The day after we brought Teddy home, after a crazy weekend of buying baby essentials, I put together a baby registry (we did zero prep work prior to getting “the call”), and one of the first things I added to it was the Ergo. Best baby carrier on the market, I was told. And I was fully prepared to carry my bundle of joy everywhere. Bonding with your child is crucial in that first year, sets the stage for the rest of his life, so we learned in our adoption training classes, and wearing him is one of the ways to accomplish that.
We ended up using gift cards to purchase the carrier, and I did indeed go about my day-to-day with Teddy strapped to me the first few months. I even got the insert so he’d be safe even as a tiny baby. (Without it, the Ergo is so roomy, newborns aren’t properly supported.) Once his neck muscles strengthened and he could look around, he made it clear he didn’t like it anymore, though. And this was before the Ergo 360, which allows you to carry your baby facing forward. In ours, the original version, Teddy had to face my chest, and he was much more inclined to see the world. We tried it a couple times as a hiking pack, and then decided Teddy really was done with it, so we stored it away. We planned to adopt a second child, and I wanted to use it for her as well.
When we brought Lydia home, I commenced the practice of strapping her in and heading out. She would sleep for hours nestled against me. I did not hate a moment of it. And our training the second time around spelled out for us the importance of connection for adoptive parents. The child spends the first nine months of her life, in utero, learning one voice and then, upon placement, suddenly encounters a strange voice. Lydia didn’t know us from Adam, but the carrier helped her learn our voices. Well, my voice, to begin with. Mike hated the Ergo. He would wear it on the weekends, if he was solo, but he found it uncomfortable and, especially with Lydia, whom we brought home in the spring, sweaty and hot. And his hands were full playing with Teddy. So if I was around, since I enjoyed the snuggling and didn’t mind the weight and heat, I wore her. She got to know my voice really well. We were inseparable. It was wonderful.
And then one day we realized that while Lydia had connected so well to me, she had not formed a strong bond with her daddy. I would leave the room, and she would cry. And not settle down until I returned. At first, we took the easy route. I simply took her back when she started crying. But we realized this was not sustainable. Mike needed to strengthen his bond with her.
The problem resolved itself one weekend when I got sick and was stuck in bed for two days. Mike was solo parent that Saturday and Sunday and dutifully wore his daughter for the duration. Come Monday morning, Lydia was as sad to see him return to work as she was happy to return to me.
From then on, I was still the predominant baby wearer, but Lydia was equally happy to snuggle with both of us.
Lydia slept soundly in the Ergo for several months. And then, suddenly, she didn’t anymore. I kept at it a few weeks longer, in the hope she’d return to snoozing for hours at a time, but alas, after one hour, then 30 minutes, and then no more than 20 minutes, her eyes would pop open and she’d wriggle until I’d free her. And then I’d be stuck carrying her because I’d have optimistically left the stroller at home.
Then one day, I finally admitted we were done. It was time to give away that precious ergonomic bundle of belted cloth. I knew I could sell it, but we were given so much for our two adoptions that I’ve made a practice of giving away everything we don’t need anymore. But I didn’t want to relinquish it to just anybody. I considered giving it to the Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, where undoubtedly it would’ve found a deserving home. But then I read about the refugee crisis, and the need for baby carriers, and I thought, that’s it. I would send it to an organization distributing baby carriers to refugees.
But I never got around to it. And then, this week, a friend posted on Facebook that she and a team from our church were going on a mission trip to Greece to serve refugees. I immediately pinged her and asked if the team would want to take along my Ergo. She said they would love to.
My heart was so full as I dropped it off. I pray that carrier that served me so well in loving my babies and helped facilitate my transition to being their mommy provides a warm, loving perch for a little one whose mama or papa is sacrificing so much to provide them a better life.