Monday, October 8, 2012

IBW 2012 Guest Blog: Gretchen's Story

Our last guest blog comes from Gretchen. She and her son had a special situation as well. Babywearing has helped so many!


Babywearing is not a tradition that was handed down to me, but I hope it will have an impact on my kids in a positive way, and I would cry happy tears to get the privilege of seeing them wear their children one day. Wearing my babies has allowed me to truly bond with my them in ways that I otherwise couldn't.

My first son, Devin, was born at 26 weeks and weighed just 2 lbs., 6oz. I had a very rough pregnancy and he had a very traumatic birth. He went on to spend his first 11 weeks in the NICU. He lived in an isolette, a temperature-controlled environment built to mimic the womb he was so rudely evacuated from. I didn't get to hold him for 3 days after he was born and very rarely after that for the first several weeks. When I did get the chance to hold him, I held him skin to skin. Being up against my chest regulated his temperature, calmed his heart rate and his oxygen saturation always improved.

Unfortunately, I couldn't hold him as often as I knew we both needed. He was very sick for his first few weeks. Slowly, things got better and our major concerns switched to things like the way his head was positioned in the bed and stretching his hips since they were very tight due to an unnatural position and environment he had been in for several weeks. Somehow, I came across the Baby K'tan during my pregnancy and thought it looked cool. By the time I knew my baby would actually survive and get to come home, I knew I would be carrying him as often as I could. I felt so bad that he had laid in that bed so long away from me.

The K'tan was perfect for us for the first few months. He was always in there, sleeping away, getting stronger and cuddling with me, which is what he needed to do for so long. He missed out on 3 whole months of being carried on the inside. There was no way I was going to do anything but carry him now! I believe it was healing for both of us. I needed to be near my baby and he needed to be near his mama. It made the trauma of a scary NICU stay melt away. I felt in control and necessary for the first time.

As he got bigger, I learned about other ways to wear a baby. I bought some cotton gauze and used that to wrap him. I also got a mei tai and a soft-structured carrier. They all served us well during different seasons of his baby/toddlerhood. I carried him until he had no real interest in being worn. It was a good run.

Now, I'm lucky enough to have another little bundle to carry: Devin's baby sister, Fiona.  She was born full term but we really struggled with breastfeeding, which was something extremely important to me.  We struggled for many weeks before I decided it would be best for all involved if we stopped trying to force it.  That was very hard for me.  Again though, babywearing to the rescue! Wearing my daughter has helped me to heal from that as well.  I feel bonded to her in so many ways and I think I might feel something was missing if I didn't hold her so close, wrapped up snug, as often as I do.