Baby-Wearing ~ Toddler-Wearing ~ Eleven-Year-Old-Wearing

When my daughter Leah was born in 1996 I knew that I would wear her. Baby wearing was new to Salt Lake City, Utah and people always stopped and stared as I passed by. Even more people stopped to look when my husband Aaron carried little Leah in the sling. We loved slinging her! I could nurse her privately in public. I could take her anywhere, keeping her close, and still having my hands free.

We didn’t own a stroller and we had no interest in getting one. Leah was comfortable living out of her “pouch” and experiencing the world closer to our eye-level rather than from the compartment-like stroller. We wore her through the streets of Boston, on a ferry to and from Martha’s Vineyard, and on the subway in New York City. She snuggled up against us in Los Angeles, at the beach, and most everywhere we went. Aaron and I marveled at how cumbersome those adventures would have been if her main mode of transportation had been a stroller.

Marthas Vineyard 1997

When Leah was fourteen months old we found out that she was deaf. In dealing with her diagnosis I felt all sorts of things, but one thing that I felt was a bit of satisfaction—satisfaction that my child had traveled that first year with the comfort of her mommy’s or daddy’s heartbeat nearby. Even if she couldn’t hear it, she was always close enough to feel it. She took in the world visually from her “perch” even though she was missing everything auditorily. She could see our smiles, feel our kisses and she had the confidence of feeling safe in our arms. We wore her that way until she was over three years old.

Our daughter Lucy was born prematurely at thirty-two weeks gestation and weighed 4 lbs 11 oz. She was born with spina bifida, and on top of that was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at nine months of age. The prospect of Lucy ever mastering walking was slim. I already knew that we could easily postpone the loading and unloading of a wheelchair simply by carrying Lucy in a sling, though I had no idea how far we would end up taking it…or her.

Lucy is now eleven years old and weighs fifty pounds. She is four feet, two inches tall and yes, we can still be seen wearing her. It’s not for the comfort or ease of it any more—quite the opposite. Carrying Lucy is a personal mission and always a personal triumph. We are an active family and I guess we just refused to live within the limitations imposed by a wheelchair. We travel. We camp. We hike. We go to the beach. Many of the places we go are out of the way, and the roads we travel are unpaved. Aaron and I knew that leaving Lucy at home wasn’t even an option that we would consider. Yet surrendering to a life where so much of the world’s natural beauty would be unavailable to us because an inconvenience like spina bifida wiped out our child’s ability to walk, seemed unfair to us all.

Aaron and I decided that we would become strong enough to carry Lucy. We would take her off-road, beyond the pavement where waterfalls and natural arches and hoodoos can be seen. We would be her legs. We take her up slot canyons, through coniferous forests and bring her almost face to face with moose. I have pointed out wildflowers and taught her their names as we‘ve hiked to lakes in Glacier National Park. She’s seen the mud pots and geysers of Yellowstone, and yes, she has seen the waterfalls too. In winter, when she was invited up the canyon for a snow day, I wore Lucy on my back as we tromped through snowdrifts that were thigh high!

Back in 1996 when I slipped little Leah into a sling and adjusted it so she was safely against me, I never imagined that I would be wearing my children for the next 15 years. I never imagined carrying a ten-year-old and having that child thank me for doing it as she takes in nature’s beauty. People still stop and stare, that hasn’t changed. Strangers and friends ask, “How long will you keep carrying her?” and I don’t have an answer. Honestly, I don’t know. I just know that I will carry her as long as I can.

Here are some photos of places we’ve carried Lucy. Each caption has the year, and since Lucy was born in the year 2000, the math needed to figure out her age is pretty easy.

Aaron Lucy and a Moose 2005

Aaron and Lucy in Moab 2008

Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone 2009

Uncle Toms Trail Yellowstone 2009

Goblin Valley Utah 2009

Hiking through Albion Basin 2010

Big Cottonwood Canyon 2010

How We Carry Our Eleven-Year-Old
We use a number of different packs and we are continually making modifications. Originally we carried the girls in Over The Shoulder Baby Holders. Now we have a custom Baby Hawk, we call it a Lucy Hawk, a Deuter Kid Comfort III, an Organic Ergo Baby*, and an old framed Kelty pack. Any time we see a pack that looks useful we get it especially if it’s rated for a child weighing 50 pounds or more.

*The Ergo Baby Carrier was given to us for free by the good folks at ErgoBaby. All of the other carriers listed were purchased.

This entry was posted in Crazy Little Thing Called Life, Strong Enough by Rachel Coleman. Bookmark the permalink.

About Rachel Coleman

The opinions and late night musings published on this blog are Rachel de Azevedo Coleman's alone, and are not ever intended to represent the opinions and sentiments of any organization or product that Rachel is, was, or will be associated with. Rachel Coleman is the creator and Emmy-nominated host of Signing Time!, the children's American Sign Language vocabulary building series. She is also the creator and host of Baby Signing Time, Rachel & the TreeSchoolers, and Rachel & Me. Rachel now serves as the Executive Director of the American Society for Deaf Children, a 501c3 nonprofit established in 1967 by parents of deaf children. ASDC is the American Sign Language organization for families who are raising deaf children. www.deafchildren.org Motivated by her child, Leah's deafness, Rachel has spent the last 18 years creating ASL products to help bridge the communication barrier between hearing and signing communities. In 2006 Rachel founded the Signing Time Foundation, a 501c3 non-profit dedicated to putting communication in the hands of all children of all abilities. In 2014, the Signing Time Foundation launched a 50-Lesson online ASL curriculum called "Sign It: ASL Made Easy" that is available free-of-charge to families with deaf or hard of hearing children ages 36 months and under. Apply at www.mydeafchild.org. For those who do not qualify to receive Sign It ASL for free, they can find it for purchase at very reasonable rates on www.SignItASL.com. Rachel and her husband, Aaron, live in Salt Lake City Utah. They are parents to Leah who was born profoundly deaf, and is now a senior in college at NTID/RIT in Rochester, NY. They are also parents to Lucy who has spina bifida and cerebral palsy, and recently graduated high school. In 2010 the Colemans were joyfully reunited with Rachel's daughter Laura. Rachel is proud to be Laura's birth mom. Laura was placed for adoption as an infant in 1992 when Rachel was 17 years-old.

185 thoughts on “Baby-Wearing ~ Toddler-Wearing ~ Eleven-Year-Old-Wearing

  1. I read this article with tears in my eyes – what a beautiful story of strength and perseverance. I wish all moms could feel this strong, unyielding pride in doing something right for their children, even if they feel judged by doing so. Imagine my surprise when I scrolled down and read your info – I have been teaching my two toddlers (aged 3 and 2), ASL with your tv show for the past 6 weeks, because my son said “he wanted to be ready if a new friend couldn’t hear him”. I think your show is wonderful, and your story is beautiful. Keep on keeping on, mama!

    • I don’t normally cry when I read online articles or blogs, but after watching Signing Time and the impact it’s had on my (fully hearing, but selectively mute) daughter, I couldn’t help it. I’ve invited you and you’re daughter into my home most everyday. We’ve danced and sang and learned with you. Reading this, surprisingly, hit me like a family member overcoming challenges. I’ve read your struggles and have seen the strength and perseverance. It’s strange to feel or say this, but I am so proud of you! Way to go Rachel! I’ll be here cheering you on every step and stumble.

  2. I am so amazed by this. I have a 10 year old about 45 pounds that I want to take with me on my hikes, camping or even long walks. She wants to go but can’t walk far due to her breathing limitations. I have been trying to find something that I can take her with me but I have been coming up empty handed. Everything I have seen has a weight limitation of 40-45 pounds. I would really love to see your packs up close? Do you have any detailed pictures of them? Thank you for your story!!! This has got me thinking creatively, I know I can find a solution. 🙂

    • You may want to look into a Preschool Kinderpack. I’m not sure of the weight limit but, I know it is designed for bigger, older kids.

  3. My son is born with Cerebellum Hypoplasia and still isn’t able to walk at age 3. I have been carrying him on my shoulder to go everywhere, but I am afraid he is getting too heavy for me to do so. I am in a quest to find the perfect backpack carrier for him and found your site. Thank you for sharing and I will research the brands you mentioned. Keep up the awesome work you have been doing for your little girl. She is way more fortunate than a lot of kids out there.

  4. Could you please tell what carrier this would be from the picture Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone 2009? I have a 3 yr old son with DS and runs so in order to keep him safe I’m looking for yet another baby carrier. Child harnesses are OK but he’s still everywhere.

  5. Thank you so much for this post! We found out two weeks ago that our baby will be born with spina bifida, and I was concerned that there may be health or safety concerns with wearing a baby/child who is partially paralyzed (one of about a zillion concerns bouncing around my head right now). It’s a huge relief to see that this is one more method available to us to make sure our little one has a full and fulfilling life.

  6. HI
    Can you tell me where you got the carrier in your Mammoth Hot Springs Yellowstone 2009 picture?

    Thank you
    Cristina

  7. This is so awesome! I’m an AT and avid baby wearer and I’ve been working on a carrier that’s made specifically for families that want to wear their children beyond preschool age!!!

  8. You and your family are such and inspiration and we are so grateful to have your Signing Time videos and incredible stories in our lives to help us as our children grow! Thank you for continually letting us into your lives and teaching us something new each time!!

  9. I see you said you use the Deuter KidComfort III but the max weight is 48lbs.Where you able to use this beyond that limit? My son is almost 50lbs.

  10. Pingback: Joi Estell

  11. Finding this post is like a dream come true for me and my family. We have a 9 year old (42 pounder) with special needs, and our last hiking trip saw us carrying her through very rocky terrain in a jogger that, honestly, is too small for her. It breaks my heart to think that we can’t get out and hike—which we love to do—because carrying Lily is too difficult. But seeing your post has brought back some hope. I’m especially interested in what I’m wondering is the ergo baby in the picture of you at Mammoth Hot Springs, because it looks like it would be a good fit. ANY recommendations would be greatly appreciated!

  12. My brother recommended I might like this web site. He was once entirely right.

    This post truly made my day. You can not consider just how much time
    I had spent for this information! Thank you!

  13. Mabosbola is an on the internet gambling site of which provides the the majority of popular soccer wagering and
    casino online games who have been set up since 2013.
    Given that this site made an appearance and provides betting services to all customers in Indonesia,
    Mabosbola has dared to provide purchase security to almost
    all its official people up to a nominal great of rupiah.

    This particular is the cause many world-class wagering game providers from the
    level regarding Sbobet and Maxbet desire to work with Mabosbola.
    So far, presently there have been several gambling, soccer wagering and online on line casino game providers which have collaborated with Mabosbet, including Sbobet, Nova88,
    Ion, and WM Casino.

    On our recognized site, you can take pleasure in various types associated with the best
    and many popular games, beginning from soccer gambling games such
    because Asian Handicap, 1X2, or total report or challenging on line casino gambling games such as roulette,
    baccarat, sicbo etc. A person can get all of this
    by simply registering to turn out to be a member on the
    official gambling online site Mabosbola.

    How you can Register for a great Online Gambling Accounts
    As we explained earlier, for individuals of you who wish to enjoy
    the finest games in Indonesia, we recommend of which you
    register as an official fellow member on the on the internet gambling site Mabosbola.
    Besides being easy, you also only need a few mins to join up.

  14. THE VERY BEST AND RELIABLE BOLA TANGKAS JUDI BANDAR

    Agen-338a is an online bookie that works
    officially with the sbobet provider. Agen-338a has served wagering members
    from the year of 2010 until now and contains never given dissatisfaction in phrases of sbobet login. We are also one of the sbobet brokers who have received
    several awards and have now become the number one site in Dalam negri.
    We have been also a site that is visited straight from the official sbobet supplier to be vested with marketing sports gambling products, internet casinos, slots, shooting fish,
    etc. for the Indonesian community. Every day there are more than 10, 500 members who positively play on our official
    site and supply reviews that are incredibly satisfied choosing all of us as the spouse agent.
    Our brand searches also go beyond 10, 000
    queries each day and we are a day to day service site.

    Exactly how to Register a Sbobet Account
    We offer official sbobet bank account registration for all members
    who want to join without the fees or requirements.

    We also confirm the simplicity in the sbobet list, because
    to complete the sbobet account registration process,
    only verification is necessary that you are 18+ and possess a local
    financial institution to make purchases. Sign up for sbobet can be through the registration form on the state website of
    Agen-338a or through our customer service who is ready to help you anytime.
    After filling in the registration form, the member just has to
    activate the ID with verification via our cs.

  15. THE BEST AND RELIABLE BOLA TANGKAS JUDI BANDAR

    Agen-338a is an online bookie that works officially with the
    sbobet provider. Agen-338a has served gambling members from 2010 until now and it has never given disappointment in conditions of sbobet login.
    We have been also one of the sbobet agents who have received several awards and have now become the number just one site in Philippines.
    We have been also a site that is visited completely from the official sbobet supplier to
    be vested with marketing football gambling products, casinos, slots, shooting species of fish,
    etc. for the Indonesian community. Every single day there are more
    than 10, 500 members who definitely play on our official site and supply reviews that are
    extremely satisfied choosing us as the spouse agent. Our brand searches also surpass 10, 000 lookups per day and we are a 24/7 service site.

    How to Register a Sbobet Account
    You can expect official sbobet bank account registration for all
    members who want to join without any fees or requirements.
    We also what is simplicity in the sbobet list, because to
    complete the sbobet account registration process, only affirmation is required that you
    are 18+ and have a local financial institution to make
    purchases. Register for sbobet can be through the registration form on the
    required website of Agen-338a or through our
    customer service who is ready to help you anytime.
    After filling in the registration form, the member just must activate the ID with confirmation via
    our cs.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.