by Tekhniteer Jonathan Regla
My journey into babywearing started way back, before I was married, before I became a dad. I had always been intimidated by babies. They are so fragile, so tiny. When friends and family brought babies around me, I would hide in the background, too scared to hold them. As I got older (and braver), I would accept a family member’s offer to hold their tiny new one, but would still worry about how I would do as a dad myself. How could I ever bond with such a tiny thing? Even in my line of work, I had delivered babies, but never felt comfortable around them.
I will never forget the day my wife told me she was pregnant, I was so excited to finally be a dad, but slowly, those thoughts crept in. Would I be a good dad? Will I be able to bond with my new baby? My wife, being a bit crunchy at heart, dove into the typical parental research. She was so excited to learn about babywearing and how convenient and bonding it is for mom and baby. It was overwhelming for both of us and I worried how it would help me, it seemed that babywearing was an exclusive “mom” item. We finally settled on a gender neutral soft structured baby carrier and patiently waited for our little one to arrive.
My daughter’s birth did not go as planned. Despite our best “crunchy” efforts, our natural birth plan ended in a c-section. I remember being the first one to hold our precious baby girl. The nurse asked if I wanted to do skin-to-skin. That was so important to my wife, so I threw off my shirt and wrapped a blanket around us. My wife says her first post c-section memory is of me excitedly exclaiming “Look! I’m doing skin to skin!” It still scared me, and I worried I would never feel that bond that she would have with our daughter.
Weeks and months later, my wife got more involved with babywearing and was falling in love with it. I was nervous but excited to try it too. Our carrier, while comfortable for my wife, was not very comfortable for me, but I loved the baby snuggles and confidence it brought out in me. I went with my wife to a babywearing meetup and had the opportunity to try out different carrier styles and decided a mei tai would be the next best fit for us. Both my daughter and I loved it and our bond grew. I took her for walks, the grocery store, everywhere! As she got bigger though, the mei tai started to become uncomfortable for both of us, and again I became discouraged. Babywearing seemed like a woman-only sport. Many carriers I tried did not extend enough to comfortably fit larger care providers, like myself, and featured very feminine designs/colors. My wife was getting into wrapping at this point in her journey and encouraged me often to try wrapping but with all the fabric – it was a bit intimidating for me.
For Christmas, my wife surprised me with my very own “manly” wrap, a Tekhni Meandros Gothic. I swear, the washing machine took twice as long that day to finish, I was so excited! I’ll never forget our first ups in that wrap, it was like that first time in the hospital, all over again. My daughter snuggled up against me and nestled her head in my chest as if to say, “Dad, I feel so safe.” And my heart melted. It was love and my wife and I battled over who got to wear our sweet girl. We spent lots of time practicing wrapping and my confidence again grew. Wrapping is by far the most comfortable for me and for her. I can customize everything to make sure we are both cozy, supported, and happy.
I use babywearing nearly every day. It saves us from tantrums in the grocery store, and wind downs before bedtime. We babywear at the dog park and for hikes in the woods; for fevers and boo boos. I cannot imagine how my (and my daughter’s) life would be different had we not found babywearing. It has been vital to my survival as a new dad and a key element in building up my confidence as a caregiver. Once I gained my confidence with babywearing, that’s when my daughter knew she had my heart and will always be safe in my arms. It’s also the time I realized it, too. I spread that daddy babywearing love to my new dad friends in hopes they can gain the confidence that I have. I cannot wait for our family to expand, I know that I will be so much more prepared, thanks to the gift of babywearing.