In which we wear our babies

Long before I read any books or articles about baby wearing,
when all I had was a very cheap and likely uncomfortable Snugli for Anne
(there must be a special grace for the eldest child as we first-time-mamas figure it out)
I instinctively knew that the happiest place
for my wee baby
was with me.

So that’s what we did.

She lived in the sling,
perched on my right hip as
I vacuumed and picked up,
stood up to sing in church,
debated between types of apples at the market,
wandered the bookstore,
talked on the phone.

When she was teething
or miserable
and it was snowstorming outside,
I put her in the sling and
got on a treadmill and just
walked for an hour
until she was asleep
and happy.

Annie at 11 months old.

Later on, I learned about
how baby wearing
makes breastfeeding easier
promotes security
and bonding,
and experienced how it made life easier for me.
It was so practical and easy
and convenient
to have my hands free while
still satisfying her need
(who am I kidding? Mine, too)
to be close to my heart.

Once I knew that
(and I had a good comfy carrier)
and Joseph came along,
he lived on me

and my husband

and even my mother.

But it was never about just
being able to get things done
or leaving the bulky stroller behind
or solving the problem of the screaming baby at your feet
right when you’re trying to make supper
or being “a good mother”
or anything really
but instinct.

It’s just this: my instinct said “Pick them up”
and, like most mothers,
I’ve learned to listen to that Voice.

Love felt like the heft of the tinies
on my back and my hips,
about my biological need to hold
and theirs, to be held.
It felt like kissing their heads as
we walked around the Fair.
And patting their bums absently, always swaying,
and keeping them happy,
about knowing that
the only place they really wanted to be
from the time they were brand new freshies
to even now, at busy-rough-and-tumble two years old
was close to someone who loved them.

Linked up at Adventures in Babywearing’s Call to Action for International Babywearing Week.

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  • Stephanie

    This is exactly how I feel about babywearing! I just knew I wanted my babies near me all of the time. They needed the closeness (and so did I).

    • Sarah Bessey

      I knew you’d get it! After all, you introduced me to the wonder that is Ergo! (thank you!)

  • Tabitha Schultz

    I got a bit of teasing and Im sure whispers about it from my friends when I wore Addie all the time, but it made both of us happy. A little boy asked me why I was pretending to still be pregnant [a baby in a wrap can create a nice belly!] and I told him that it was because neither of us were ready to be apart yet – and he was happy with that. I’ve missed wearing my 1 year old since being preg – I just don’t have the strength to do it now, but she’s happy in the pram when we need it now so its a blessing. I can’t wait to be wearing this new one.

    • Sarah Bessey

      That’s a great answer, Tabitha! I might steal that for this next one…”not ready to be apart yet” (Um, ever? Ha!)

      • Tabitha Schultz

        Well some days now that she’s a toddler I do want to not see her very much! But only for an hour or two and then I feel differently again, but most of the time yep. I’m so glad I get to spend my days with her :)

  • Christine Ivy

    Hey I have a question. I’m not a mom yet but my friend will be come Christmas and she really wants a sling. Can you recommend one? I like this one but what do I know? (and the seller is a bit biased ;))

    • Sarah Bessey

      Hey Roren: Thanks for stopping by. I have one like this and I really liked it. I think a ring sling (one that has the double rings so it can be adjusted/tightened/loosened) might be best for brand new babies so it can be adjusted. But this one looks very nice and I know I used one that was similarly with Joe until he got too big for it.

  • Saramccord

    Sigh. I really, really, really wish I had this knowledge when Cale was a baby. It would have saved us so much heartache.

    • Sarah Bessey

      I love you and I love that kid. Don’t worry – next time! (Which would be really fun if we could do it together…hint, hint….)

  • Jill @ Clearest Glimpse

    Okay, I don’t often want another little baby, but reading this makes me want to start over again just one more time simply to wear my baby. :) Thankfully mine still want lots of cuddles, so I’ll just enjoy that.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Ha! I don’t know whether to apologise or take credit if you have another! :-)

  • Christina Kannenberg

    My little one was born just 5.5 weeks ago, and we thankfully inherited an Ergo carrier with infant insert from my sister who got it from my other sister who lives in your neck of the woods. We just started to try using it about 10 days after Andreas was born. The morning my husband went back to work (2 weeks after the birth) I tried to put Andreas down on his play blanket or in the little bouncy chair I got from a friend, as this is what I thought One Did With Babies. That’s mostly what I had seen, so the mom could continue with housework or what have you. But I soon realized he would have none of it! My sweet little infant is happiest in our arms and the Ergo is a good compromise when it is afternoon one just does have to do those dishes that have piled up. When Andreas started having long/frequent fussy periods due to tummy aches, we started wearing him as much as possible. We love having Andreas close to us, calm, quiet and happy snuggling up to our chests. Baby carriers and wraps are quite common here in Germany, though I did feel some looks when I was shoe shopping with his tiny self in it at just 2 weeks old.

    • Sarah Bessey

      What a beautiful story, Christina! And you are blessed with a good instinct – it takes most of us a bit longer to figure it all out. Baby wearing is very common in this part of Canada as well which is nice. Especially when the babies are brand new, everyone has them in a sling close to their heart.

  • Balancebeyondborders

    I came across this really cute boardbook at the library and my kids LOVE it. Mommy carry me please. By: Jane Cabrera. In it a variety of baby animals are carried by their Momma’s wrapping up with a human baby and Momma.

    I carry my kiddos all the time. Though my kiddos are very solid so I couldn’t survive without my Ergo. I bought it in early 2008 and hope it lasts at least another year for my daughter who is now 10 months.

    • Sarah Bessey

      Oooo…that sounds fantastic! I have never heard of the baby wearing books. I’ll be getting that at the library for sure! Thank you.

      My Ergo is second hand and it’s still going strong (and that’s even after Joe who is not a delicate child. Ha!)

  • SarahR

    Your pictures are breathtakingly beautiful! I wish I had “worn” my baby! He refused to be put down, and so I just held him in my arms for the first 6 months of his life (I’m not exaggerating!) It would have been nice to have the help of a baby sling. If there is a Baby #2, I will definitely be wearing him or her!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Joe was just like that! I couldn’t put him down. As long as he was being held, he was happiest baby ever. Even now, when he’s sick, he needs to be held. It made life so much easier!

  • mamadweeb

    Beautiful post! It is exactly how I feel too! I never thought of using a treadmill to put a baby to sleep, that is a wonderful idea. I loved how convenient it made grocery shopping for me. Baby was always happy in the Moby!

    • Sarah Bessey

      I admit – I used the treadmill often when the babies were teething. And grocery shopping! Yes! So happy. Even now, I put Joe in the Ergo on my back when he’s all Mr. Grabby-Hands.

  • Deborah L

    Oh man. I want another one. I loved wearing my wee babes.

    • Sarah Bessey

      There is nothing like it, is there? I confess it’s one part I’m really looking forward to with this next one.

  • Stephanie Precourt

    Yes, it just feels “right”. I Know. :)


  • Carrington

    Oh, I loved this post SO much. I love your story, and so agree. I must share it!

    • Sarah Bessey

      Thanks! I appreciate that.

  • Louise Bates

    Quite honestly, I never found that I could do much by way of housework while wearing the littles, but I think that may have been due to my carriers. I still loved being able to wear them, and most days I found that while they were napping was plenty of time to get the needed chores done! This was a beautiful post; thank you so much for sharing it with us.

    • Sarah Bessey

      I found the Ergo in the back position being the best for getting stuff done around the house, especially cooking dinner. For some reason, witching hour is always right at supper time and it was the only way that the babies were happy and I could make a meal.