Recently many of my friends have been asking for hand-me-down baby supplies either for themselves or someone they know in their lives who could use a little help. (Don’t we all?) I have been fortunate enough to have been gifted or handed-down many items for my kids including: gear, clothes, toys, books and even cloth diapers. I am always grateful for the things and they have been given to me and have always made an effort to pay it forward when I can. As a result there aren’t very many baby or toddler items left in my house. I’m guessing moving last year really helped to weed out those supplies too.
However, there is one baby item I can’t bear to give away. I thought about it when my cousin’s son was born because I knew she could really use it, but the thought of giving it to her actually made me cry. It was then that I decided it was the one piece of baby gear with which I will never part. It’s my ring sling.
I’m pretty sure we bought it ourselves because my sister in-law had one and used it all the time. When the girls were teeny tiny I would plop them in there for everything. It never failed to soothe them. In those days when they were infants that only wanted mommy, but mommy had things to do, the sling was my savior. They would hang out in there happily as I went about my day around the house. When they were big enough I moved them into the Ergo (another mommy lifesaver). Kitten still sometimes requests to go in it, especially if she’s super tired or doesn’t feel well. It seems the carriers are a source of comfort for them as well.
I think a big part of the reason I am so attached to my sling is because of Lovey’s early weeks. I’ve shared before that attempting to breastfeed her was traumatic. Still all these years later it is difficult for me to talk about. As a result of our troubles it was hard for me to bound with her. Looking back I probably had some postpartum depression that wasn’t diagnosed due to the coinciding death of my mother in-law. Grief and depression look a lot alike. Those early months it was hard to connect to that little human. I loved her desperately but I kept waiting to feel connected to her. The sling helped. When she was snuggled in there she was all mine. It was us against the world. I also felt like I could protect her from anything when she was snuggled up inside there.
When Kitten was born the effect of the sling was similar. Being a second child there wasn’t much time for the two of us to be together alone in those early weeks. The sling came through again. I found myself wearing Kitten most of the time when we went out of the house because I knew no one would bother her or ask to hold her. I have a very distinct memory of heading to the library as a family when Kitten was five days old. She slept in the sling the whole time.
As I’m writing these memories I’m getting a little wistful. I know I’ll never have a little baby in a sling again, just the two of us. For as much of those early weeks that are truly awful (the sleepless nights, the crying, the leaky boobs, the feeling of being totally and completely overwhelmed) there are so many memories of those newborn days that I cherish. Most of them have to do with that sling. Holding onto it is another way for me to hold onto those early days.