Sunday, March 25, 2012

Baby Carriers

Gavin here. Babywearing is all the rage! Mommy thought putting me in a sling or carrier would be just the ticket for a one-armed lady like her. Mommy was (again!) wrong, but here's a little about our adventure with slings and carriers. And what an adventure it has been...

First, we tried the Moby wrap. It just looked so awesome and all those videos we watched on YouTube made it look so easy! In reality, it is a very long piece of fabric which requires wrapping and tying and in the end it was hot (people with multiple amputations tend to get hot easily), and mommy needed a lot of help to get it on, and I fussed the entire time I was in it. Luckily we were able to pass it on to a two-handed new mommy who really loves it.

Next, we tried the sling route. We have two: the Balboa Baby one pictured above and a non-adjustable one passed down from another disabled momma & friend (although it hadn't worked for her). Slings are easy to get on and off with one hand, and mommy likes them. I like them for 10-12 minutes. And then I don't. Mommy kept trying different positions, and for a while she thought me sitting up, butt in sling, facing her, would work. Not for long!
Next, we tried the Baby Bjorn. We have just the original but they have fancier versions. Now, you might not know there is all sorts of controversy about these carriers. A lot of the mamas online rail against the Bjorn because it's hard on the wearer's back (Other carriers distribute the weight onto the wearer's hips, and this Bjorn does not). Mommy has found this to be true. It is hard on her back after a while, especially as I get heavier! You may also hear that the Bjorn is a "crotch dangler," and could cause hip dysplasia. Unfortunately this is based more on opinion than actual science, but it does make some sense. Probably only a concern if baby was in it several hours every day, and I have seen an orthopedic surgeon's wife wearing one, but still... Anyway, one thing we love about the Baby Bjorn is that mommy can put it on, and get me in and out totally by herself. The way it fastens and unfastens is great for someone with one arm. I like sitting in it, mostly in the outward facing position (also controversial!), but I still won't tolerate more than 30-45 minutes in there.

In the Bjorn (in my bear suit!) on a windy TX day

After hearing about all the Bjorn controversy, mommy wanted to try something else. She ordered the Mei Tai BabyHawk. What a beautiful carrier! But she didn't read closely enough because it wasn't until it arrived that she realized it tied on, and tying anything behind her back is a no-go, especially with me up front squirming! She sent that one back right away. It was really pretty, though.

Next up, we ordered the Beco Gemini. We chose this one based on great reviews online, and style (of course - I'm a very stylish baby). It was the only ergonomic, non crotch dangler that offered outward facing (google that controversy if you really want to know) positioning. Other contenders were the Ergo, Beco Butterfly, and Boba (all get great reviews), but none of these allow baby to face outward. The Beco Gemini can also be worn on the back, but that seems unrealistic from a wheelchair! Once it arrived, mommy eagerly unwrapped it and prepared to put it on (who needs instructions, right?). But she couldn't get any of the buckles undone. So weird! After she read the instructions, she realized these were special safety buckles which take TWO hands to release! Really? Really???  Even though she believed this would not work, she put it on (with help) anyway to see how it felt. She said it was so much more comfortable than any other carrier! All of my weight distributed on her hips instead of her back! Nice! I liked it fine - same as the Bjorn - I'll tolerate 30-45 minutes in it. We eventually found a work-around to the buckle issue - mommy can buckle the carrier all up, loosen all the straps all the way, and slide it on over her head. Then she partially tightens the straps, slips me in from the top, then fully tightens all the straps. Not so easily accomplished when I'm crying or fussy! We are working on this one handed technique for undoing the buckles, too.

Mommy is currently too tired and too broke to try any more of these baby carriers (they'll run you $50-$200 new). But, should she get a second wind, she'd like to try the Baby K'Tan, which is like the Moby wrap but simpler.

Overall, I would rate the Beco Gemini as the best carrier we've tried, but it has unique challenges for those with one hand. The bottom line is that I don't love any carriers or slings. What I love is to be held "old school." Sorry mommy, your one arm is mine!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Crib with a Door

I've had a request to blog about the crib we have. I say have, rather than use, because we haven't yet gotten much of a chance to use the crib just yet. I've napped in it a couple times, but I still sleep in the co-sleeper at night in mommy's room. The crib brand is "Babee Tenda" (I know, right?), and the feature that is so great for wheelchair users is the door in the side. It's not the same as a drop-side, but an actual door. At first mommy thought it might seem like a dog kennel, but it doesn't. It's supposed to convert to a toddler bed.

This crib is still tough to use with one hand (mommy has to unlatch the top and bottom separately and it would be easier to do them both at once). The crib sits pretty low, so mommy has to lower the seat of her power wheelchair to get me in and out. I'm guessing I can get her to actually crawl in with me and tuck me in! It stinks that this is the only crib like this on the market because it's severely overpriced! Check for occasional price drops and craigslist (just don't get murdered, please).

 It does clean up pretty nice:
 (Don't worry, the bumper's just for show. It's mesh, but mommy will take it out before I sleep in there)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Nursing is my favorite activity, hands down! Speaking of hands, the fact that mommy only has one presents certain challenges during breastfeeding. Mommy would encourage others who are able and interested to breastfeed - it sure beats fixing a bottle in the middle of the night! We've been using several products to assist us. First, we use the Arm's Reach Co-Sleeper (mini). This makes it so mommy can reach me easily at night, but not share her bed with me (although, many times I have managed to weasel my way into the big bed)! Generally this has been a good product, but we've had trouble finding sheets for it, and it doesn't fold/unfold as easily as we'd like, so we've mostly just left it set up in the bedroom.

Another big help for feeding has been nursing pillows! That's right - plural. We use two different types of pillows. Mainly at home, we use the ever-popular Boppy. It's great on the couch or in an armchair. It works in the wheelchair only if there is a table in front of us. We need an additional pillow to put under which ever side we're on, though, because it's meant to go on a lap, and well, technically, we don't have a lap! We keep other pillow in the car - it's called My Brest Friend (I know, right?). This is a much firmer pillow that actually straps around mommy's back and has back support. The one we have has a buckle, and I wonder if the one pictured here with velcro would be simpler... uh, faster (when I'm hungry, I'm hungry)! Anyway, it's great for nursing in the back seat of the car (which happens more than mommy cares to admit). And it's ideal to use from a wheelchair. These pillows are essential to prevent mommy's one arm from getting very tired and numb from holding a heavy baby.

Finally, there's breast pumping. Mommy pumps milk every day at work so I have bottles ready for the next day. We use the Medela Pump in Style (thanks, Aunt Bridget!). The pump and supplies are pretty standard, but mommy found the need for a hands-free mechanism to be essential! Soooo, she has to wear the silliest contraption EVER! Makes her look like a dairy cow/clown. But it gets the job done. Now, if that janitor at the hospital would just figure out that "session in progress" could mean a breast pumping session!!!
Probably the toughest thing has been working on mommy's coordination to stay covered up in public. Personally, I prefer to nurse without a cover in all locations across America, so whenever possible I squirm and thrash to try to reveal those beautiful fountains to the entire world!

Welcome to our blog!

Hello and welcome to our blog! I'm Gavin, and today I turned 4 months old. Mommy and I decided to start this blog to talk about parenting with a disability, inspired mostly by the amount of GEAR I require! You see, mommy didn't know much about what babies need to begin with, and every disability is different, so what works for other mommies with disabilities didn't necessarily work for her.  So we figured it could be helpful to write about our experiences. Let us know what you think!