When Ellie was about 3 months old, my 15-year college reunion at Loyola New Orleans came up. Yes, I believe I’m dating myself.
A few girlfriends decided to go and I REALLY wanted to join them. If you’ve never experienced much more than a visit to the Big Easy, you may not understand its true allure. I lived there for 4 years, and yes, while they were crazy college years, they were also filled with food, music, friends and sometimes dirty but beautiful historical sites. The city kind of seeps into your soul and never quite feels like less than home. (If you’ve lived there, you know what I mean.)
Anyway, I truly wanted to join them because the last time I had been to New Orleans was for a very sad funeral (a college friend’s suicide) one month prior to Hurricane Katrina. So in addition to wanting to see my friends and my school, I also longed to see the damage to the city and how far along the rebuild was going … But I had a 3-month-old.
Being the nursing mama that I am, I could not go without her. But I’m also a babywearing mama, so I knew it was feasible. I just didn’t want a baby to ruin the kid-free trip my girlfriends had planned for themselves. So I asked, and questioned, and requestioned them to make sure they wouldn’t mind. I recall one conversation went something like this:
“So how will you get around? I mean all the baby gear, stroller, car seat and everything. That’ll be so hard,” one friend said. It was then I realized that maybe “babywearing” wasn’t as common back home as it is on the West Coast. I’ve lived near Seattle the whole time I’ve had kids. Where do you go where you DON’T see a mom with a baby strapped on in some kind of babywearing device.
I said, “Oh, it’ll be easy. I’ll just strap her on me in the carrier and off we go. 3 months is actually a great time to travel, they still sleep so much. And Ellie is a particularly good baby especially when on me.” I still don’t think she got it, but I eventually decided to go.
My carrier of choice for Ellie is the CatBird Baby Pikkolo. I had used the Ergo (which I also really like) for my son, but Ellie was a much smaller baby, and the Pikkolo has a great feature where you can cinch the area between the legs for smaller babies. Its also similar to a Mei Tai but with clips instead of ties, so the straps cross in the back (unlike the Ergo).
I visited Katy at REgarding Peanut about a month or so before the trip to check it out in person. I mean, did I really need to spend money on another soft structured carrier? I could probably make the Ergo work. Why yes! Indeed I did. It felt so much nicer for my back than the Ergo. Those crossed straps really make a difference. A little more cumbersome to get on, but well worth it when you’re going to be walking around a lot. At least for my back, it felt great.
I bought it and religiously practiced getting her to nurse in the carrier on the go. I didn’t want to hold up anything on the trip for my friends.It took a little getting used to, but we got the hang of breastfeeding with the hood up and carrier slightly lopsided. No one would ever know I was nursing. It was that modest. I got my own hotel room so no baby cries would bother anyone. And off we went!
The trip actually went quite well. One of the girls even slept in our hotel room and said Ellie was an excellent roommate. She took a bus tour with us in the carrier and some of the other participants didn’t even realize a baby was on board. We did have one night where she was cranky at dinner but you can’t fault a baby girl in a new environment for being at least somewhat fussy. We walked everywhere, she slept everywhere in the carrier, and it worked out great.
I still wear her in the Pikkolo all the time, and even at 11+ month and 20 lbs, my back is just fine. And she’ll still nurse and sleep in it. I also recently got the fleece cover for it as well for winter, which is so warm and cozy for her. I just love it
So the morale of the story, you should babywear! If I can go on a girls vacation with a 3-month-old and not only survive, but have fun, imagine how much easier it would make your everyday life. Especially with more than one kid to lug around!
My advice. Ask your friends to try out their models first. Each carrier out there is unique and has its own pros and cons depending on your shape and size, the baby’s size, your weather, what type of activities you plan on doing while babywearing, and how sensitive your back & body might be to the extra weight. There are so many wonderful choices well beyond the big name brands found at giant baby stores or super centers. So do your research online, and ask your friends. Other moms are always your greatest resource. Lastly, I recommend the web site www.thebabywearer.com for excellent reviews and information on many many choices of baby carriers.
Finally, if you live in the Seattle Area, contact Katy at REgarding Peanut www.regardingpeanut.com. She has a wealth of information to share and wonderful baby carriers to try before you buy. If you’re not in Seattle, I’m sure you can find a local small business to help you just by checking online.