By my calculations there are 23 days until my “baby” turns 3. This assumes you are reading this on the day it was published. Either way my youngest is almost or just turned 3 years old. A fiercely independent preschooler who from September will get 15 hours a week free childcare and who in 17 months will be starting school. Yet, he is carried almost daily, although these are becoming fewer and fewer.
Isaac has been walking since he was 16 months old. For those of you about to say “late walker because you carried him” think again. I didn’t start walking till I was almost 16 months either. I don’t carry him because he can’t walk but because there are not enough hours in the day to dawdle at 3 year old speed. It makes it easier to walk a puppy who wants to go one way and a 5 year old who wants to go another. For the school run having a sling means Isaac is not overwhelmed by hundreds of people bigger than him.
He sees everything from Mummy height. Isaac has never been the easiest of babies. As a newborn he would not settle unless in my arms. He was diagnosed with reflux at 6 weeks so having him upright helped ease his symptoms and gave us some relief from the constant pained crying. At four months he was hospitalised with bronchiolitis and wanted his mummy close. He continued to be a sickly baby; slow to gain weight, constantly coughing and never sleeping. Being able to carry him as a baby, a toddler and now as a pre-schooler has helped me stay sane. In December we finally got a reason for his ‘failure to thrive’, (yes they still use that term):
Obstructive Sleep Apnoea. Mummy’s instinct was proven right. It was a long road but a diagnosis lets you look for solutions. For Isaac this meant surgery to have his tonsils and adenoids removed. With oxygen levels falling to mid-80s it was classed by the ENT consultant we were referred to as Urgent. Isaac had his surgery just 8 days from seeing the specialist after we were offered a cancellation.
Once I had sorted the practicalities, like sorting child care for my eldest, my mind was drawn to what sling to take with us. We knew we would be in for at least one night, potentially more. Taking a sling was not a frivolous thing I knew it would be an important survival mechanism. Before his operation he was hungry and thirsty but nil by mouth he was getting upset. After the operation he felt sore and confused by the anaesthetic. That night he was tired but scared because of the unfamiliar surroundings. Each time he asked for the sling. He saw them as comforting, when not being carried he wrapped himself up in them like a blanket. They let me meet his need to be held, encompassed and secured far longer than I could have done in arms. He knew he was safe. It meant he could relax and go to sleep, beginning the recovery process. As he healed slings continued to provide him with comfort. He was the one asking for his “ing”. Without them I am sure he would have been upset for longer.
As the opportunities we have to sling it dwindle I will treasure every carry, every stolen kiss and shared joke even more. They are for me and Isaac priceless and can never be replaced.
Rachel Coy | North East Sling Library