A mother's touch allegedly saved a life.
Holding my baby also saved mine.
It's funny that as the owner of a breastfeeding joint, I wasn't able to nurse my own children without supplementing. But everyone has their story, and mine is one of many. Due to a breast reduction at 17, my milk ducts were severed, and when I was pregnant, nobody knew if I was going to be able to nurse successfully. Yada, yada, yada, insert breastfeeding disaster story here, and that became my motivation to open Boing Boing. Everyone has their own journey in life. It is not up to me to judge others, yet I was judged for not being able to nurse in public in Park Slope. All that changed when I discovered babywearing. I got an old used sling at a Park Slope stoop sale and I found a different path.
I could carry my baby with me. And I did, into the future.
My step lightened considerably. I could face the looks of contempt from other moms when I took out a bottle when I knew I'd be tucking my child into a sling afterwards. It protected us both.
Flash-forward to today, and I still feel a warm leaky feeling when I see a mum carrying a baby in a sling. It's breast milk transference. Not an Ergo or Baby Bjorn; it's the ring sling distinctly and only which moves me most, although just seeing parents carrying their babies makes me swoon. I cannot explain why I melt inside.
The scientific data supporting the numerous benefits of babywearing for infants have been listed; from thermoregulation to early walking. But have they also studied the effects on parents? It brought joy into my life, and I am eternally grateful that I'm able to witness that on others from my view at The Mothership. My neighborhood has its benefits, and people wearing their babies is one of them.
But this story is not about me. My story is nothing compared to the stories of these moms.
In Haiti, slings became associated with poverty. Just as Nestle's made breastfeeding seem dirty and bottles modern. Baby carriages signified wealth, and slings made of cloth were for poor people. Old-fashioned. Not contemporary.
Then came the earthquake.
You couldn't get through what was left of the streets. But mothers still had to get water and take their children with them, even if they were carrying rebar on their head. Throughout the crisis, NGOs and charities rushed to Haiti to help. This is not the place to get into details of misspent money, or huge governmental failures. This is the tale of a successful mission that is ongoing and life-altering. Rockin Baby slings is saving lives.
From their website:
Armed with the knowledge that Haiti has the highest infant mortality rate in the Western Hemisphere, Kathryn Wiley started a movement. Inspired by the Onefor One giving of TOMS shoes... Understanding the importance of the bond a mother can share with her infant, Kathryn decided that with every sling sold, Rockin' Baby would donate one to a mother in need... In addition to making it easier to nurture and love, it will allow mothers to continue to gather food and water for their families. As the attachment of a mother and her infant could be a matter of survival, education and slings will impact this need dramatically.
Once again, babywearing might save my life.
When people ask what I would do if I sold my shop, I have often thought of Kathryn Wiley and the good work she does. But how could I pivot to do something so grand? Well, as I have learned since writing my first blog here on Huffington Post, you have to ask. So I asked!
I am honored to announce that I might go on a Mission to Haiti with Rockin Baby Slings. There is nothing greater than this that I can imagine than helping mothers with babies in a place that so desperately needs it. It's important that we all pay it forward.