Thursday, January 29, 2015

Babywearing at Work

Today's post is written by a new addition to my marketing team, and Greeter at our Southside Meetings, Sarah Russell.  I am so excited to have her on board and I know you will all love reading her voice too.  Thank you Sarah for sharing your unique, and may I add, incredibly cool Day in the Life!

 Babywearing at Work
Our babywearing story began as many do. A cranky, crying, clingy (yet adorable) newborn and a few traumatizing weeks… Finally, I dug out the stretchy wrap some cousin bought off our registry. A couple of confused knots in the endless length of fabric later… and… BAM! Suddenly there’s a happy, cuddling baby snuggled into my chest like it was meant to be! As our little man got bigger we moved into the world of wrapping (I have an unhealthy relationship with pretty fabric) and I quickly started to find new places to wear our boy! Target run? Easy peasy! Eye exam for momma? Little man rocks a Robins Hip Carry the whole time! We taught Daddy to wrap too! I quickly started thinking about wearing my son at work, and that’s the story I’m telling today.
First, a bit more exposition… I am a full time college professor in a theatre department. I focus on costume design, teach classes and run the costume studio where we build the costumes for the department productions. I work in a very small, tight-knit department that is a lot like a big dysfunctional family. My husband also teaches a class part-time and we commute together three days a week. I have a private office that is adjacent to the costume studio. This is the perfect storm for babywearing! Here’s what our experience has been like.
When we decided to try wearing our little man at work, we thought about the logistics and practicality. I don’t wear on days when I am teaching. He’s cute and can be a distraction for my students… Luckily, my classes are always scheduled on Tuesday and Thursday so those are the days the kid gets shipped off to my very awesome mother-in-law. I knew that I would mostly be wearing him in the costume studio so I planned ahead and created a special area just for him. He has a pack n play with toys and books to keep him happy if he just wants down. I mostly wrap him on my back. He enjoys looking over my shoulder while I sew on the machines or pin fabric onto a dress form.  He especially likes costume fittings in the dressing rooms because of all the mirrors! When I need to sit at my desk and grade he is able to crawl around in my office and we have a changing station set up since it’s private. My husband also wraps so he wears him as well if I need to really focus fully on a project.  

Having him at work has been extremely rewarding for me, but I can also see how it’s helped him grow and learn. The biggest improvement has been in our nursing. I was very adamant that I would breastfeed as long as I could. When our son was born with a tongue-tie, we struggled for a long time establishing a latch. He wasn’t gaining enough weight and we had to supplement with formula to help him catch back up. I found that wearing him helped to keep my supply up and soon we were able to wean him from the formula altogether! Having him at work and being able to nurse him in my office still makes me feel proud of how far we’ve come.
I really have found very few situations where wearing him would be frowned on. We’ve wrapped in college meetings and faculty senate meetings. I wear him during long dress rehearsals. I wear him over to the campus center to grab lunch with students. I wear him across to the business office to turn in employee timesheets. He’s becoming quite the campus celebrity! He loves being social and the students and staff like having him around. Many students come by the costume studio for a “baby-break” when they’ve had a particularly difficult day.
Now, wearing at work is not for every family. I am very lucky to have a unique position that allows me to have my son with me three days a week. I have strong advocates in my academic colleagues that support my family and I. I also have a very happy, rarely fussy baby who hardly ever has tantrums. We waited until he was three months old, so out of the tricky floppy newborn phase. We’d also been wrapping for a while so I was comfortable throwing him up on my back quickly over a concrete floor (remember the days when we practiced over a bed?) There are always going to be complications (cleaning up a blowout is an unusual activity for office hours) but for our family the benefits have been incredibly rewarding!

--Sarah Russell
Blogger and Greeter, BWI of Cleveland


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