To many, the term babywearing may be a bit confusing. Simply put, it is keeping a child
close to you with the help of a carrier, wrap, sling, or something similiar. Parents have been
carrying their children in cloth/contraptions for centuries, so most people assume there isn’t
much skill or science involved. It’s basically just carrying your baby, right? But as a first time
mama, I found that babywearing would be the one act that had the most impact on my first few
years of motherhood.
The first 15 years of my professional life were spent working in the Early Childhood field
with young children and their parents. By the time I became pregnant with my first child in 2013,
my experience with infants and toddlers allowed me to feel much more confident about
becoming a parent than most other people I knew. Looking back, it was a false sense of
confidence that would affect my parenting abilities more than I had ever imagined.
My daughter was born in early 2014, and soon after I began wearing her in our Moby
wrap and then our Ergo. I loved the convenience and connection babywearing provided. I found
a sling type carrier at a yard sale and was excited about a new way to carry my young daughter
while gardening. Since it didn’t come with instructions, I began looking online to see how I would
position my baby in it. To my surprise, I found that the EXACT carrier I was attempting to use
had been recalled due to a baby suffocating and dying while being worn by the mother.
I was absolutely astounded that in all my years of working with babies, I had never once
heard someone talk about babywearing safety. I started looking for resources locally, and was
surprised that my family-friendly community here in MT didn’t offer any education on how to
properly wear a baby. I began researching and found the Babywearing Institute Northwest in
Vancouver, WA. Coincidentally, during this time the Healthy Start group I belong to (advocating
for Early Childhood education, services and funding) had money to sponsor community
members who were seeking training related to the mission of our group. I wrote a proposal
describing the benefits of having a Babywearing Educator in our community, and soon after I
was awarded the funding to cover my entire tuition as well as a weighted demonstration doll!
The following month my husband and I packed up our then 9-month-old daughter for the
9 hour drive to Vancouver, which turns out to be more like a 14 hour drive when you have a
squirmy baby in tow! I spent 4 days alongside some wonderful ladies learning and studying
proper babywearing techniques and the science behind why proper positioning is so crucial. I
was truly amazed that I had never before learned about how cartilaginous a baby’s spine is,
how important it is for their hips to develop correctly in infancy, or why it is so crucial to not put
their bodies into unnatural positions. I was overwhelmed at all of the options of carriers since I
had only been familiar with the soft structured (backpack) type. We were wrapping babies in
woven wraps (front, back and twin carries), using ringslings, podegis, brands of soft structured
carriers I didn’t know existed, and more. I returned from this trip much more confident to share
my new passion and feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the new information I needed to
remember and process.
One piece of information I resonated with most from the training was how babywearing
is beneficial for postnatal mood disorders. I felt so compelled to learn more about this because
looking back, I realized it is what had been helping me through the past few rough months
dealing with potential PPD issues. You see, after leaving my full-time job in the Early Childhood
field when my daughter was 4-months-old, I had big dreams about being a stay-at-home mom. I
was looking forward to all the things we were going to do while home during the day; the clean
home we would have, all the fun activities I would plan, homemade toys I would make, lovely
dinners I would create, and all the free time that would come along with not working full-time.
Little did I know, life had something else in store for me and without even realizing it, I began to
fall into a depression. I slowly removed myself from family time and began to avoid most
anything that took effort. Our marriage took a hit, the house was a wreck, we were always
eating out since I didn’t want to cook, and I felt like I was simply surviving, not thriving, as a
mom. Before her birth, I had built myself up so much in my own head. I told myself that if I could
run a childcare full of various-aged and abled children, staying home with my daughter would be
a breeze. But with this newly acquired self-doubt and lack of motivation, I became the type of
parent I never wanted to be.
Why didn’t I feel the urge to better myself?
What was causing me to resent my beautiful, active daughter?
Why was it so hard to follow through with learning all of my Babywearing Educator material?
Who was this person I had become and why was it so easy for me to fake it for outsiders but
crumble when it came to simply living day-to-day life?
This continued for months, but I tried my best to hide it and keep treading water in the
sea of motherhood life. Looking back, the majority of the time when I actually felt okay was
when I was carrying Lois. I felt so in-tune, so important to her. Seeing her little face look up at
me or feeling her sweet breath on the back of my neck provided me with the motivation to not
keep falling further into my depression. I felt the pull of our bond, and I knew my daughter
Although many of my passions dwindled during this time, there was still a tiny spark
when it came to babywearing. I loved answering questions for and helping friends, and I
enjoyed the beginning stages of building my business by acquiring baby carriers and creating
educational materials. I felt that I owed it to my community to provide assistance and I honestly
did want to teach them, I was just filled with self-doubt and stuck in a rut. But I slowly took
control of my nutrition and began to give my body some much needed vitamins and minerals it
had been lacking. Slowly, the fog began to lift, the energy began to slowly return, and I felt a
little bit better each day. I finally started offering in-home babywearing consultations, I taught a
Babywearing 101 class at the local Adult Learning Center, and my husband and I officially
started our LLC, Growing Up Green.
My physical and mental health continued to improve and by mid-2015, I began to
become more interested in physical-fitness. Although I had always loved to dance, I only
recently became eager to workout after shedding the 20+ pounds that had been holding me
down for the past 10 years. I yearned to start teaching a mom/baby dance or workout class but I
had no clue where to start. Again, I began researching and found a few certification classes, but
nothing that truly excited me. That is, until I stumbled across Kangatraining. This course was
started in Austria and had grown to become an extremely popular mom/baby fitness craze
throughout Europe and Australia. I saw that trainings were now being offered in the U.S. and I
began to dream of what this opportunity could provide for our life. I spoke with the U.S. leader,
and she informed me that I would be the first person from my region to attend certification. This
meant I not only would be the first in the area to teach classes, I also had the potential to
become the Northwest County leader and provide the certification trainings for new
kangatrainers living in my region (WA, OR, ID, MT, WY, ND and SD.) I didn’t think my husband
would be excited about traveling with our then 1.5-year-old across the country to Washington
D.C., but to my surprise, he was on board and told me to make it happen! We booked our
tickets and planned our trip, and in August we were in humid DC/ Virginia to attend training. The
minute I was introduced to this workout, I was hooked! It combined so many things I am
passionate about- babywearing safety, dancing, maternal bonding, fitness, working with babies
and their families, and strengthening the postnatal pelvic floor. The training was a wonderful
experience and I returned home excited and ready to teach!
But unfortunately, the depression monster snuck back into my life shortly after our return
and I felt stuck. I didn’t feel confident enough to finish my take-home written exam or create the
practical exam video to submit for certification. I was psyching myself out. I knew I wanted to
become a Kangatrainer, but the longer I waited to finish my exams, the harder it was to get
started on them. I didn’t want to lose my opportunity to be the Northwest Country Leader, and I
felt like I was letting so many people down by not finishing or offering classes. I slowly came out
of the depression and I finally had my exams ready to submit 7 months after attending training.
(Many thanks to the help of a personal/professional coach we began working with, the amazing
Tracy Worley.) What an awesome feeling that was! I quickly got word that I had passed and all
the insecurity and worry I had been feeling subsided and I knew it was my time to shine and
help others mamas do the same!
In addition to my Babywearing Educator and Nutritional Coaching services, I am now
offering 2 indoor Kangatraining classes per week at a local dance studio. Once a week I also
lead Kanga On Wheel, an outdoor fitness class with kiddos in strollers. KangaTrail is offered
once a month, which is a fitness hike for babywearing mamas. We also offer outdoor
Kangatraining classes twice a week now too! Summers in MT are so gorgeous, and we have a
great space where I’ll be hosting these classes in the sunshine and fresh air!
Without babywearing, I’m not sure where I would be today. I feel honored to be sharing
this passion with other families and hopefully helping other mamas who may be struggling with
the same PPD issues that shut me out from life for so many months. The time we have with our
little ones flies by, so providing opportunities to strengthen the bond during this crucial time is
something I consider of the upmost importance. And how lucky am I to get to serve the moms
and kiddos of my community, along with many more communities to come in the future!