Taking Baby(wearing) Steps

Like any North American baby born to financially comfortable parents these days, Gus comes with a lot of gear. In the second and third trimester, I did my research and over time we bought the chosen items so that by the time he was born, we had everything we wanted. Both my husband and I try to avoid clutter as much as possible, and while our house is not small, it’s not big either. So, I tried not to buy multiple things that served the same purpose, figuring that once the baby was here, if we felt like what we had was lacking, we could always buy something then. Over the last four months, we have steadily used all of the items bought, and have overwhelmingly been pleased with each purchase.

One thing that did take some time to catch on with me was our baby carrier.  We bought the Ergo baby carrier, along with the infant insert, so that we wouldn’t need a second carrier for when Gus was a newborn.  Many people I know like slings in the beginning, but the concept of a sling scared me. I remember reading a story several years ago  on CNN (I think before we even started trying for a baby) about a woman whose baby suffocated in her sling when it was only a few weeks old, and I have never been able to forget the pictures accompanying the story showing the woman smiling with her baby in the hospital bed shortly after giving birth, combined with the thought of how horrible it must have been to lose the baby so soon afterwards.  I have since read of several sling styles that were recalled, and how you need to make sure your baby is positioned a certain way so that their airway stays open, but even though I know that in the vast, vast majority of cases slings are now safe I felt like I would be on constant high alert if I used one.

Based on everything I’d read, I was very excited about the Ergo carrier, and about babywearing in general. I expected to use it all the time once Gus was born, however a few things happened that dampened my initial excitement. The first thing took place in our baby care class at the end of May where the instructor had the men model different types of carriers, and then we talked about the pros/cons of each carrier. As she wisely pointed out when we got to the Ergo carrier, the infant insert (which is essentially a quilt) tucked into the carrier would make for a hot baby, and therefore this combination was not that practical for the hot summer months.  This made perfect sense to me, so once Gus was born, using the carrier was not top of mind.

When Gus was about a month old, I finally pulled out the carrier and the insert as I felt that we should try it out sooner rather than later. I tried the insert and carrier on myself, but it didn’t feel quite right. I was recovering from a c section, and while I generally felt fine, I was wary of my doctor’s instructions that I should not carry anything heavier than the baby for 6 weeks. While the carrier itself was not very heavy, something about having Gus pressed against my stomach for a longer stretch of time made me uncomfortable, so I decided to wait a few more weeks before trying it again. In the meantime, my husband also tried the carrier, and took to it quite well, so from time to time when we went out for a walk, he would use the carrier instead of our stroller.

I was happy that the carrier was finally in circulation and that it had also turned out to be a successful purchase. I tried it again a few weeks later when we went for a walk, but again I didn’t really like using it. I felt uncomfortable with the fact that I couldn’t see my feet, and was worried that Gus would fall out (or that the infant insert wasn’t positioned properly). So, I once again left the babywearing to my husband.

In September, I started baby and me fitness with Gus. The community centre where the classes are held has a few stairs when you first go inside, and there is a tiny elevator that will take you up to the front desk if you are not able to use the stairs. After a few classes, I became aware of the contrast between the moms who brought strollers and had to line up at the elevator after class, versus the moms who just strapped their babies on and went merrily on their way. One way looked way simpler than the other way, and I was jealous at the ease with which the babywearing moms moved around.

However, I continued to use the stroller, even after the elevator started acting up, and security guards had to be posted next to the elevator to instruct people on how exactly to stand in the elevator so it would work properly (or in the worst case scenario, carry strollers up the stairs). Even with the added hassle of not knowing if the elevator was gong to work though, I still stayed away from the baby carrier.

And then last week, I caved and joined the dark side! After weeks of scheduling madness, my friend and I had finally managed to arrange a lunch date next to her office. My original plan was to drive, however as I thought of the bother of parking on a busy downtown street, I decided that walking the stroller down would be a better option (especially once the forecast called for an unseasonably warm, sunny October day).

On the day of our lunch date, I got Gus all ready to go, and went to grab the key that we use to lock our stroller to the front porch, only to find that it was not in its usual spot in our piano bench. I looked closer, and it still wasn’t there. I checked if I’d left it in the lock, or inadvertently tucked it into a pocket or my purse. Nothing. I checked the bench again, taking everything out of it (not once, but twice), and checking the bottom of the bench carefully in case the key had slipped in between the cracks in the wood. Still nothing. I took everything out of my purse. No key.

I finally decided that it was best to go back to plan A, and drive down. Since I couldn’t take the stroller with me to the restaurant, once I parked, I would carry Gus in the Ergo. We had recently stopped using the infant insert, and when I tucked Gus into the carrier, babywearing felt a lot more natural than it had with the insert. I walked out to the car with him, only to find that the car wouldn’t start!

I had been looking forward to lunch with my friend all week and was determined to make it happen. With the stroller and the car both out of commission, I decided the only option left was to strap Gus on and take the streetcar down to my destination. So, off we went! Gus enjoyed his first streetcar ride, and I relished the flexibility that being able to easily take Gus on public transportation offered us. Lunch was great, and on the way back, I enjoyed an hour walk back, with a sleeping Gus snuggled up against me.

Ever since our first successful outing, I have taken Gus out in the carrier several times, happy to finally join the ranks of the baby wearing mamas.