I’m the type of person that likes to be active about the things I am passionate about. In parenting spheres my passions include “extended” breastfeeding and carrying my child, usually in a sling. I remember when littlepixie was tiny, I used to get very excited whenever I saw anyone nursing an older baby in public, because it gave me hope during the first few difficult weeks, and I thought “well if they can do it so can I”.
It’s funny, when you’re pregnant, you smile at all the other pregnant women who seem to be everywhere. When you have your baby all bundled up in a wrap you seem to see slings all over the place. When you breastfeed you quickly recognise other breastfeeding pairs, the little hand stuffed down mum’s shirt, the new mum trying to undo her bra clasp, the way the baby is snuggling, a passerby might think the baby is asleep but you know he’s hard at work feeding.
I feel that by nursing my toddler in public, or carrying her in a funky wrap, maybe someone like me might see us and feel reassured, or maybe a pregnant woman might pass by and think “I’d love to do that” or indeed maybe nobody notices, and that’s cool too as littlepixie doesn’t care if she’s changing people’s minds, all she wants is milkies and to be up on her mama’s hip waving at all the people in town.
But the practicalities of life often intervene. Littlepixie doesn’t feed very often outside the house now, she prefers to be up on a chair eating big person food with the rest of us. But I make an effort to give an encouraging little smile to any nursing mamas I see on my travels, they may think I’m nuts, maybe we should have a secret sign, one nursing mama to another!
And we choose to be car-free, which means I use a stroller when I go to town with littlepixie, mostly to carry the groceries but also so she can nap on the bus. And when she’s not napping, she prefers to be walking. The wraps and Mei-Tais which were once so snuggly are now too constricting for this active bundle of joy who needs to jump down onto the grass right now! Which means that my beautiful slings, wraps and Mei-tais are usually left at home, apart from the ringsling, of course, which is always hiding somewhere on the stroller ready to do its job at a moment’s notice.
I guess what I’m saying is littlepixie is growing up and we’re entering a new phase in our family life, it’s so exciting. She’s over two stone now, that’s almost a quarter of my weight, so she’s getting heavy to carry! It may be coming close to my time to retire the “babywearer” label which I wear so happily, and instead to stick on a new “runs after crazy toddler” label. The good thing is my strong Scandinavian Mei Tais will be perfect for piggy back rides on daddy’s back when she’s bigger and once again realises the benefits to being carried on a long walk or a cross-country hike!
Is this a trial run for the day that we move on past our breastfeeding relationship? Is our good old reliable ringsling the same as that snuggly bedtime feed that no-one wants to let go of? If that’s the case, then I’m glad littlepixie is weaning me so gently and still claps her hands when she sees the ringsling, and still enjoys the occasional hip carry, usually when she really needs her mammy!
I am thankful that littlepixie loves to walk everywhere and I’m thankful that she’ll nap in the stroller, these things definitely make the gradual transition from “babywearing” to “running after crazy toddler” easier but a little part of me misses carrying her everywhere and that part of me wants a sticker for my stroller that says “Babywearer in Disguise“!