Wednesday, September 28, 2016

My Journey as a Babywearing Educator

My first born came on Valentine’s Day in 2010, 4 weeks later I purchased a locally made ring sling that I would use daily. Then I needed to launder it...after a few washings where I did not have a carrier, I purchased a second ring sling, and now I had two ring slings that I could use daily. Over the next several months, I picked up a buckle carrier, a pouch, a mei tai, and a stretchy wrap. There were so many options and I wanted to try them all!
2010: The Valentine baby who started it all!
In 2011, now that I had mastered the stretchy wrap, I wanted to tackle that complicated carrier - the woven wrap. At the time our community had one local In Real Life “wrapper”, but she worked and her kids were pretty much grown out of baby carriers, so she was a rare sighting. I spent months discussing what I should get with members of (TBW). Finally in September, I bought a used Didymos Cologrown Waves, size 7, from a fellow TBW member, a super sweet mama in Southeast PA. Then in October, I bought a used Vatanai Teesta, size 3, and I was HOOKED!!! These carriers were so beautifully versatile! I joined Carry of the Week (COTW) challenges on TBW to learn how to use the wraps. I talked my husband into buying me a mystery box from Birdie’s Room - three wraps picked for you by your description of what you like. Now I had wraps made from different fibers and in different sizes.
2011: First back carry
in my first woven wrap ~
taken with an old school
digital camera
In 2012, I continued to participate in COTW challenges on TBW. In February, I gained a squishy new wrappee. I started experimenting with ways to use carriers to get both my 2 year old and new baby up and down stairs and in and out of the house. While playing around with wraps and sharing experiences with fellow babywearers on TBW, I developed the Tied at Shoulder Front Cross Carry tie off from a Ruck (or RRR) Tied at Shoulder...I was officially a babywearing geek. I became the local IN REAL LIFE “wrapper” in my community and began having people over to play with my growing variety of carriers and began teaching what I knew. I wanted more.
2012: A Tandem Carry with one wrap
and introduction of the TASFCC ~
Tied At Shoulder Front Cross Carry
At the end of 2012, the leaders of our local Babywearing Group felt that they and their children had aged out of the group, and they were ready to pass leadership on. And this was my opportunity for more! In the beginning of 2013, I became co-leader of our local group and resident specialist in wraps and mei ties (I still had much to learn about mei ties!). Because I was now teaching in a formal setting, I felt that I should have liability insurance; Babywearing International (BWI) was a good fit for these needs. I passed the written assessment in May and the skills assessment in June. At my skills assessment I learned several new tricks, especially with pouches. Our group became an official BWI chapter in August. On August 30, 2013, I became mother to a newborn...18 month old, and 3 year old. We live(d) in a house with 15 (fifteen) sets of stairs and my oldest was starting preschool, so we needed to get in and out of the house through sunshine, or rain, or snow... And so the luxurious fun of using carriers to carry two children in 2012, became a minute necessity in 2013. As I continued to develop ways to get everybody where we needed to be, I began to share videos of these ways and help others across the world in the Tandem* Babywearing Facebook group and forum style website. By the end of 2013, I was helping in a more official capacity as an administrator with the Tandem Babywearing Facebook group and a moderator with  
*Tandem is carrying more than one child
2013: Our new sweet baby!
2014 brought me the opportunity to work with Babywearing International’s Babywearing Education Committee to set in place a standard of guidelines for tandem babywearing for BWI educators to follow. And the opportunity to attend and present at the 2014 International Babywearing Conference in Tempe, AZ. I presented "Topics in Tandem Wearing", and "The Woven Repairs Toolkit". I also gained a great deal of knowledge (and baby carriers) that I was able to bring back to my group. I felt a bit like an explorer! The carrier that had the most lasting effect for both my local community and me was the mei tai; I had attended several sessions on how to use it and I purchased a BBTie mei tai as my conference souvenir (I love that carrier so much that I now sell it!).  
2014: Speaking at the
International Babywearing Conference '14
2015 brought me the opportunity to train without children! In May I took a bus to NYC and attended the Center for Babywearing Studies Foundations training, my first professional training. I made friends. I learned. I must have said: OH and AHA fifty times each day of training. I learned how to teach the large variety of carriers that are on the market. I learned how to meet caregivers where they are. I learned the tiniest tweak can make a huge difference in comfort. I learned that in person training is my ideal way to learn. I passed my CBWS exams straight away and obtained American Heart Association CPR certification and liability insurance in October, and I became a CERTIFIED CBWS Babywearing Consultant launching my current consulting business during International Babywearing Week!!! On October 6th I launched my business website and Facebook page and updated my YouTube channel.
2015: My website is live!
I was selling personal baby carriers at every consultation, and I needed to have a greater variety of carriers available for my clients, so the first month of 2016, I applied for a PA sales tax license, was approved, and began selling baby carriers. As my professional services became more in demand, I realized that I had to choose where to dedicate my time. I decided to leave my local babywearing group that I had co-founded, so that I could offer more complete services through my fast-growing business. Besides carrier sales and consultations,  I am now offering free services weekly and working with a variety of local, regional, and national non-profits to provide services, education, and baby carriers. One of my favorite parts of making money in my beloved profession is…I can reinvest that money into training! In May at Mommycon’s WEAR conference I was able to attend innovative workshops that helped me to work more efficiently and affect more people AND I had the opportunity to do another one of my favorite things - teach. I taught in the Babywearing Lounge, and the classes: "Wrap Geekery", "Teaching Back Wrapping”, and approved for 1.5 IBLCE L-CERPs and 1.5 CBWS CEUs “Precautions and Special Considerations for Tandem Babywearing”. I have been able to continue learning and growing as a babywearing educator by training and certifying with the USIKC Kangaroo Care in June and completing the 6 Hour Rebozo Training with Gena Kirby in September. I’ve also become a member of the BCIA - Baby Carrier Industry Alliance, so that I can keep current with the baby carrier industry. Stay tuned for International Babywearing Week 2016, as I celebrate my business anniversary with giveaways, classes, and some exciting outreach opportunities! I’m so excited to see where this journey next takes me!
2016: My first professional babywearing head shot

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