Back when Ebony was an alien-like being of unknown sex growing inside my belly, Laurie and I set off to Mothercare to buy a pram. We tried out all of the prams, we spent ages talking to the shop assistant, asking her every question we could think of. We were torn between two. I checked Mumsnet to see what other parents thought of these travel systems. One didn’t fit into boots, and the other tipped over when crossing curbs, according to some online reviews. Laurie took to stopping parents in the street, and asking them what they thought of their pram. We took our research very seriously.
In the end, the thought of my unborn child tipping into oncoming traffic was too much, so we chose the other pram and hoped it would fit in our boot. It didn’t, because we had the tiniest car in the world at that point, so car journeys were not very fun, with me crammed against the chassis of our ginormous pram. Our tiny house caused problems too, trying to get the pram through the front door proved to be a bit of a nightmare. I would have to wedge it through, huffing and puffing while sprawling out all of my limbs as far as I could stretch to maneuver the pram indoors. We don’t have a porch, or even an entrance hall, so the pram had to be folded up for storage each time we got home. The pram soon became the bane of my existence.
A friend kindly lent me a sleepy wrap, and though I was terrified to use it for fear of doing it wrong, one day I simply could not be bothered with the hassle of the pram. I watched a few YouTube videos, copied the wrapping style, and pretty soon I was walking into town with a sleeping Ebony snuggled up against my chest. It was amazing. I even had my hands free for tweeting/holding an umbrella/jazz hands. I was a convert, and the pram gathered dust before being sold on a few months later.
I carried my little baby Ebony everywhere. I would walk a few miles a day, always with her in the sleepy wrap. Sometimes she would stay awake, her big blue eyes soaking up the world as it passed by, and interacting with anyone who came our way, and other times she would tuck her head into my chest and sleep. It was perfect.
As she grew older and bigger, she started to outgrow the sleepy wrap. By the time she was seven months, she was leaning back in the wrap and I was finding it harder to walk long distances. I loved walking every day, and exploring the local countryside, so didn’t want to stop. I returned the sleepy wrap to my lovely friend, and she kindly gave me an Ergo to borrow instead (this friend has a sling library, you see, you can find her here). The Ergo had buckles and straps, and was very different to our original stretch of fabric, but we both loved it. It was easy to put on, comfy to wear and Ebony felt secure in it.
Laurie wore the Ergo too when we were out and about, and really enjoyed carrying Ebony this way. He hadn’t even used the sleepy wrap, he felt that it wouldn’t be comfy for Ebony without breasts to lie on. I’m not sure there’s much truth in that, but I have always liked carrying Ebony so never argued myself out of that job. Laurie would use the sleepy wrap to take Ebony out alone, and when we went out as a family. It was really to see her snuggled up against him at weekends, as she did with me in the week. Even my Dad used the Ergo a few times, carrying Ebony to the park in it a few times, reminiscent of the way he carried my sister and I when we were little.
I would wear Ebony on my front, snuggled into my chest, as we went about our daily business. You’re supposed to wear them ‘close enough to kiss’, and that really is one of the wonderful things about babywearing. The person you love most in the world is always within kissing reach. Now, Ebony carries her soft toys around in the same way when she is playing, and always stops to give them regular kisses.
After almost a year of using the Ergo, I felt that Ebony was getting a bit big to go on my front. I was struggling to see where I was going, and she kept punching me in the face. I was scared to attempt a back carry at first, worrying that she would slide off and hit the floor as I was trying to position her, but after a few attempts we had it perfected. Just to clarify, when I saw a few attempts, I don’t mean there were a few occasions she slid off and hit the floor. It just took a few attempts to feel confident enough to strap her in.
Over the past couple of months, Ebony has started walking more so we’ve been using the Ergo less. Perhaps only taking it out once a week, and letting Ebony walk the rest of the time. Unless we’re in a rush, I see no reason to stop her walking places if that’s what she wants to do. Although of course it now takes us a long time to get anywhere.
I have now returned the Ergo to my friend, and feel quite emotional about it. The end of the sleepy wrap seemed to symbolise Ebony growing bigger, but the end of the Ergo seems so much more. Although she does like to be carried still sometimes, she mostly likes to walk now. My little girl is growing up, and becoming more independent. She wants to do things herself now, she wants to choose her own path (usually in the middle of the road), dictate her own pace (very very slow) and decide where we stop along the way (for regular cat and puddle sightings).