My first baby and I were alone in our Brooklyn apartment during a particularly cold spring with yet another day of no plans. My husband was back at work after a mere three weeks of parental leave (what a joke!) and all my friends were busy with their childless lives—which kept them too busy to stop by or check in (making me, at times, feel jealous).
It was another day in which I would wait for baby to fall asleep for nap number one so I could shower and get ready to attempt to get out of the house together to do something, anything really, so I wouldn't feel the walls of the apartment close in on me by the time the second nap rolled around.
I would pack all the diapers and toys and pacifiers and pump and bottles into a ginormous stroller that was already too heavy to push without a baby in it.
Then I would spend so much time figuring out where we could go with said stroller, because I wanted to avoid places with steps or narrow doors (I couldn't lift the stroller by myself and I was too embarrassed to ask strangers for help—also hi, New Yorkers, please help new moms when you see them huffing and puffing up the subway stairs, okay?). Then I would obsess about the weather, was it too cold to bring the baby out? And by the time I thought I had our adventure planned, the baby would wake up, I would still be in my PJs and it was time to pump yet again.
Slowly, but surely, and mostly thanks to sleep deprivation and isolation, I began to detest this whole new mom life. I've always been a social butterfly. I moved to New York because I craved that non-stop energy the city has and in the years before having my baby I amassed new friends I made through my daily adventures. I would never stop. I would walk everywhere just to take in the scenery and was always on the move.
Now I had this ball and chain attached to me, I thought, that didn't even allow me to make it out of the door to walk the dog. This sucks, I would think regularly, followed by maybe I'm not meant to be a mom after all.
I was jealous of all the other moms who seemed to have their life together enough to be out and about with their kids, living their best lives. I couldn't be them, could I?
One weekend while walking around our quiet neighborhood, my husband and I walked into a cool baby store. We needed more bottles since I had recently decided to exclusively pump and this place came highly recommended as they had all the European brands (I cannot stop laughing at how naive we were as first parents, bare with me). The owner was working that day, and as she saw me struggle to get our stroller into her store she gently asked, "Have you tried babywearing?"
"No," I responded quickly "I'm too clumsy for it."
What I didn't say was that I was terrified of dropping my baby. That this isolation and loneliness had slowly metamorphosed into postpartum anxiety and I was constantly playing in my head all the things that could go wrong if I did something new or different with my son.
Babywearing was one of those things in my list of terrible things to do. I am clumsy. I am also very stubborn. She asked again, my husband poked me (he has loved babywearing since day one, much to my stress of seeing our infant tucked against his chest).
Fine, I said, defeated and aware that if I didn't at least try one carrier I was not going to be able to leave this store ever again. I requested something that would be easy to put on and more intuitive than the pieces of cloth you're supposed to wrap seven million times around your body. The owner of the shop, who happened to be a babywearing guru, handed over a Tula carrier.
Click. Went the carrier. Click. Went my brain. Maybe I could babywear after all? I walked out with a brand new carrier and the hope that maybe this was my way back into my regular life.
At first, I tried it out at home while doing other things, not fully committing to being away from the comfort of everything I thought my baby needed. Then we moved to walks around the block with the dog, to see how we all felt about being outside in this new thing.
Slowly I found myself out all day with a baby that would nap against my chest when he wanted to and explored the world around him when he was awake, eyes wide open, taking it all in.
Babywearing completely changed my outlook on motherhood.
It became my preferred method of transporting my growing child, well into toddlerhood. I only stopped briefly when I found out I was pregnant again, this time with twins. After my body attempted to miscarry I was told to take it easy and not carry a lot of weight. My toddler was a lot of weight.
With two new babies, babywearing was (and I don't say this lightly) life-saving. They were born right before the pandemic hit the U.S. which meant we had no support at home and no extra hands to pass babies around while we chased after a toddler. They both also had terrible reflux, which meant they needed to be upright 24/7 or they would scream until our ears bled.
So we wore them a lot, and we still do. It allows us to go on family hikes, to keep them close to our chests and away from germs and viruses in these very weird times. And most importantly, it allows our twins to explore the world just like their big brother did while strapped to my chest.
If I could go back in time, I would add a Baby Tula carrier to my registry and tell myself how easy babywearing can be, even for a clumsy human like me. It would've made a world's difference in my first fourth trimester. A version of this story was originally published on September 28, 2020. It has been updated.
A version of this story was originally published on September 28, 2020. It has been updated.