Ergo is My Co-Pilot

3 03 2011

Stored in my small brain are about five, half-posts.  At least three are tangentially related to attachment.  So when Claudia said, “do a post about attachment”, I shifted through the lyrics from 1970’s songs, the list of every time my husband ever really pissed me off, the names of all the people to whom I owe thank-you notes all the important information in my head to pick what I thought was most relevant.  At the same time I started reading the stories of the over-achievers amazing women who already posted and linked.  Those women really threw me off.  Because the last thing, and I mean, THE. VERY. LAST. THING. I would want to do in this fabulous, blogging, adoption community is sound smug.  So I feel I have very little to offer.  Because when it comes to attachment we have been so, so lucky.

And, yes, 10 months into our journey I am still nervous.  And, yes,  I still wish someone would come to my house, give us “the test” and proclaim once-and-for-all that we are perfectly attached.  But from what I can tell (the I who could not handle reading the attachment books because they freaked me out too much) things have gone really, really well here.

Many of the participants in this conversation that Claudia started, have said they feel uncomfortable talking about attachment because it seems so personal.  I too have felt uncomfortable talking about it, but only because I am honestly afraid to curse it.  I am honestly afraid that the fact that I could not handle reading any adoption based attachment books will eventually come back to bite me.

Why have we been so lucky?  I believe it has EVERYTHING to do with Little Dude.  His particular story seems to contain most of the elements that add up to easier attachment in a new family.  I would love to tell you the details, but Claudia told me I couldn’t (in this post).  And I do everything Claudia says, especially when she speaks the truth about being a better adoptive parent.  So, let us just say that I believe the stars aligned so that his attachment would be easier than most.

In the end, I realize that knowing the details of Little Dude’s story wouldn’t necessarily help any PAPs anyway.  I mean, how many people would turn down a referral because the circumstances MIGHT make attachment harder?  In extreme cases yes, but hopefully those kids are already being put in a “waiting child” category by a knowledgeable agency.  And in the maybe/maybe not cases, I doubt PAPs would say no.  Because all adoption is a risk (as is child-birth).  So even if I told my kid’s story, I would only be betraying his privacy for no real gain.

What I can talk about, is what has helped me really, really feel I KNOW my son.  And for me that feels like my half of the attachment.

First, we co-sleep.  I LOVE CO-SLEEPING.  I would get a t-shirt with this slogan if, well, you can imagine how it could be misinterpreted.  So I guess I will just shout it on the internet (nothing bad can come from that).  We did have one attachment hiccup last fall.  I posted about it here and here.  Based on how it played out, I think it had to do with three nights of not co-sleeping.  That is not to say that I believe co-sleeping is a necessity for attachment.  But it seems to be for Little Dude.  In fact I got the distinct impression from the nannies in Ethiopia, that Little Dude was a crib hopper, perfecting the art of co-sleeping long before we came into his life.

Second, when Little Dude first came home, I “wore” him a ton.  My daughter, PJ, is only 11 months older than Little Dude.  That means she was 24-months-old (he was 13-months) when he came home.  My Ergo is not just an attachment tool, it is also  a toddler management device and a public safety necessity.

In the beginning, when out in public, I wore Little Dude on my left hip.  That way he could see in front or behind me and I was still hands-free and able to control gently guide my daughter while getting things done.  These days you are more likely to see him in the Ergo on my back, or in the stroller, or even running half-a-mile ahead of me walking by my side.  And while I use the Ergo less, if I am driving, look over and notice I don’t have it in the car, I feel panicked.  If we are doing errands and things aren’t going well, I know the Ergo is the best possible solution.

Of course my car is always this clean. Isn’t yours?

It wasn’t until he had been home two-months, that I discovered an even more important use of the Ergo.  We were at my parents’ house.  I was at my wit’s end trying to get both kids to sleep without SAG’s help.  Little Dude was having none of the rocking chair, so I tried “dancing” him to sleep in the Ergo.  It worked.  For this I wear him front and center.  And since we developed this habit, last July, I fully admit that I am in no hurry to ever give it up.

At first I thought this was a just a really good trick to get my wild man to fall asleep without having to drive him around in the car (yes, I have been THAT MOTHER before).   But eventually I discovered it was the most amazing 15 minutes of APPROPRIATE physical intimacy that I can have with my non-stop toddler.   Especially if I control my own racing mind.

When I stop thinking about my next blog post to do list and just concentrate on my breath, this time with Little Dude becomes peaceful, quiet and a chance to really tune in to him.  I now know exactly how he falls asleep,  when he twitches, when his breathing changes, when he is relaxed enough that I can put him in the bed without him waking up.  Originally this knowledge was a tool for ME – how quickly can I get this thing off and go eat my lunch do something productive?  And now it is something completely different.  I get to smell his hair.  I get to hold his feet.  Sometimes he closes his eyes and giggles.  Sometimes he grabs my cheeks, pulls me in for a kiss, pushes me away and repeats.

I don’t remember falling in love with my bio-daughter.  Certainly I was in love with the IDEA of her before she was born.  Exactly like I was in love with the IDEA of Little Dude before we first met.  But I was not in love with HER the minute she was born (thank goodness someone warned me about this ahead of time or I would have been really freaked out.)

The bond, the attachment, the love, I have for both of my kids is something that grew over time.  For me, physical intimacy played a big role in that growth.  With a nursing newborn that physical intimacy can not be avoided.  With an active toddler (especially the second active toddler in the home) the full body contact doesn’t happen nearly as often.  Co-sleeping and especially the Ergo (wearing him in quiet times as well as when I need to keep tabs on him) have been our equivalent of nursing.

While I feel like I should end this post in a more lyrical way, my journalistic style always forces it’s way through.  If you are considering wearing your child (and I hope you are) make sure you get the RIGHT carrier.  I am 43 with a history of back problems.  For me it was important to have the type of carrier that distributes the child’s weight off of the shoulders and on to the hips.  I personally have an Ergo (pretty sure you knew that by now, but I am all about clear communication).  I believe there are at least two other types of carriers that are similar.  These carriers are not cheap (but I am).

I actually invested in the Ergo when we just had PJ and wearing her in our other infant style, front-pack (where she could face forward) just wasn’t working for me anymore.  Honestly, I initially thought we had wasted our money.  We had frame backpacks that we could wear her in when going on our longer, daily, dog walks.  And I didn’t like that in the Ergo she faced inward and couldn’t see as much of the world.  As she got bigger though, I began to see the value.  And now, with Little Dude in our lives, I believe the Ergo would have been worth the investment at 10 times the price (but then we could not have afforded our agency fees).

Just one more reason I can never get a divorce – my inability to do self-portraits in a mirror.

(And as an additional plug for Ergo, another PAP with my agency wrote to them about the Ethiopian care center’s need for more carriers, and they donated quite a few.)

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12 responses

4 03 2011
Julie

All hail the Ergo! And the Co-sleeping too. Great post. Thanks for sharing.

4 03 2011
rebekah

I used the Ergo with our second adoption, third child, who is 4. She resisted the first 10 minutes or so and then she herself realized the benefit. The Ergo is magic.

We used it with our first adoption too – when he was a baby. It is the most amazing thing. I can’t believe they haven’t put that other front carrier out of business, I can’t recall the name but it’s the carrier that hurts. a lot. Between the Ergo and slings, what else is there a need for, really?

I’m also mulling an attachment post but I think I’m running out of time – didn’t she say within a week? I’ll go check. Mine would be so so long.

I’d love for you to write one in a few years. That’s where you’ll really see the fruits of your work now, plus, that’s where you’ll see other stuff come up and consider bringing out that Ergo again.

4 03 2011
Shonda

Great great post. I love my Ergo, but this post makes me want to go home and use it more! We reluctantly bought this carrier at the advice of lots of AP’s. I thought ‘I’ve survived three bio kids without this thing, this is probably my last baby, it will be a big waste of money.’ But, the use of it in the airports alone made it worth the money. So so comfortable, even for chunks like mine!

4 03 2011
mindy

I sometimes think about those families who adopted children and chose not to co-sleep. It baffles me for several reasons: 1. if the social workers tell you to do it, and mine did, then it’s probably sage advice. 2. why not wake up to smelly little breath in your face everyday? that, to me, is heaven. 3. how the heck do people attach at all without co-sleeping? i don’t get it. We’ve had our share of attachment difficulties but I can’t imagine how intense those same difficulties would have been without co-sleeping. End of rant.

Same with baby wearing. How do people attach without physically attaching?

Great post. I’ve never been to your blog before. It’s great. Thanks to Caudia I am here. Your little dude is adorable.

4 03 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Welcome, Mindy. I have been reading your blog for awhile now and living vicariously through you on your most recent travels.
I am glad you found me.

4 03 2011
leigh

Definitely do not get divorced. That last picture is horrible.

But the others are terrif. 😉

Great post.

5 03 2011
Meg B

Oh those pics are adorable. I am adding an Ergo to my list of things to purchase as we Wait for M and M to get here. I have forewarned my husband about the co=sleeping. We currently have a queen sized bed and may invest in a king. My husband is 6’3” and it may get crowded with a 4 year old and toddler!

5 03 2011
claudia

What about if Claudia told you to send her a cheque for ONE MILLION DOLLARS? Huh? HUH? I’ll be watching my mailbox, SFM. Money where your mouth is, girly. (Literally. Ha).

More seriously – I am SO conflicted about how unused our slings are. It’s the absolute number one thing that I was just determined to do, and we just pretty much never did it at all. I blame it on the fact that tere are two of them, but we need to be more proactive about using them when there are two grownups at home. Because they aren’t helping our bonding when they are shoved in a cupboard, are they? No, they are not. Thanks for reminding me.

By the way, I just LOVED your journalistic ending. Rather than a sweeping metaphor about how the ergo turns you into fellow travellers (or some such nonsense) – make sure you get something decent that’s not going to hurt your back. Now that’s good solid advice that will be helping people LONG after the metaphors fade. (And by fade, I mean fade into the dim misty dark oblivion of the night of unconsciousness, of course).

One last thing – I just love how happy you two look together 🙂

5 03 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Claudia, we use the Ergo in the house often. While mine are NOT twins, at 11-months-apart, at times they are twin-like. Both of them want to be in the Ergo – at least if the other is already in it. So, I pop one in, set the timer for five-minutes and start to vacuum. Timer goes off, switch which kid is in the Ergo, and move on to the next chore. My kids climb out of pack-n-plays, hate being stuck in their high-chairs and in general have a very hard time playing independently if we are home. Strapping one to my back allows me to vacuum (in a half-assed way) at least. Of course if I get out the vacuum, Little Dude gets out his ride-on car and plays bumber cars with the vacuum.

5 03 2011
Tonggu Momma

I have an Ergo. I just purchased it a couple of months ago. I did babywearing with the Tongginator, too, but I used a contraption created by An Evil One. It caused all manner of back pain and assorted awfulness. Yet still I wore it. Because I am stubborn like that.

I am so excited about my Ergo. I love it already. In fact, I just may have to pull it out of the closet (next! next! next! for referral – sorry, just HAD to throw that out there AGAIN) and kiss it. I love it just that much. I can’t wait to use it.

8 03 2011
Scooping it Up

i haven’t even read it yet but i love the title. we have a religious conviction of the Ergo as well in attaching with our little guy.

8 03 2011
Scooping it Up

to Mindy (now that I’ve read the whole post) we never could figure out how to co sleep. I wish we had. He slept better in his crib and I could never figure out how to keep the baby safe (aka, not crawling over us and dying by falling into the floor which was very far away.)

i wish i’d tried harder, but he slept so damn well in his crib and we were exhausted from having his brother in the hospital for the first four months he was home.

it’s not always obvious HOW to co sleep. maybe that should be the next topic for adoption bloggerdom. anyone??

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