I knew even before I was pregnant that if we were lucky enough to have a baby, I’d carry them in a sling. I loved the idea of closeness; but, as a wheelchair user, the practical aspect of being able to get around independently appealed too.
As a wheelchair user, I knew that a pram wasn’t going to be an option for me. Even the adapted versions I’d seen online didn’t look like they’d be right for me. They were also hard to buy and hella expensive! I also loved the idea of constantly having my baby in a hands-free cuddle. Babywearing was going to be both an enjoyable experience and a tool to help me be an independent Mum. But my journey with wrapping started even before my baby arrived!
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started researching carriers. There was a lot to consider to pick the right option for my needs. I knew I wouldn’t manage buckles or knots on my back with my wheelchair. While watching YouTube tutorials, I came across belly wrapping. I was experiencing pelvic girdle pain, but not getting much help from the physio I’d been referred to. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I ordered a one-way stretchy wrap in the hope that it would ease my pain. What a difference it made!
Wrapping got me through pregnancy and has been an amazing tool with my Squishy. As I type this, Elise is 9 weeks old. Thanks to babywearing, we’ve been able to do everything other parents and their newborns can. I’ve taken Elise to have her injections by myself in my wheelchair, with her in a sling.
We’ve been to London and Birmingham (nothing exciting, just hospital appointments for me). We’ve been out for ‘walks’ together and we’re looking forward to a big family get together in the park later this month. I can nip to the shops if we run out of milk. We meet up with friends for coffee, take the train, the list is endless. Without my wraps, I wouldn’t be able to leave the house with Elise alone and I’d struggle to do basic things at home.
My babywearing journey hasn’t always been an easy one. I was housebound during pregnancy, so I couldn’t get to a sling library. I’d ask for advice in Facebook groups, explaining that I couldn’t get to a sling library, only to have that very thing suggested to me. I wish I’d known about It’s A Sling Thing: part of CalmFamily sooner!
When you live with a disability, overcoming hurdles and finding alternative options is par for the course. While I’ve had some frustrations on my babywearing journey (and I’m sure I’ll have more!), I’ve also been able to make some wonderful memories in the short time Elise has been with us. Simple things that most people take for granted have been made possible for me, thanks to babywearing and having the right mobility equipment.
My husband has seen how much Elise and I both love our wraps and decided he wants in on the action too! So as an early Father’s Day and birthday present, I bought him a buckle carrier. I love that he wants in too – babywearing feels like even less of an adaptation because of my disability as a result.
Tania has co-authored an article with us on preparing to parent with a disability.
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