Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Plea to Babywearers Everywhere



So, I’m taking a second to talk to my babywearing tribe and I am hoping what I say will be taken in the emotion I am feeling and no one will be offended because I truly mean no offense.

I am worried about my babywearing community. I’m sad at how the attitudes and behaviors have changed lately. I don’t feel like the movement here is on a very positive road and while I don’t know that I can do a lot to change it, I do want to say something and then hope maybe it changes a few people here and there or at the very least, it helps me to have gotten it off my chest.

People, it has gotten mean out there. I’ve never seen babywearers bully others, ridicule them and exclude others in the ways I’ve seen this year. I have had moments when I was just plain ashamed of us as a whole. I don’t know how I was blind to it for so long, but I was. I see it now though and I don’t like it.
What happened to our community theme of “spreading the babywearing love”? That was a nice theme and it tended to blend into sharing the love in everything. I was always very proud of the fact that babywearers were a mixed bag: nursing, formula feeding, co-sleeping, crib loving, cloth and disposable diaper loving mamas and papas who were focused on their families and supporting those around them. It was a pretty awesome tribe.

I felt it in Chicago and it made me stronger as a person. I lived it in Idaho and when my tribe came to me I knew I’d found my people. But, this year… it is different. It is divided. It is unwelcoming. It is judgmental. That is not the babywearing community I know and love.

When did it become okay to ostracize a woman because she is using a baby carrier she bought at Wal-mart? Where is the concrete evidence proving that front facing out a baby in a carrier will permanently damage a child’s body? Who made the lists that get passed around banning one brand of carrier but singing the praises of another brand? When was it decided that the more hardcore and therefore awesome babywearer is always using a wrap (or a mei tai or a ring sling, take your pick) and the others are simply not worthy?
What happened to embracing our differences, meeting people where they were and focusing on support and inclusion in a world that is full of negativity and exclusion?

As many of you know, I am LDS. It is a part of me and I reference it often just because I speak it, it is something I know about and can use it easily in a conversation to explain myself. I also speak Cop Wife, 
Disgruntled Toddler and Crazy, but today I want to use Mo Mo.

For years now there has been debate about a point in our church called “The Word of Wisdom”. It is all about eating healthy, not being addicted to stuff, etc. Since I was a little kid I’ve heard debates over the use of caffeine and whether or not that is against The Word of Wisdom. There have been some pretty ridiculous arguments as extreme as, “if you eat chocolate you are an unworthy Mormon” or “if you don’t eat gluten you are breaking this law”. I mean… dumb. I am sure all of you can agree these are silly things to argue over. I’ve tended to be the person who read it, decided where I stood on it and happily sipped my Mountain Dew in the corner, not really caring what others thought. I interpreted it for myself and I’m satisfied with where I’m at spiritually and physically with it.

Well, just the other day, my church came out with a statement specifically on caffeine, and The Word of Wisdom and guess what it said? Basically, it isn’t a big deal. To each their own.

DUH!

Yay for pop drinking Mormons everywhere! We win! And yet… pop isn’t great for your body. Caffeine isn’t great for your body. If you are addicted to it, that is probably not so much good. So, while it isn’t a black and white no no, it probably still isn’t the best to consume. Best practice would be to drink water instead. I agree. But some days I’m going to sip my Dew and be happy.

Let’s liken this to the debate surrounding facing a baby out in a carrier. People, there is no black and white law. There are no formal studies. True, it isn’t comfy for a long period of time. True, there are better ways to use a baby carrier. And true, best practice would be another position that is comfier longer. But, here’s the thing: It is not a life or death issue AND, it isn’t our business or place to come down on someone for not doing a good thing (holding/wearing their baby) in exactly the perfect way! Why are we making this such a line in the sand when it will not affect the rest of our lives if that random woman at the park faces her baby out? You know what *could* affect the rest of our lives? Going up to that woman and befriending her, telling her you are a babywearer too and she rocks! Maybe if the two of you click, hang out and maybe you’ll have a lifelong friend. Maybe you’ll rub off on her and maybe she’ll rub off on you, both for the better. I did that once and guess what? I do have a wonderful lifelong friend because of it.

Let’s go back to church for a minute. (Face it people, babywearing is kind of like a religion to some of us so this works.) New scenario. I’m in church minding my own business and someone walks in that my husband has arrested, or someone walks in wearing a swimsuit when the dress code is more along the lines of dresses and suits.

Do I:
1. Tell them they aren’t welcome,
2. Ignore them or
3. Welcome them in with a smile or a wave or just a prayer in their direction.

Guess what? I don’t care what you pick. I’ve done option 2 and 3 before. I haven’t done option 1 before, but I’ve had it done to me and it suuuuuuucks. Worst feeling ever. I don’t want to make anyone feel that way. Besides, last I checked church is a place for everyone, sinners in particular. I’m not saying an imperfect babywearer is a sinner, I’m saying we’re all sinners in one way or another. Face it, none of us have used a baby carrier perfectly from day one. Lucky for us, someone was kind and helped us improve. Maybe we ought to return the favor. If we just aren’t there yet (and I get that, I do), maybe we need to just put on our blinders and ignore whatever offends us. Love more, judge less. We’ll be happier for it.

I have one last thing to add. I didn’t say it, but someone (again) from my church did. I have the link here and you can read it if you want. (Please note I’m not trying to convert anyone here. Worship or not however you want and I’ll think you rock because it is true.)

His name is Dieter F Uchtdorf and this is what he said:
When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:
Stop it!

Please, my babywearing tribe, stop it. Go back to spreading the love and accepting mamas and papas where they are. We need to turn this around and be kinder, more helpful and more giving. We’ll be happier people. Our special babywearing community will be stronger and others can find us and feel acceptance and support that they need.

I apologize for the weepy sermon here. I’m putting away the soapbox and hoping again that no one will be offended but perhaps will feel the urge to try a new tack and focus on finding the positive instead of rejoice in the negative.

Thanks for reading. Try not to kick my butt too hard virtually.




23 comments:

  1. Good points. I ranted a while back on my Facebook about seeing a woman wear her infant on her front in one of those low cut mainstream carriers that doesn't offer quite as much support as a typical ABC or wrap. The mom was stepping hard and fast and the baby's head was slamming into with every step. Yeah, I did blame the type of carrier at first, but really that's kind of more of a commonsense thing though, right? As in it should be commonsense to not repeatedly slam the back of your baby's head into things? ;-) I'm seeing more and more babywearing in Chicago. It's always nice to see.

    Reneé

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  2. Great post Kimber! I have been feeling a lot of the same feelings lately as well and I think it has made me kind of recoil a bit from 'the community'. I too want that "Sharing the Babywearing Love" feeling back and will do my part to ensure that is the way I approach and treat all that come my way. All the best, N~

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  3. Thank you for posting this. This is something that really needed to be said and I hope the babywearing community takes the message to heart and starts focusing more on wearing their babies and less on drama and tearing each other down.
    ~Jess

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  4. AMEN! THANK YOU! I really wish more mamas and papas would focus on the positive and forgive the negative!

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  5. I think I love you (seriously). This is something that has bothered me for such a long time, but I didn't have it in me to say it. Thank you!

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  6. Kimber - so beautifully said and so very, critically important! <3

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  7. I don't wear and more and I still work to spread the love. If I see a crotch-dangler and they seem interested in talking about babywearing, I will say that if that carrier becomes uncomfortable, there are a lot of other options out there. I let them know that there are people and Youtube videos to help. I know some women that I have talked to love them and some hate them and want to try something else. There is no reason not to spread the love, show respect, and share your knowledge.

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  8. Thank you! Let's focus on the good that babywearing does instead of confusing people by saying 'this is right' and 'this is wrong' - baby wearing is right!!! Help to spread that love first and foremost.

    Charlotte of www.redcharlotte.com

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  9. I COMPLETELY AGREE that the bw community do need to try to be friendlier to each other. I take part in several bw groups on fb and online, and I had to leave a few because it got so "high school" with name calling, back stabbing, jealousy, etc. Not that I personally suffered from these, but the whole feeling of sisterhood was GONE.
    As for moms being harsh to others for using a store bought crotch carrier, YES harm can be done. When my son was in the hospital for his cleft lip repair, there was a mom with a baby who had to have surgery because she got hip dysplasia while being worn in one. The following link talks about the surgery for children with that problem.
    http://orthopedics.about.com/od/pediatrichipinjuries/a/dysplasia.htm
    The approach I take to someone wearing one of these is : "So how do you like your carrier?" and usually the response is "My back hurts all the time" to which I say "Well I have a few carriers that I absolutely love and they are SO comfortable. If you like, I'm apart of a group that has several different kinds of carriers you can try to see what feels best." Then I tell them the next date of the meeting or give them my number. I find that this way, feelings are not hurt, and it opens it up to educate them on proper wearing habits.
    Obsessed with baby wearing
    Amberlea

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  10. Kudos for emphasizing the importance of sharing the babywearing LOVE. Luckily I have not interacted with any holier-than-thou babywearing folks, but I can imagine the damage it does--disapproval never motivates change. Support and love do! Thanks for all you do to teach moms and dads the joys and conveniences of babywearing.

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  11. Kimber, god bless you for having the balls to say what we have all felt for some time.

    -Corey King

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  12. Well, thanks, first of all, for educating me about the "crotch carrier," because I had no idea. I paid $120 for my Baby Bjorn with my first child and I have always worn them front facing for a while then flipped them around when they wanted to see the world. I had no idea that I was possibly doing my baby harm. AND I do NOT want to pay another $100 for another baby carrier, so don't know what to do about that for my 9 month old. If nothing else, you have educated me as to the existence of that issue as well as why I couldn't get any information out of my friends that were babywearers. I have wondered for a while, actually, why I would notice someone with a carrier and smile at their baby and cute carrier, and wonder how much their carrier was, but they weren't approachable at all, not even a smile. Probably because I am always wearing my baby, apparently the wrong way, and they thought I was a moron. Awesome. I didn't put too much into it, but at least now I know why. Now that I am in Utah I will have to see if there are meetings so I can be re-educated by the elite babywearers out there. Thanks for being so approachable and honest, Kimber. you rock!!

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    Replies
    1. See--this is exactly what I'm talking about!!! I think a majority of people want to know these things and people are too afraid to educate!! Thank you for sharing this!!!
      Kelly L.

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  13. Yes, yes, yes. AND FOR THE LOVE OF BABYWEARING, stop trolling pinterest and commenting on all the Bjorn pins that they're bad for babies! Seriously! Do you want that mom to be scared off & just leave the baby in their crib all day? Have some sensitivity in how you communicate, people!

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  14. Couldn't agree more, Kimber! Every baby is happier when worn close to their mother, father, or caregiver. That's the point to remember. Let's appreciate that, spread the babywearing love, support all parents in their quest to get their babies on them and stop the judging. There are *different* ways to babywear. True, some are more comfortable than others - for both baby and parents - but that's the end of it. Every baby is better off being worn (however it's done) then left all day in a swing, bouncer or cot. WEAR ALL THE BABIES! :)
    Keep spreading the babywearing love, Kimber.

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  15. THank You! I have felt this way for so long. If a mother can only scrape together enough money for a walmart carrier then so be it. BOth mom and baby still benefit from babywearing no matter what carrier or how it's used. And remember, some babies don't like the carrier at all. My son loved it for the first 6 months but after that he wanted out! As much as I would love to walk and cuddle him, he'll have none of it anymore (but adores his stroller rides).

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  16. I felt this way when I attended a few different babywearing meetings last year. It was very clique-y and not very welcoming. I hope your post opens some eyes.
    Lee

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  17. That's why I love thebabywearer.com - the people there are kind, considerate, and they don't subscribe to anyone being better than anyone else. Anyone who tries to be negative is gently reminded that the bw community should be inclusive.

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  18. Thank you for writing this. I joint the baby wearing world while all the craziness is going on. Seeing and feeling it everywhere almost make me quit it. But I can't quit baby wearing. I need it. So a small group of my friends, we decided to create our little group to start spreading the love. Our little group is small. We are at a place where baby wearing is not common. But we are doing it. Wish us luck.

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  19. Great points! As a newb this year, I see so much drama and it just makes me sad. :( as for crotch danglers... Haha... I embraced the negativity briefly until I realized that we all have to start somewhere! Thanks for a great post that the Babywearing community need to read!

    Rosie :)

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  20. I just want to say that thankfully I have not experienced any negativity in the babywearing world that I have been a part of; however, I myself have been judgmental regarding the fear that many people seem to have about educating strangers. My concern is education versus confrontation... where do you draw the line? Personally, if I were wearing my baby incorrectly I would want someone to tell me. Yet I have to keep my mouth shut when I see people in carriers that have even been recalled for positional asphyxia because "It's not my place." At some point I do think that it has got to be someone's responsibility to speak up in order to educate these mamas who obviously love their babies but are not informed on how to properly wear their babies. Before I met my BWI mentor, I was considering buying a bjorn and wouldn't have thought twice about facing my baby out... this was before I was educated (and there are documents to support the claims-including many chiropractors, orthopedists, and even well-informed pediatricians) about the fusion of my daughter's spine and hip joints. I do invite people to meetings... but when they don't come and they are therefore never exposed to the education, what then? I just ignore the fact that they could be doing irreparable damage to their child's body without knowing it... yet I do... and I could have helped them to make an informed decision? I feel like that is neglect! If it is not the members of BWI responsibility to educate the public, than whose is it? Stop passing the buck, mamas and babies deserve to be educated. Everyone needs to stop being so damn sensitive!
    ~Kelly L.

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  21. THANK YOU for this post! I am fairly new to babywearing and especially the virtual babywearing community and I have been shocked by how negative and self-righteous people can be at times. I have even noticed myself getting sucked into the self-righteousness and judged (in my head) other mom's who have used "crotch danglers."Luckily there are some awesome moms out there (like yourself) who are truly spreading the love of baby wearing, because I have become addicted (I've bought a wrapsody wrap, beco gemini, and boba in the span of about 2 months and use them all!) and actually notice a difference in the closeness between my son and I (14 months). Babywearing is definitely good for moms and babies but even I started out with a crotch dangler and it was my gateway into more long term babywearing solutions. PS, my baby doesn't have hip displasia!

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