I gave birth on a February afternoon by repeat
caesarean. A pink, squalling bundle was handed to me, and I gazed
lovingly into eyes that seemed to recognize me. I whispered sweet words
of belonging to this girl child of mine, and comforted her outraged
cries. She was the daughter I so desperately wanted.
A week after her birth, a friend dropped off a ring sling. I snuggled my
7 lb bundle into it and went about my way with a mostly content baby.
Within two weeks, I was wearing her constantly. Towards afternoon,
she’d begin to sob and scream inconsolably. She would arch and thrash,
refuse to nurse, refuse a soother, the swing, my arms. The only thing
that would quiet her screams was the sling.
Screamy baby began to lose weight. I carried her – day in, day out –
in the sling. Repeated trips to the doctor revealed nothing. She was
unable to nurse, screaming hysterically within moments of latch on.I was
told rudely “ Do breast compressions. Breast is best.” Breast
compressions made her choke and gag... and scream. I began feeding her
formula. We went back to the doctor. Reflux. Milk Intolerance. Delayed
gastric emptying. Her weight gain was poor, and the screaming increased
in volume. Nights were long, filled with arching, thrashing baby. There
was many a night that I slept with her in the sling, sitting up on the
couch, unwilling to move her from her comfort zone. People told me I was
spoiling her. I told them “ We’re coping. This is all that works.”
I was told to let her cry it out, but I had no desire to abandon my
child to a dark room to cry out her angst. My responsibility to her did
not end when the sun went down. I whispered in her ear that I couldn’t
stop her crying, but I could hold her while she cried.
I paced the floors with her, snuggled tummy to tummy in the sling. At
six months, I begged the doctor to hospitilize her – I knew something
was dreadfully wrong. The paediatrician agreed. She was poked, prodded,
xrayed, and force fed. The screaming continued.
A day before discharge, my pediatrician’s partner waltzed into our
room with his holier than thou attitude. He told me I wasn’t putting
in the effort to feed her, to put her in another room to sleep and let
her cry it out. I banned him from treating my child.
I worked part time, baby in sling. I got a mei tai, two more ring
slings. I carried her everywhere. In the shower. To the doctor, to the
park, on playdates. People nastily asked me how she would learn to walk
if I never put her down. I ignored them. Carrying her stopped the
Just before her first birthday, she developed a high fever and cough. I
took her to the ER, still wrapped in my sling. We waited 7 hours. Xrays
revealed her heart was enlarged. We were admitted. I carried her nonstop
for the next few days – through a terrifying whirlwind of
echocardiograms and finally a diagnosis. During one particularly
memorable screaming fit, a nurse turned to me in tears, and handed me my
sling. My daughter quieted, safe in her sling.
She was in heart failure. A rare and very serious heart defect had been
causing massive heart attacks. Fatality rates were 90% in the first
year. The screaming was her suffering from crushing chest pain. In the
hallway, the cardiologist turned to me and quietly told me that it was
my parenting – the constant carrying – that had allowed her to
survive against all odds.
My daughter never cried alone, left in a room. Had I ever practiced CIO,
I would have woken to a lifeless baby. I held her through months of gut
wrenching doubt, moments when I cried too. But today, I watch my
daughter play and run, and laugh. I carried her through a mom’s worst
nightmare... and we both survived.
Updated- October 2010~
Mila is now a happily thriving three and a half year old. The scrawny
screaming baby has grown into a confident and outgoing preschooler
because of the constant babywearing. looking back, it amazes me... My
trusty sling and I... We SAVED her.
Mila now has had two brain surgeries as well. And a little sister! The
only way I've been able to care for them both is to be wearing one. In a
way, babywearing has allowed us to cope as a normal family. The baby
deserves Mommy. Mila requires hands on care. And I can provide both
girls exactly what they need!