Saturday, 22 February 2014

Meet the BWA Board

Photo courtesy of Jo Ann Bonnick
Hello! I’m Jo Ann and my son, Joel, is 11 months old. I’m the President of Babywearing of Algoma.

Before my son was born, I knew all of the things I wanted for him, babywearing included. I researched carriers and thought they were too expensive (haha), so I did some more research and found a few mamas who had made their own. I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl and knew I could do one for myself. So I did. Along the way, I also decided to start making my own diapers. This led to me making some for other people, all this before my son was even born! I met a couple of mamas local to where we were living at the time that were using woven wraps. I thought they were beautiful! Thus began my research into wovens. I still thought they were sooo expensive, so I traded some mamas handmade diapers for my first two wraps. Thus began the spiral into where I am today.
Reading about and seeing all the gorgeous wrap conversion carriers brought me to sew up my first wrap conversion (again, trading diapers for the wrap I made it from).  With more research, I discovered a small community of WAHMs that made and sold wrap conversions to help them stay at home with their littles longer. I joined the Baby Carrier Industry Alliance to start things out right, keeping up with all the rules, and began converting wraps for other mamas. I now have a thriving wrap conversion business that keeps me busy when my son is sleeping. My first handmade carrier is now part of the BWA sling library and I have more wraps than I care to count!
In the previous town I lived in there was a very small community of babywearers. We started a local babywearing group, but it really struggled to get off the ground because it was such a small town. While we were still living there, I had advertised one of my babywearing pouches for sale on my Facebook page and surprise surprise! the mama that bought it turned out to be from Sault Ste Marie! We had just found out my husband got a job here and we were moving in November! Meg told me about the local group of babywearers and before I even went to a meeting, we were chatting online. Everything else seemed to fall into place and I ended up as President of our awesome group.
I love how accessible we are becoming to the public and I love to see babywearing in the ‘wild’. Its such a positive experience for any caregiver and baby, fostering a sense of security and closeness. I really believe happy babies are created from the kind of feeling both the parent and child get from that kind of closeness, and I love sharing that with other moms and dads.


Photo courtesy of Stephanie Danielle

Hi all, I’m Steph, Vice-President and Treasurer of BWA.  I have one little, a fiercely independent little girl named Olivia.  She will be one next week (where did the time go?!).

When you decide to start your little family you are suddenly immersed in this whole other world. There are names for every parenting style, you have to decide how you are going to feed your baby, what’s going to go on their bum, where they’re going to sleep, and so so many more things.  Babywearing was something I knew I was going to do from the second I starting looking into what kind of parent I really wanted to be.
I added a HotSlings pouch sling on my registry and thought I was golden! .. And then she was born.. All of these awesome things I thought I had decided and knew all about turned out to be partial truths or not fitting for us. Olivia hated the pouch sling with all the hate a newborn can muster. Obviously these babywearing moms (that I desperately wanted to learn from) were wrong .. babies don’t even like to be worn.. right?  Wrong, totally totally wrong. I reached out to local moms during late night nursing sessions and I found a small handful of moms who knew a lot more than I did and they started steering me in the right direction - linking me to facebook groups, inviting me and Olivia over for “playdates”, etc. 
At three days PP, a local mom messaged me and said I could HAVE her gauze wrap as she didn’t like the way it wrapped - if I wanted it, it was mine free of charge. OF COURSE I WANTED IT! So I scooted out to grab it and rushed home to my baby and put that wrap on the couch for the night. It was intimidating - what if I dropped her? What do I do with all this fabric? Where does it all go? So I headed back to the internet and reached out again, and after chatting and spending about ten hours watching YouTube videos - I had Liv up. I DID IT. I fell in love with wrapping my girl right then and there and set out on my acquiring and churning adventure. I’ve bought and sold a few carriers since then, and have a couple of wraps on hand now. I am not a mom with a massive stash but I LOVE what I do have.
I am so grateful to the women in our babywearing community.  I have learned so much through them and very much look forward to growing with them. We may be a small community, but we are steadily growing and have set out to spread the babywearing love here in Sault Ste. Marie.

Photo courtesy of Emily Rivard
I’m Emily Rivard, Recruitment Officer for BWA. I have 3 kids - my 7 year old stepson Gage, my 2.5 year old toddler Kai, and 10-month old baby Liam. I stumbled onto babywearing while researching cloth diapers on the Diaper Swappers forum when I was pregnant with Kai. I was intrigued and loved the idea, but my husband was still a student and I just couldn’t justify purchasing the Easycare 01 rainbow woven wrap I’d fallen in love with. I started researching DIY options, and made myself a ring sling and a mei tai and found myself immersed in an excellent community of women on Facebook (all of whom lived thousands of miles away).
Shortly before getting pregnant with Liam, one of those women contacted me and asked for my address. She was going through her stash and decided to “pay it forward” and send a couple of her wraps to mamas who didn’t have one of their own. I was in love. Almost a year later, a few days before my birthday, another mama in that same group messaged me to tell me that she was selling her Easycare 01 rainbow. I was so excited and quickly convinced my husband that it would be the perfect birthday present. I found another local mama who was interested in babywearing and paid forward the wrap that I’d been sent previously.

In order to find that local mama, I posted in our local mom’s Facebook group. I discovered that I was not the only babywearer in town! There were 2 other local moms who loved wearing their babies and keeping them close, and a handful more who were interested in it. Slowly, the interest in babywearing increased and we had a small group of moms and babies who wanted to get together and pet each other’s wrap and have a playdate where we could share our interest. Our group has since snowballed into the Babywearing Of Algoma we know and love. As Recruitment Officer, I still keep my eyes open and am constantly looking for babywearers who aren’t yet benefiting from our group.

Photo courtesy of Meg Deresti
I’m Megan Deresti, wife to Frank, mother to Helen, and Lending Library Coordinator for BWA. Helen is my first baby and at 11 months, she is amazing. Frank and I started wrapping her in a Moby Wrap when she was just a few days old. I loved wrapping, but as the summer approached, I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle the heat of the stretchy material. I mentioned my interest in finding a woven wrap to a friend who just happened to have a woven wrap in her closet that she never really used. She very kindly gave me my first wrap, a Didymos Standard Blue/Nature striped wrap, size 5. I dove in head first. Helen and I spent hours over our bed, in front of a mirror, watching youtube videos.
I proudly and happily wore her for a few months before I became aware of the community. I never really saw any other woven wrap wearers around, and I was always too shy to dive into deeper conversations from the few passing comments I got from other moms. I bought Frank an Ergo after Helen got too big for the Moby and while trying to sell it online (or trade it for a woven), Emily found me and very thoughtfully invited me to an early babywearing meeting. I am so glad she did.
Babywearing and the babywearing community have been a really important part of our lives. We love the closeness and comfort babywearing brings. It makes my attachment parenting instincts so much easier to implement. I didn’t have very many local mom friends before meeting the babywearing community here, these wonderful women have also made cloth diapering and nursing to sleep seem far more mainstream - it has been great to have other moms to troubleshoot with. I joined the board because I really feel like having a lending library is a huge asset to our community. I would never have splurged on a woven wrap had I not been given one to try. Now, 4 wraps in, I know that they are well worth the investment.

My name is Billi and I am the BWA Secretary and manager of this blog.  My first born son, Hudson, is now 3.5 years old, and I have a 6 month old boy named Riel.  

I was very slow to get in to babywearing, but I blame it on a lack of local resources (something BWA is trying to change!).  When Hudson was born, a friend from Southern Ontario (the same friend who got me into cloth diapering and attachment parenting) recommended I get a Moby wrap.  I thought $60 was a lot to pay for a piece of stretchy fabric (little did I know...), so I made one.  It didn't work well (wrong kind of fabric) so I bought a used Moby.  I loved it.  It made bringing Hudson along with me as I went about life very easy.  

Hudson was a very easy going baby and soon learned to crawl and that was it - off he went. When baby number two arrived, I was in for a shock.  Riel is a high needs baby. He needs to be  in my arms at ALL times.  Well this just wasn't going to work.  How was I supposed to take care of my busy 3 year old when I have this non-sleeping, fussy baby in my arms all day and night.  The same crunchy friend that suggested the Moby now suggested I get an Ergo, a carrier she said would make hands free even easier than the Moby.  So I got an Ergo, and had my first taste of confidence being mom of two.  Yeah, I got this.  I could comfort Riel while still having my hands free to make play doh transformers with Hudson.  

The Ergo was quickly sold to fund a Tula (heard it was a better carrier so wanted to try it), and since then several wraps have come and gone, and now here I am a board member of BWA and owner of a considerable stash of baby carriers.  Along the way I've learned so much, but I've had to search it all out.  BWA wants to normalize babywearing here in Algoma, and to provide the resources necessary so that busy parents don't have to spend hours searching for info on the how, where, and whys of wearing your baby. Stay tuned for next weeks feature on BWAs' growing lending library and how you can be a part of it.

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