I get asked quite a lot,
“How did you get into all THIS?!”
Slings and stuff. I don’t have a particularly profound answer, but here is our story..
Big Brother was born in June 2014. We had a bit of a tricky start as he was poorly when he was born, and spent his first week in special care being tube fed and sleeping in an incubator. When we finally got him home (that week felt like years!) we quickly realised that our gorgeous baby boy didn’t do the things that all the books we’d read said that he should. He didn’t lie happily in his Moses basket, cooing to himself… He didn’t feed neatly every four hours, or spend the suggested ten minutes on each breast, before pulling off, “drowsy but awake,” for us to lie him down to fall asleep independently! He wanted us. More than that. He NEEDED us. He wanted to feed constantly, be in our arms (or anyone’s arms, actually, he was at least happy to be passed round a room!), sleep with us, cuddle us… and he did NOT want us to put him down. We frantically researched safe bedsharing at 2am, tried apps to monitor feeds and try and find a pattern (the books said there would be one!) and constantly wondered what we were doing wrong. It was exhausting.
Until we decided to stop.
Stop wondering, stop worrying, stop timing feeds and stop trying to get him in his own cot, and accept that this was our baby, this was who he was, and maybe that was ok. We learned about the fourth trimester, I read books about sleep and breastfeeding and biological norms, and we began to use a sling. Not as much as we probably should have – I spent a lot of time pushing an empty pram around Leigh with a baby in my arms! But that simple stretchy wrap did begin to make life a little bit easier.
When Big Brother was four months old, we moved to Norway. I discovered for the first time the absolute necessity of having a sling when travelling! And when I got to Oslo, I found a city full of parents from all around the world using slings with their babies. Not all the time, and not all for the same reasons. But my eyes were opened to the possibility of using this tool to help me in my transition into our new Scandi life. I made some wonderful friends who showed me different types of sling – I borrowed my first woven wrap and bought first a buckle carrier and then a ring sling. We went on walks through the forest, visited museums that weren’t buggy-friendly, and I joined a Babywearing ballet class. I felt confident as a first time parent and took pride in the fact that I could comfort my child and keep him safe, close and warm as we entered our first Norwegian winter.
And slings were fun! I enjoyed finding new ways to tie my woven wrap, I loved watching my husband learn to carry our baby on his back, I rejoiced when I discovered I could feed on the go and use the buggy as a shopping trolley.
We travelled A LOT – Big Brother racked up 30 flights before his first birthday; 50 before his 2nd. More than half of those were just the two of us, no daddy to lend a helping hand, and on several occasions our buggy was lost and twice our car seat damaged – I simply couldn’t have managed without a sling.
That was the beginning of our journey. The story continues, but this is where we began. With a baby who needed us, and a desire to get on with our lives and have some adventures.
When I’m speaking to parents or training peer supporters, I talk about the positive effects of carrying often falling into two categories – the lovely cuddles, closeness and bonding, and the practical stuff. Having your hands free. Both of these came into play very early for us. Slings made our parenting journey infinitely easier in every way. Let me help you along your journey too.