Confessions of a Short-Lived Babywearer

From pole-dancing moms on YouTube to hardcore fans in Central Iowa to pram-ditching parents in the UK flocking to so-called "sling libraries," the message is clear: Babywearing is back. Big time.

And for a while, I was one of the baby-toting faithful. In fact, I was perhaps one of its most enthusiastic supporters. After all, the perks were just too great to ignore: Studies have found that kiddos in carriers and slings cry less. Snuggling thisclose gives you two a perfect chance to bond, plus it frees up both of your hands. It's a godsend for babies with reflux. And it could even help prevent flat head syndrome.

What's not to love?

Turns out, plenty.

The first time I slipped my son into the carrier, I was expecting to feel a swell of confidence, of closeness. Instead, I was seized with fear. That all the straps and buckles my husband carefully secured would loosen and down would tumble our brand-new baby. That he was slowly overheating while I absentmindedly roamed the aisles of Whole Foods. That he was suffocating in there.

So I did what any neurotic normal mom would do: I constantly cradled his bum with my hands while we walked, lest he started to fall. I took to walking on shaded side of the street to keep his body temperature in check. I stopped every block or so to make sure he could still breathe.

When I was wasn't grappling with a host of unlikely what-ifs, I was tussling with a bunch of complicated straps and inserts that reminded me of the frustrating summer I tried to crack the Rubik's Cube. The looping and tying and buckling seemed simple enough on the instructional videos I watched, but it was as elusive to me as lining up a perfect square of same-colored stickers. Even the snap-and-click model I bought as a backup was too tricky for my sleep-addled brain.

But what finally ended my brief, well-intentioned babywearing stint wasn't anxiety or logistics—it was my back (and my shoulders and my neck). I was blessed with a healthy-sized boy who only packed on the pounds from birth. By the time I built up the energy to try a carrier, he was a solid 12 pounds, which after an hour of walking around felt more like 120 pounds. At night, I'd ice down my sore muscles and make empty promises to myself to start exercising again. Just as soon as the kid started walking. Of course, I wouldn't have to wait that long. After three long months, I threw in the babywearing towel, gave myself a pat on the (aching) back, and reached for the stroller. And I've never looked back.

Now it's your turn: Is there something about motherhood that hasn't gone as you expected?

Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+

Image of baby in carrier courtesy of Shutterstock

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