Polka Dot Memories

By LeAnn Contessa

Being the oldest of six children, I had a lot of confidence while pregnant with my 1st child. We did all the usual things that parents do to prepare for their new arrival. I was shocked to see so many new gadgets out on the market associated with caring for your baby. I didnít remember my mom using these things. In fact, I donít really even remember her using a stroller. I suppose there were so many of us around, there was always someone available to hold the baby. Once our beautiful daughter arrived, I was not quite so confident in my new found role as a mother. I started looking around at other moms for guidance and reassurance. I wanted to make sure I was giving her my best, and that I was mothering her the "right" way.

I vividly remember one of our first grocery shopping trips. I dutifully carried her into the store in her car seat. Having weighed more than 9 pounds at birth, she was a bit heavy in that seat. Within seconds of shopping, she fussed and cried. I ended up pushing the cart around with one hand while holding her in the other. I felt like a failure. Surely I was doing something wrong. During the next few weeks there were many other such episodes. All she wanted to do was nurse and be held constantly. My confidence had all but gone out the window.

LeAnn with her three daughters and their own "babies".

It was a few weeks after she was born that I attended my first La Leche League meeting. Breastfeeding had been going well, but I was anxious to meet other mothers and to get more information. I will never forget the woman leading the meeting that day. She had an older baby that sometimes played on the floor and sometimes nursed or just hung out in the sling she was wearing. I was so impressed Ė she never missed a beat! When she put him in the sling he calmed down immediately. She even nursed him in it and had her hands free. Needless to say, I left the meeting that day with my first sling. It was the last one the group had left. A bright green sling with white polka dots Ė not my favorite color, but I didnít care. I was so excited that I stopped off at my husbandís work on the way home to show him. We still were learning how to use the sling, Taylor & I, but it felt natural.

My life really changed from that moment on. My relationship with my baby grew tremendously. I had always held her a great deal before I had a sling, but now I was able to wear my baby while carrying on with the usual tasks of life. It was truly empowering to be able to comfort, nurse and get her to sleep so easily. My baby seemed more settled and calm, as did I. I felt as if my baby had entered my life and had become a normal part of my day to day activities. She enjoyed being with me, and was so stimulated by our activities together.

Since then, I have seen many mothers discover babywearing, and each time I recognize that same look and feeling I had when I held my baby in a sling. It really was a life-changing experience that continues in our family today.

LeAnn lives in Arizona and has 3 daughters.

© LeAnn Contessa (TaylorMade Slings), 2003. All rights reserved.