He’s growing. Really, really, faster than we can keep up growing. He’s over 6kg, and 60cm long! His fingers are finding his nappy wraps and his feet have a mind of his own. His neck lifts his head fully off the floor to sing with his penguin and in-between blowing bubbles, he’s quickly learning how to enunciate sounds. He’s 2 and a half months old – how on earth did that happen?
Raising a baby in Turkey can be tough. My way of doing things 9 times out of 10 is different to the Turkish norm, 5 times out of 10 is a complete affront to the norm, and 3 times out of 10 is so far left-field that people don’t know how to respond. Today was the first day I braved the bus and metro babywearing on my own. It was an adventure as I knew it would be, but felt better than I’d expected it to.
The first time I put baby in the carrier, he was so small he disappeared inside. You couldn’t see his head or his feet and if I’d have put a dress on over, I’d have looked no different to a pregnant me. Today, in the mall, on the bus and walking on the cobbles, his head bobbed as big eyes soaked up the new world around him, his feet wiggled in excitement at the all new stimuli and it was unmistakably a baby in the wrap.
To wear my baby was a decision made in the same vein as cotton nappying: I believe it is beneficial to my baby and to our lives. To me, it makes perfect sense. A baby needs reassurance, comfort and affection. Everything around them is new – the only constant, the only instant recognition for them comes from the smell of the people who care for them. Holding your baby close allows them to feel this security as their world opens up. I live in a city where an extra five million people above capacity live; it’s crowded. Buses are crowded, streets are crowded and shops are narrow. It’s not a city conducive to pram pushing. We have a pram: I insisted on it. A large part of our life is spent walking for hours along the coast – long, flat promenades, perfect pram pushing territory. But for the other part of our lives, the more practical part, a carrier was obviously going to be a necessity.
The ability to bend my head and sniff his scent is priceless. Has anyone marketed that? Babywearing: bend and sniff! I’m sure it would sell! I had no idea how I would value the closeness of carrying my baby next to my body as a bonding aspect. I love the way he nestles into me. I love how he relaxes as soon as his legs are threaded in. I could spend all day staring at his ear and that adorable roll of neck fat. The up/down rhythmic movement of his chest, the warmth that permeates my skin, the priceless way his hands slide around me in a baby-sized hug. Babywearing is so much more than an easy way to get the housework done – for me, it’s essential in my bonding time with M.
Babywearing in Turkey – in Istanbul, at least – is definitely in the 3 out of ten camp: it’s outside the bubble of normality. I have on;y ever seen one other baby being carried and that was a foreign woman too. It’s just not in this city’s culture; ironically as Anatolian women have traditionally wrapped babies to their skin. People stare, and people comment. But no more so than they do on any other aspect of the “weird,” unconventional ways I’m raising our boy. The worst I’ve had is a woman who warned me I’d kill the baby in “that thing”..she seemed unnerved but reassured when a week later that same baby was alive and kicking his legs out of the same, killer wrap. Babywearing rocks and I’m trying to share the love – expectant Turkish friends are being given baby gifts consisting of wraps right, left and centre and I’m hoping by the time we’re on baby number 3 (inshallah), there’ll be more than one baby being worn on an Istanbul bus.
So, I’m sold on the concept and I’m ready to explore. We have a Close Carrier right now – a loose structured carrier, but I’m ready to branch out. A ring sling first, I think. Or…?