Someone once said that it’s easy to write, all you have to do is sit down, pick up your pen, and bleed.
It’s not always true, but in writing about this time in my life, this first year of my daughter’s life, the first 12 months of motherhood, I feel tender. Like the whole time frame is a delicate, lacy filigree that will slip through my fingers unless I set pen to paper and, well, bleed.
I’ll start by saying that as much as I love and adore being a mom now, I struggled that first year.
Why? Let me count the ways.
I’m a social person, a pleaser, a closeted co-dependant, and an extrovert. Blooming into motherhood felt more like someone had forgotten to water me for a very, very long time. Having a new baby shrinks your whole world so small.
And I didn’t know yet just how big it would one day again become.
So I was afraid. I thought, truly, that I would never feel joy again the way I did before I had my baby. That I’d never swell with awe at the sight of a sunset over a music festival. That I’d never sit around a campfire with a close knit group of friends, laughing, reminiscing, and revelling in each other’s company.
Instead my life would forever be the endless cycle it now was, trapped in my small apartment, at the beck and call of a very tiny potato shaped person that I loved more than anything in the world.
It didn’t help that 2015 was the height of “Perfect-stagram” - the highly curated lives of other new moms looking hot, snapping back, handling their four children with ease.
Why could they do it all, when I struggled to just get out of the house to get groceries.
What deficiency did I have?
Why couldn’t I do it?
As an achiever, this was soul-crushing. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t keep up with it all. At least, not to the level I saw, or imagined, every other mom was doing it.
*Spoiler Alert - no one is “doing it all”, and everyone is struggling.*
I discovered babywearing by accident. A friend brought over some hand-me-downs, which included a stretchy baby wrap she’d made herself out of cloth from a fabric store.
“What is this?” I asked.
“A baby wrap,” came the answer.
A ton of Googling later, and I was down the rabbit hole.
I purchased several varieties of stretchy wraps, and literally felt like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Some were too thick, others only stretched in one direction.
Eventually I found a local fabric supplier who made this delicious, four-way stretch bamboo fabric.
Some scissors, a bit of help from someone who knew how to sew and BAM. The Beluga Wrap was born. The world’s best baby carrier, though I didn’t know it yet.
I’m struggling to put into words how my life changed after I started regularly wearing my daughter in the bamboo baby wrap. Not right away. But slowly, day after day, a couple things happened.
First, I began to feel more confident as a parent. Having a tool that you know, 90% of the time will calm your fussy baby, is amazing. It changed the game for me. It gave me room to breathe, a moment to listen to my thoughts, and time to ground myself in the here and now.
Second, it made getting out and about a reality. I took so many hikes with my daughter in the baby wrap. Being in nature, surrounded by light and oxygen and greenery, while providing comfort to my daughter and nursing on the go...it started. Little peeks of what was to come. Hints that this motherhood thing might be even better than what had come before. Everything I loved pre-baby, made even better!
Of course now, it seems silly that I thought like that. But from the depths of what I now know was postpartum depression, it seemed logical. I hadn’t been sad. I’d been numb. And babywearing literally brought me back to life.
Add to that, I was so passionate about bringing this to other moms and dads, that I decided to launch a babywearing brand and business during the first year of my baby’s life. When she was five months old, to be exact. This challenge brought new life into my world, feeling connected to the larger motherhood. It itched all those extroverted, achiever tendencies.
That first year, it was terrifying.
It’s like nothing else I’d ever gone through, and I knew for certain that millions of other new parents felt the exact same thing. And it made me feel not so alone. It made me feel part of a team. Because you are part of a team! A global village of mothers and fathers.
So if you’re there, where I was, in the numb or the sad or the rage, know that it passes. It really does. For now, use your baby wrap to create the space for breath, thought, and a slowed heart rate. The oxytocin boost from skin to skin doesn’t hurt either.
And if it’s overwhelming, reach out to loved ones and your care provider. They want to take care of you, I promise. They are just waiting for the opportunity to help. You are not a burden.
If you or a loved one is suffering with postpartum depression or anxiety, please reach out to a trusted care provider.
Written by Haley Campbell, founder, CEO, Beluga Baby.
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