There’s something that’s close to my heart that I want to discuss with you. It’s as close to my heart as the subject of breastfeeding is but I won’t bother you with the latter again…at least for some time. What’s on my mind right now is babywearing. And by babywearing I mean carrying one’s baby in a sling or a carrier, like one would wear a bag, basically.
I’ve had baby carriers for both Maia and Robin but never used them. I’m referring to carriers of the Ergo kind (though I never had an actual Ergo). With Maia, it just collected dust until I donated it to a friend. With Robin, it was always the husband who used them (an aside…how yummy is a man carrying a baby in a carrier?!) because my neck and shoulders just couldn’t take the weight. Then, when Robin was eight months old, a very generous friend gave us her old Liberty ring sling to try out (thanks again Emma!).
Epiphany! Eureka! I could carry a very heavy baby (little did I know how much heavier she’d be getting), have two free hands and feel no pain at all.
Not only that, but Robin loved it so much she napped and nursed in it for months after that. I still use it everyday, preferring not to lug around the pushchair unless I know we’ll be walking for more than half an hour. And, let’s face it, that rarely happens on an island this size.
What I’ve noticed, however, is that I am stared at a lot. It might be my months-old roots or my dark circles attracting all the attention but I am starting to think it’s because wherever I go, I tend to be wearing Robin. I started feeling very self-conscious last week while running to the school gate before it closed, holding Maia’s hand in one hand, her lunch bag in the other, and Robin squealing while she bobbed up and down in her sling. Every person in the street turned to look at us and one not so subtle lady stopped in her tracks to stare at us open-mouthed. At which point I stopped running and, trying to catch my breath, asked Maia whether my top was hitched up or whether I had food smeared across my face. She did a quick check and assured me I looked presentable, if a tad flustered. So I had to confirm what I had been suspecting for months.
They just can’t get over the babywearing thing.
I thought long and hard about it and realised that none of the parents I know (except for the expats living here) wear their babies. Which made me wonder why. Why why why? It’s one of the things I’ll miss most of Robin’s babyhood. I love holding her close, feeling her breath on my neck, smelling her hair, feeling her relax and lean her head on my shoulder. All this while going about my business, carrying bags, pushing supermarket trolleys, paying at the till or loading the car.
So I’m asking anyone who has an explanation for the lack of babywearing on these islands (or anywhere else you know of) to come forward. Is it a fear of spoiling the baby (I strongly suspect that might be one of the top reasons with fellow islanders)? Does it look too complicated? What is it?!