spinal surgery + low muscle tone: my babywearing journey.

October 11, 2012, Michaela Evanow, 5 Comments

“I see slings as basic items of clothing, and I recommend that my clients have several available, try different kinds and wear their babies as often as they can. Each sling, carrier, backpack and hip carrier has its place and appeal. One mom who wouldn’t think of using a fabric sling loved the high-tech fanny pack I got from Cuddle Karrier. It converts into a sling-like carrier, but goes back to being a fanny pack easily. Just as different styles of parenting work for different people, there are different carriers that work for different mothers. As long as the baby is being carried, that’s the whole point.”

~ Jennifer Rosenberg
Excerpted from “Cuddle Up! Slings and Baby Carriers,” in Midwifery Today’s Birth Wisdom, Tricks of the Trade, Vol. III

I love this quote. I want to be this quote. But throw in bunged up shoulder muscle, rods and screws on my spine, and a darling baby that has low muscle tone, and you have yourself a little dilemma. It’s always a little bit of a hassle to strap Florence into any sort of carrier and these days I find myself longing for the stroller when I’ve forgotten to put it in the back of the car.

It’s Babywearing Week, and this post fits right in!

At this moment in time, we are on a difficult babywearing journey, but a journey nonetheless. I’m determined to make it work. One thing I’ve learned about baby’s with different needs and their mamas, is that society often doesn’t know how to “fit” them in. Things that are designed for babies with different needs can be awkward, ugly, expensive and hard to find. People get weird looks on their faces when a 7 month old has a “floppy head.” Since I can’t run into a store with Florence on my hip, I need to have a carrier with me to make things easier. I like to snap on the Ergo and grab some groceries, but like I mentioned before, it’s becoming more of a hassle as she gets bigger. I find I’m constantly adjusting her, supporting her head or fidgeting. It’s important and necessary for me right now to be wearing Florence.

When you combine my daughter’s hypotonia…

With my spine…

…You come across some major problems in the babywearing department.

I love wearing Florence, and have from day 10. I didn’t do much that required me to wear her around the house before then, and I can’t remember venturing out too much. When we did go out, Jay wore her in the Ergo with the somewhat useful, but awful infant insert. If you have one, perhaps you understand. I preferred the Moby Wrap, because it distributed weight more evenly, brought Florence closer to me, and just felt right.

This was taken two days after Florence was born. Note, my husband is wearing her, because I couldn’t stand the infant insert!

Now, Florence will barely tolerate the Moby, perhaps because it’s too constricting, and since she can’t hold her weight up and squirm around too much, she feels stuck. I still like it for napping, and I think that’s what she associates it with. I wear it maybe once a week these days, but can’t wait to have it around for the newborn stage for our next child.

The Ergo is useful without the infant insert, and that’s the one I use out and about because it’s the one I own. I love that I can easily breastfeed in it too. However, the neck support is lacking and I have trouble keeping Florence upright. I use a rolled up receiving blanket, but it’s bulky and pushes her head forward too far. I also fiddle with the cover and button it on opposite sides on the shoulder, to “catch” her head, if you will.

She doesn’t like it much, and more often than not, I have to pop a pacifier in her mouth to keep her from squirming. She likes to look at me while being worn, since she is 7 months old. But if she looks for too long, she looses control of her head and it bobs too far back, although she seems comfortable. After an hour or so, the Ergo can really put pressure on my shoulders, and I feel it in my bones the day after. Whereas the Moby is a bit more gentle on my body, however, I’m not wearing it for long periods of time.

I looked at the Stokke MyCarrier 3 in 1, and it was awful. Way too many bells and whistles. It was awkward, and it didn’t offer as much support as I thought it should (for the price and the look of it).

I’ve been told the Boba carrier is also great, but I saw it in the store and it doesn’t seem to offer much more support than the Ergo (see below—Boba wins!)

I was excited to discover the BabyHawk, created by a mother (read the cool story) for her two children with different needs. It got me thinking…I want to do that! I want to create things for Florence and other babies like her. I want to include all the other mamas out there who have children with different needs. Needs that the mainstream multi-billion dollar industry can’t fill. Funny. And I want them to be classy and awesome and creative and beautiful. Just like the children that need them. And just like the mamas that care for those children.

In any case, this is the BabyHawk Mai Tai (pictured below) and the Oh Snap looked pretty fabulous. So I tried the Oh Snap. I loved the high neck, something you don’t find on most carriers, and it was quite supportive for Florence. It was also stiff enough to offer the support needed, but the only issue was me. I found it incredibly uncomfortable. I was pretty disappointed, since I thought this would be it! The straps were a bit of a nuisance, and I just could not get it on without losing my mind. I did borrow someone else’s, so who knows, maybe it wasn’t in perfect working order. The colors also bled when I hand washed it. Not cool. I would try it again though, so it’s worth a shot.

baby-hawk-mei-tai

The Beco Gemini was another option, since it was long and seemed supportive. But can you see how awkward this picture looks? I don’t know if it’s just me, or what, but it was SO skinny. You need to have a small child. I suppose it would be great for a preemie with special needs, or just a preemie in general. For us, it didn’t work because Florence is on the bigger side. She was bulging out of it, and I knew with her low muscle tone, she would slip out of position in a second.

beco

**************UPDATE:

After much deliberation I decided on the Boba 3G Carrier.

It is wonderful for so many reasons and Florence loves it too. The feet straps are a life saver, the structure is just sturdy enough without being uncomfortable for me, or her. The side straps keep her reigned in, unlike the Beco. And it comes with sleeping cover, which has helped on those days when she is extra floppy and needs more support. It really is a beautiful carrier too, and I get lots of compliments on it. This is a plus, since many “medical” or “special” items are down right ugly.

5 Comments

  • Reply Amy Paine (Smith) October 12, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    Hi Michaela,

    I have a friend who owns a LilleBaby and there is a Babywearing Lending Library here in the island. If you find yourself over here feel free to msg me and I could see if you could give it a try. Another good carrier is the Beco as they have a higher rise in the back. If you look up Victoria Babywearers on Facebook there is some good information. 🙂

    • Reply Michaela. October 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

      Hey, thank you Amy. I will look into that!

  • Reply Helen Engel-Gray October 11, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    When you swing by to borrow the Bjorn Balance (if you still need/want it), you are welcome to try on our Beco Gemini soft-structured carrier to see if it works for Flo. Mine has a fold down/up head support flap that is buckled in. Sometimes it’s helpful to try a bunch on before committing more $. 🙂

  • Reply @_ck3 October 11, 2012 at 2:39 PM

    Check out Baby K’tan! Here us their bio: http://www.babyktan.com/info.html
    Hope you find or design the right carrier for Florence! Ck

    • Reply Michaela. October 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM

      Thanks for that Ck 🙂

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