Way too low

That didn’t take long.

I’ve only published five blog posts so far and already I got my first negative email about one of my pictures! I think that must be some kind of blogger milestone, right? So I feel honored!

 

It wasn’t a very harsh or abusive email, thankfully. More just condescending and critical. I’ve been active on internet discussion groups and forums long enough to know how nuts people can get. Over things nobody would normally use much energy on at all. I’ve learned a lot about what level I’m comfortable with sharing myself, although I can see that with a blog this comfort level might end up stretching and shifting and I’ll have a new learning curve to surmount as I deal with feedback (aka criticism) on more personal levels. But I like the discussions brought forth by sharing thoughts, for me  it’s part of the point of writing a blog. Putting thoughts out there and hearing what other people think about the subject. Dialogue. So it doesn’t shock me to get a negative email, I just wasn’t expecting it so soon. I’m not naive enough to think it will be the last, or the worst! Bring it on, I’m ready to hit delete! 😉 (Or maybe I’ll answer, if I think there’s something constructive and worthwhile about continuing the conversation.)

 

The negative email I got was because of this picture:

 

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In which, according to the email, my baby is too low, I’m wearing the baby carrier wrong, I’m promoting unsafe babywearing practices, and I should have just used a stroller instead! Ok, I added that last part. The whole email was just “educating” me on why I was wearing my baby wrong and why I should take more responsibility to show babywearing in a better way. Ok.

 

First point, my baby is too low. Her head should be “Close enough to kiss” which you can see it isn’t. Well, ahem, she’s being carried at this height for the simple reason that this is where my boobs are. My baby breastfeeds, on the beach, in the house, with a mouse, in the air, and everywhere. This is the beauty of babywearing for me. I can meet her needs with breastfeeding while exploring an awesome magical beach like this. Amazing. But it requires me to wear her “too low”, like this, so she’s where the boobs are. Yep.

 

Next point, I’m wearing the carrier wrong. The waist belt should be up around my waist, not resting on my hips. And the shoulder straps should be tightened more. This is of course related to the comment about wearing my baby too low. And my answer again is this carrier positioning is mostly about putting the baby at boob level. When I’m not breastfeeding and I’m walking around more actively I usually do tighten up the shoulder straps more and pull the baby in tighter to my body to prevent her from swinging back and forth which is uncomfortable for both me and her. But I don’t always bring the waist belt up higher and I don’t agree that wearing it down on my hips is Wrong. I like transferring some of the baby’s weight down to my hips and carrying it there. That’s comfortable to me. I see this a lot online, people critiquing other people’s baby carriers based on their own bodies and preferences and not being open for the fact that varying the carry position can be both more comfortable for some people. Not to mention the fact that if we use baby carriers a lot it can be a good idea to vary which type and how we wear them so we activate and use different muscles in different ways. Better for our bodies.

 

I’m all for babywearing safety. Unsafe things include anything where the baby’s airways can be compromised. A sloppy wrap job which lets the baby slump and curl down so their chin is down on their chest. Babies carried in “cradle position” where the chin again can get pressed down to the chest and block their airflow. Poorly designed “bag slings” where the baby can roll inwards so their face can be pressed in to the adults’s torso, leading to possible suffocation. Jackets and sweatshirts closed around and over the baby’s head, obstructing airflow.

 

A small baby slumping down in a front-pack carrier of this type can also be dangerous. And that’s what my emailer tried to teach me and said I shouldn’t “promote”. Because wearing the carrier this loose could lead to a small baby slumping down and not getting correct support for their body or airways. I must say my first (somewhat sarcastic I admit) reaction was to thank this person for giving me so much credit, to think I could actually be promoting anything and influencing anyone with this blog at this point, since I have about 10 regular readers (half of which are my family).

 

But anyway, I agree, if a very small baby is worn in a front-pack carrier like this, and the baby’s body isn’t fully supported with for example an infant insert or another solution, and especially if the carrier is worn loose and low, there is a risk that the baby will slide down, curl up, the airways can be compromised, it can be bad for their spine and hips, and they can even fall out the sides of the carrier if the positioning is really bad and the parents don’t pay enough attention. So yeah, scary.

 

*But that’s not what’s happening here.* In this picture my baby is a year old, with excellent control over her head, torso, and legs. I’m also an experienced babywearer, this being my fifth child and probably my 500th baby carrier. (Haha, yes, I’m serious. I ran a babywearing shop for 8 years, I’ve tried most of them.) I know when I need to tighten up the carrier because the situation demands better balance and control, and I know when I can loosen up and let her hang a bit (down where the boobs hang, I just like writing that). I agree that from this one picture you can’t tell anything about my experience level or other specifics of the situation, but I didn’t write that post to teach anyone babywearing skills or “promote” babywearing in any way. When I do teach babywearing I firmly believe in teaching people the Hows, and then the Whys, and then letting them tweak and adapt the skills so they work best for their lifestyle.  If someone looks at this picture of me wearing my one-year old “too low” and then says “hey! that means I can put my newborn in the same carrier and adjust it exactly like that and go stand on a beach!” I can’t personally take responsibility for that. There’s unfortunately a lot of stupid in the world, but we can only combat that with information. Getting good information out there so people can make decisions that are appropriate for their own circumstances. Babywearing can give people great freedom and let them include their babies in so many wonderful experiences. But as it becomes more popular it also develops more and more “rules” which can end up scaring people off from even trying. There has to be a middle ground of giving people the information they need to wear their baby safely while still being able to trust in common sense to adapt to their own specific needs and situation. Yeah, maybe I should write some blog posts on Hows and Whys of babywearing, I do have lots of thoughts and ideas about babywearing, as may be clear at this point. But there are already tons of resources for this information online. I hope anyone who feels the incredible influence and inspiration emanating from my amazing photo (haha) will google a bit and find those resources and that they won’t base their whole babywearing practice on one picture they saw on a blog. One can hope.

 

Those were my thoughts and reaction to the email I received. I’m gonna keep posting pictures of myself, probably babywearing pictures too, and I guarantee there will be many more imperfect situations involved. I’m generally quite imperfect. And dialogue is great, I look forward to it. But my answer in many cases will be this. I do the best I can with the information I have. I make things work for me and I take responsibility for my life and my children. And I trust that those around me do the same.

 

Bonus! I was looking for something else and found this picture. Bad (yet still safe) babywearing at its best! Hint: Boob location is involved in the positioning here too. 🙂

 

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What I did on my Summer Vacation

What I did on my Summer Vacation

Social media sucks. It wastes all our time and cheapens our interactions. It addicts our kids and ruins our attention spans. And even more serious things like controlling the public discourse through censorship and giving bigots an easy way to spew their ideas. (OK, I see the contradiction there, I don’t want censorship, but do we have to make it so damn easy for the assholes?) So yeah, social media is problematic.

But then sometimes it results in this:

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The small light gray tent down to the left was ours. Drone photo by Petter Formo.

People travelling together from all over the country, taking a chance on meeting what’s essentially a big group of strangers.

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People who’ve met online, chatted and shared and questioned and sometimes argued, meeting in real life, finally.

People bringing Facebook connections to life in the real world, connections based on common values of trust, compassion, and finding harmony with and on our planet.

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Most of the people who were there. Photo by Marie Vatne, Bygdefotografen.

A parenting group. One of the thousands (millions, who knows) on Facebook. The group isn’t part of an official organization in any way, just a chat group. But then it becomes more than that. People from the group find ways to get together in real life when they can. Smaller local gatherings for those who are lucky enough to live near each other, and a larger gathering during the summer. This past summer one of the families in the group said hey, we’ve got room for lots of people up here, come to us!

So we did!

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And let me tell you about this place! The Hjertefølger family lives here. (Hjertefølger means “Heart Follower” in Norwegian.) It’s on an island called Sandhornøya which you reach by taking a ferry from the city of Bodø. This is Northern Norway, the land of the Midnight Sun, and the Polar Night. The house is built with a material called cob and the whole house is inside a big glass dome. A shining transparent igloo which creates a warm and tranquil space inside. They don’t just have a greenhouse for their garden, they live inside one, nurturing and growing plants and children and dreams all in one big magical jumble.

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As you can imagine, the house and the family have drawn lots of interest from the media both in Norway and internationally. You can read about them here (in English) and also here (in Norwegian). You can also read about their house and ideas here on their own blog (Norwegian) and there’s a lovely short documentary film about them you can watch here. They run retreats and do workshops on permaculture and vegan food and cob-building, so you can go to one of those if you’re in the neighborhood. I would if I was!

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I mean, look at this place.
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Those colors.
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From the beach looking back at the house. Just wow.

And for four days I did get to be there. For four days we got to hang out and recharge in one of the most peaceful, gorgeous places on Earth. Thirty or so families, at least twice that number of children, and the whole experience was amazingly harmonious and conflict-free. I mean, 60 kids running around camping and playing, you might expect chaos. But there was none. Instead there was fellowship and community and respect and good spirits. For a few days we got to experience what it would be like to live in that mythical village we all hear it takes to raise a child. Well, mythical for me at least, and for so many of us. Yes, we have caring people around us who help take care of our kids, but our society is so compartmentalized and institutionalized, there are too many distancing and isolating elements for a real village feeling to develop in most of the neighborhoods here where we live now. But for four days we got to be there, and feel how it could be. I’m so grateful I got the chance to be part of it!

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My daughter, also amazed at what she was experiencing.

 

So much of what social media gives us is negative. More input, more stress, more stuff, more greed. We don’t need that, but we do need more of this. More community. More magic. More coming together. Peace and love and rainbows. I call more of this to my life. I will build more of this into my life, through a web of internet connections or in a real-life village somewhere someday. We start small, gather and share, and then, we fix the world!

Well, a girl can dream anyway.

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A girl, dreaming.

 

Addendum:

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This absolutely awesome full rainbow over the dome actually happened while we were all there. It was breathtaking. I took some crappy pictures with my phone, but they turned out crappy. So I’m sharing this photo taken by the Heart Follower father, Benjamin Hjertefølger.