See the mom in this photo? She’s been a mom for exactly one year. You see a happy smile, bright eyes, and a one-year old in a baby carrier.
She is me.
I am the mother in this photo. But… there is so much more you don’t see. Let me show you.
Like most mothers, I dreamed only of snuggling my baby close to me when he arrived – that mysterious child who rode underneath my heart for nine months – I wanted him to hear my heartbeat as long as possible.
However, struggles with breastfeeding, as well as severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine), made this impossible.
Tears, as I tried to hold my baby close, only to recoil in pain caused by months of struggles with breastfeeding.
Discouragement, as I tossed aside yet another carrier style because within minutes my back and shoulders were in searing pain. You see, most carriers I tried (I even made one myself), either put the baby’s weight on my shoulders, or asymmetrically across my body.
Since my spine is curved badly, one shoulder is slightly higher than the other, meaning weight does not rest evenly between my shoulders and back. Rendering every carrier style and position I tried next to impossible to maintain.
I had given up the idea of babywearing, when someone suggested I try the Ergobaby carrier. Of course, I was skeptical, but I gave it a shot.
I remember settling the lightweight Ergobaby Performance Carrier on my shoulders in my living room one afternoon. Then gingerly lowering my nearly twenty-pound, almost-one-year-old son into the cocoon of its embrace. Awkwardly (at first – I’m now a pro), I snapped the latches, and let his weight settle in.
I felt… comfortable. My baby’s weight settled evenly around my hips. Reminding me of my pregnant belly in a way. My son’s head fell against my chest lightly (even though by now I was healed, it could still make me flinch!). My shoulders felt a minimum of pressure in the straps. I realized the comfort came from carrying my baby with my core body strength, versus my shoulders, which are far weaker.
An afternoon of comfortable babywearing (at long last!) led me to challenge myself: we were going to New York City shortly to celebrate our baby’s first birthday. Why should we bother with a bulky stroller on the subway and in taxis? No – I decided to use the Ergo exclusively. So for two days, I carried him from upper to lower Manhattan, and everywhere inbetween.
Surely, in two days, I would feel discomfort (and I did in legs not used to walking so far!). But never in my back and shoulders did I feel those burning twinges of pain. It was comfort all the way.
So I cherish this photo – both for what you can see, and what you can’t see. You don’t see the year of tears and frustration at not being able to babywear comfortably.
You don’t see my newborn in my lap, far from my heart, because I could not bear the pain of raising him to my chest again.
You don’t see me handing him unwillingly to my husband or family, because I was too tired to hold him any longer, and didn’t have the support of a baby carrier.
If you could see those things, you’d see why this photo is so special to me. It shows me – happy mother – baby nestled sleepily under my chin right where he belonged the whole time.