't have gotten very far a few years ago.
Since Missis was born, she has been "slung" a lot. Now Boy is bigger, he really only rides in the sling outside the house, as a pram-substitute. But with Missis, I'm either feeding her, sleeping next to her, or carrying her in a sling. (Or someone else is). As I recover from the birth, I'm able to do a few tasks round the house, or sit down to a meal with the family, hands free. I don't need to carry those god-awful car seats around, or rush through the shopping with an unsettled baby.
I carried her in the hospital (the midwives and new mums crowded round). I carry her all over the house and garden (Boy stops me to peep inside the sling and kiss the sleeping baby). I carry her round tescos (old ladies ask if I've made the sling myself) (I haven't). I carry her during my course, training to be a breastfeeding helper (babes in arms most welcome in the training room). I carry her to the corner shop. My favourite so far, what we dreamed of when I was pregnant, was me carrying Missis, and HID carrying Boy, on a family trip out. We took them to see the Blackpool Illuminations! Missis slept on me the whole time, snuggled up against the sea breeze in her sling. Boy stayed up til 11pm! We rode a tram and ate ice cream. What a treat. It would not have been so easy and enjoyable had we used prams (or had to spend a fortune on a newborn/toddler double pram!). The children were warm, we were close enough to talk and listen to one another, and no one was unsettled, it was easy to get on the tram, Boy was high enough to see everything and talk to everyone. HID and I walked along holding hands. Blissful.
I even made an attempt yesterday at breastfeeding in the sling. It's going to take a bit more practice to get it right, but HID is back at work next week, and, well, breastfeeding on demand with a toddler around just isn't going to work any other way. I've got a week to perfect it.
Many of my pro-bottle feeding family and friends dismiss breastfeeding as "very tying for you". Hopefully this will not be the case once I get going with sling feeding. And right now, I really don't mind being tied up feeding. It's forcing me to rest properly, and I've an iron-clad excuse for not doing housework! Others have said how selfish breastfeeding can be, taking away HID's opportunity to bond. But while we have the sling, I think Daddy is bonding just fine by snuggling his little princess to his chest in his sling. He's even been enthused enough to learn a new, more complex tie. After all, real men wear babies.