The North East Sling Library celebrates it's 3rd birthday on Friday 11th July (when I launched library, first meet was 10 days later). I am still utterly and completely amazed by how far we have come. When I first thought about starting it I never thought it would become as big as it has. I am extremely proud of it.
In the time we have been open I have seen hundreds of families. For example , since April 2014 to 30th June 2014 I had hired slings and carrier to 175 individual families. People use the library for individual and personal reasons, common themes link them but each family have their own individual reason.
This blog is therefore going to be a celebration of those reasons. We have all come along different routes to babywearing. Let's celebrate them!
My first slingee is Henry. He was born at 37 weeks on 9/1/2010 during a blizzard and with a good 3ft snow collected in our garden. He was a tiny 6lb 12oz and as such far too small for the carriers I did have. We had purchased a carrier from an NCT nearly new sale but it took till he was 5 weeks old to reach the minimum weight. We were also given two other carriers, including a bag sling. The two front pack carriers I simply could not adjust to fit me or do up by myself. The poor dog would see the carrier and think he was getting walk. Instead I would get frustrated and grumpy and end up using the pram. It was only with the Infantino slingrider recall in 2010 (thankfully not the brand I had been given) that I was determined to find something better. This prompted me to buy a BabaSling which I just couldn't get to work for Henry. Somehow via google & sling meet Facebook page I discovered Natural Mamas. This was my first post other than an introduction http://www.naturalmamas.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=50899
The rest they say is history. I quickly moved onto a mei tai before buying my first connecta and by June 2010 my first wrap.
Next up are Carla and Sharon. Both ladies came to our first ever meet back in July 2012. They are both now admin for library and help me run it.
"I was bought a BB when i was pregnant with DD1, i used it loads and really enjoyed the ease of use and keeping her close... until she got to about 5 mths old and i found her too heavy. I was sad, but assumed that was it. When we started BLW in Jan 2010 i joined the BLW forum for support as i didn't know anyone in real life doing it and after a while i noticed that the BLW community seemed to be talking about slings/baby wearing. Plenty of lurking later and i realised that Natural mamas was the place to find out more but after joining i was freaked out by all the abbreviations and terms i didn't understand! I was directed to sling meet, but there wasn't anything happening in this area. Then i found a mei tai at a NCT nearly new sale in April 2011 and although i had no idea how to use it i bought it anyway. I found videos online to work out how to use it and quickly realised that DD1 (then 20 mths) was too big for it really. Thankfully i was still dipping in and out of NM at that point and i noticed a post by someone called Henry's Mummy saying she was setting up a sling library in Durham :D I was over the moon, especially as the sessions were on a monday which is one of my days off. I carried DD1 much more comfortably after that until she was over 3 and i was about 5 mths pregnant with DD2. DD2 has been carried virtually every day of her life and i don't think i would have survived with slings!"
Sharon has been a stalwart of library from the beginning and is now truly one of my best friends. This is her story.
"I started with a very basic cloth tomy carrier when my now 15 year old was a baby, which was given to me. It was so very basic (like the seat part of an old style baby door bouncer), but with 2 kids, 17 months apart, I found it really useful for short trips. I grduated to a mothercare carrier when my daughter was born 8 years ago and then I bought (what I considered) "something different", a babasling. I carried her i this until she was 2 (even walked up high force with it).
So when I fell pregnant with baby number 4 I did some research and decided I needed a stretchy wrap. I couldnt afford a close at the time, so got a simple piece of cloth off ebay and loved using it, espcially as he had reflux symptoms and couldnt lie down after a feed. Keeping him upright meant less baby sick everywhere, so that was a big bonus. I taught myself how to tie t from videos on you tube.
When he was 4 months old, I saw someone mention somewhere about a new sling meet starting up in Durham. I had recently bought a Babyhawk mei tai and was keen to use it, but also was worried I wasnt doing it quite right, so off we went to Rachel old house and to the very first NESL sling meet."
Jillian next and one of my first consultation clients. I remember this one clearly as they borrowed my beatiful hedgehogs. A second consult followed late 2013 in preparation for new arrival. That's part of the best bit of this job, I get to see families grow. Lots of those who came to first meet are now big brothers and sisters.
"We started looking for solutions when our 11 month old daughter started to go bonkers every time she went in a buggy. She was a long way off walking and we were a bit stuck about what to do. We were considering buying a framed carrier when an old friend of mine told me about SSCs and Mei Tais (she was actually the creator of front back and sides mei tais which she made when her kids were babies). She suggested I look for a sling library. A bit of googling found the north east sling library - hubby and I had a consultation when our daughter turned one, we hired the hogs ocah mei tai and have never looked back... Baby hawk, napsack, tula ssc and now loving my oscha wraps and Lenny lamb SSC for our little boy."
"Bought a bag type sling off Jo Jo maman bebe, tried it once but it scared me because I couldn't see him under all the material and it also pulled on my neck, so then bought a brand new bb sport as it said it had excellent back support, used it once and really pulled on my back so gave up carrying, 2nd baby and I tried again but couldn't carry him at 8lbs (hurt a lot) so i gave up until MID introduced me to the NE sling library when lo was 11 months and now he is 2 And I am a complete churner and addict with full buckles."
"I heard about NESL via mums in Durham and went to the first library session when mj was about 4 weeks old and got a stretchy wrap - hand on heart best decision on my life! Made life with a very busy 3 year old so much easier I then bought a calin bleu from the library when I loved and then sold that on with some enabling to a friend to fund my connecta which we still use at 16 months! Rachel Coy you are awesome and helped me change my parenting style for the better x "
Finally Emma's story
"I'd heard about babywearing when I was pregnant with my first child but didn't really look into it. Sadly she was stillborn.
When I fell pregnant again I knew that when the baby was born I wouldn't want him out of my sight. I read up on babywearing and bought a Moby type stretchy as that seemed to be the best option. Before we left hospital I was carrying Ayaan around proudly. My husband's colleague introduced to the sling library as she heard I was interested and we hired a Scootababy carrier from Rachel at a baby show in Middlesbrough. The rest is history I suppose!"
Thank you for sharing your stories. I wish I could include all the ones that were shared.
But what it shows is that everyone's journeys are different and that it is not just one type of parent and parenting style that carry our babies. After all we are mammals designed to be carried, it's why baby's have such a strong grasping reflex at birth, they need to be held.