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Embrace Babywearing: A Plus Size Mother’s Story

Embrace Babywearing: A Plus Size Mother’s Story

We recently had the honor of working with Jen McLellan, from PlusSizeBirth.com as she reviewed our Coast Foxgloves Toddler Carrier. During our communication with Jen, we came across this amazing story of SueAnne’s plus size babywearing journey. Jen and SueAnne were gracious enough to let us share it with our Tula Community!


SueAnne you shared with me that this cutie, your 3rd child, is the first you’ve ever worn. What stopped you from babywearing with your first two?

I have 2 girls, and my 3rd is a boy. Honestly I was scared and too self-conscious of my body with my first 2. I was scared that nothing would fit me. I was scared and nervous about what people would think about me, the “fat” girl babywearing. As a large woman I am very self-conscious as it is. So I let my fear of other people’s opinions get in the way. I did wear my 2nd daughter in a sleepy wrap a few times, but only while home, never out and about.

How did you find the perfect carrier for your curvy body?

How did I find the perfect carrier for my body? I researched A LOT. I knew I wanted to babywear with him and that is would be a big investment for me. I joined every online group and asked a ton of questions. I pretty much researched my entire pregnancy. After a lot of consideration I chose to take the plunge and ordered a Tula. I couldn’t be happier with the carrier I chose.

You said that babywearing has been the best thing you’ve ever done. Can you share a little about that?

Baby wearing has been the best thing I have chosen to do because it allows me to bond with my son, in a way I wouldn’t be able to without it. My goal was to breastfeed and I know what an amazing bond you create that way. However, I was diagnosed with IGT (insufficient glandular tissue) and even though we pushed through for 4 months with breastfeeding and supplementing, my heart was broken.

Babywearing him has given me so much comfort and joy. Our Tula is both his and my own happy place. He will be one year old in 2 weeks and I started wearing him (in the Tula) at 2 weeks old. So we’re coming up on our 1 year babywearing anniversary! He will beg for the Tula, and usually within 10 minutes of being in it, he’s out cold in a deep sleep! I seriously wear him every single day.

What suggestion do you have for a plus size mom-to-be or mom who is interested in babywearing but fearful nothing will fit?

My advice for fellow plus size moms or soon to be moms is to do your research! Read every blog you can about plus size babywearing, join Facebook groups, try to see if you have a local store that sells the one you’re interested in so you can try them on before you buy them. Also ASK questions, don’t be afraid! Last but not least, EMBRACE babywearing! EMBRACE your baby! EMBRACE yourself! Don’t let your fear stop you from doing this for yourself and for your child. The truth is people will talk, the majority of comments I have gotten are positive, but there have been a few rude ones. I let the rude one roll off my back, because all I have to do is look down at my smiley baby and know that I am doing what is best for us, and that is all that matter.


ABOUT PLUS SIZE BIRTH

Jen started Plus Size Birth to help women navigate the world of plus size pregnancy and share tips for embracing your body. PlusSizeBirth.com provides support and resources for women who want to have a healthy plus size pregnancy and empowered birth experience. Join her on Facebook and Instagram to learn more!

See what Jen has to say about our carriers in the video below:

Carried to Connect: Down Syndrome Awareness

Carried to Connect: Down Syndrome Awareness Month

In honor of Down syndrome awareness month, we wanted to introduce one of our amazing ambassadors, Jamie, and share her family’s story! Read below to learn how she has found her baby carrier helpful with her daughter, Gracie!


Did you know that October is Down syndrome awareness month? I never did, until we had our middle daughter, Gracie, who happens to have Down syndrome.

My name is Jamie and I am a mother to three: Gage (6), Gracie (3) and Raegan (2 months). We just finished our local Buddy Walk, which highlights and supports Down syndrome, and the rest of the month, I like to spend time sharing facts about Down syndrome and help spread the word that we are all more alike than different. Gracie may have some things that are different about her, but she’s actually much more like her siblings than she is different.

We found out Gracie would be born with Down syndrome when I was about 16 weeks pregnant. It was shocking to us and I was so naive about Down syndrome, but once she got here, all that fear melted away and I fell in love with our perfect new edition.

She’s a joy multiplier, loving, precious, perfectly created, and has changed the way I view others with disability. Down syndrome has changed our life – all for the better.

Gracie was 2 before she walked. One of the characteristics of Down syndrome is hypotonia, which is lower muscle tone. For two years, we had to carry her everywhere! And even now, she can tire easily and needs a rest. Add to this that Gracie hates strollers, and babywearing is a huge win for our family!

In the last few years as we have vacationed to Disney World or aquariums and other crowded places, we have noticed that Gracie is very sensitive to crowds and gets overwhelmed and oversensitized. Holding her is what calms her down, and as she has gotten older, and heavier, babywearing is how we are able to calm her and not wear ourselves out!

I’ve been using the Free-to-Grow carrier recently, and what I love about it is I can wear Gracie in it, and also adjust it smaller to fit Raegan! I knew I would wear Raegan more than any other children so I could have my hands free for my other two, but it’s nice that it is so adjustable so I can also carry Gracie in it when she needs it.

 


To learn more about Jamie and her family, follow her on Instagram! To learn more about Down syndrome and how you can help visit ndss.org and/or theidsc.org.

Introducing Tula Kids Backpacks!

Introducing Tula Kids Backpacks!

It’s no secret that the time of holding a small baby is precious and fleeting. It may take a bit of time, or perhaps you’re surprised by what seems like an overnight growth spurt, but small babies can quickly become so big. As parents, we are seeing our first “Tula babies” growing up. They are beginning to explore the world more independently, and some are even heading to school. It’s a bittersweet time because we know that as they grow, and the space between us becomes wider, we stay close and keep doing what we love together!

Our own growing “Tula babies” inspired us to seek out how we might continue on our Tula journeys and celebrate the things we enjoy most about our products…reimagined for an older child. We’ve created an adorable new line of Kids Backpacks that lets the Tula Love continue as your child heads off on their own special adventures.

The Tula Kids Backpack is produced with high-quality, water-resistant fabric and a nostalgic, European design that perfectly combines essential functions with an ultra-charming style. Our first collection includes five favorite Tula designs that have appeared on other Tula items.

Tula Kids Backpacks are absolute love because of their:

  • limited and trendsetting designs.
  • comfortable padded, adjustable shoulder straps and sliding chest clip.
  • high-quality, easy cleaning 100% polyester fabric.
  • great size for toddlerhood and beyond. (Backpacks measure 4″ deep, 9″ high and 12″ wide).
  • plenty of items fit with two extra storage pockets on the front of the backpack and a stretchy interior pocket is integrated within the main compartment.
  • easy-to-use magnetic closures, perfect for little hands.
  • interior name tag for personalization.
  • handle on the top that allows for easy holding by grown ups and children.

Our first five Tula Kids Backpacks will be available on babytula.com on Tuesday, October 17th 2017, at 10AM PT. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, to learn additional details as we approach their first release!

Take a closer look at Blossom, Play, Rainbow Showers, Stickers and Stamps:

Blossom symbolizes the quickly growing and delicate beauty of a tiny baby. Bouquets of soft pink flowers are displayed amongst sprinkled dots on a navy background.

 

Play celebrates how babies express joy and happiness giving us their first laugh. A repeating design of tiny white hearts flutter across a mustard yellow background.

Red, orange, yellow, green, blue! We have plenty of love for you! We express our love for rainbows with Rainbow Showers which has an illustration like design of rainbows and clouds on a light blue background.

Be a kid again and express yourself! Stamps is a rocking hip design filled with all sorts of fun things like race cars, lightning bolts, dinosaurs, emoticons, rocket ships, and more; on a dark stone gray background.

Stickers helps you shout out what you adore with is extra cutesy design. All things you love like: Unicorns, donuts, hearts, flamingos, and sunnies are scattered across a pop of bright pink!

 

 

 

Carried to Connect: Babywearing Memories Live on After Infant Loss

 

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As October and National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month are coming to a close, we wanted to share a personal story of infant loss that is close to our hearts. Earlier this year, one of our own at Baby Tula experienced an incredibly difficult loss in her family. As our community rallied around her family, we were amazed by the amount of love, strength, and bravery that we saw. This continues by the willingness of Kara and her family to share their story. We have incredible gratitude and love for them.

 

Babywearing, while convenient, sometimes necessary, and an amazing way to bond with your baby, has also helped to form memories that will last me forever. For this, I am so grateful for Babywearing. But, let’s start at the beginning.

My husband, Trevor, and I are infertile. Doctors have never been able to determine exactly why, so we have earned the classification, “unexplained infertility”. After five long years of fertility treatments, several doctors and clinics (in different states), we became pregnant during our first round of IVF. Sadly, we miscarried our first baby at 9 weeks (after seeing a heartbeat the previous week). Our third frozen embryo transfer thankfully worked, and we now have an energetic, sweet, and funny three-year-old: Henry.

After Henry turned one, we decided to start trying for another baby. We tried naturally for a while, but that never seems to get us anywhere. We then moved forward with IVF at a local clinic. Unfortunately, two full IVF cycles (and three embryo transfers later), we were not pregnant. After some research, we decided to switch to a very large and successful clinic about three hours away. This proved to be the right decision for us, as we became pregnant on our very first embryo transfer: with twins!

We weren’t anticipating twins, even though we had transferred two embryos. We had transferred two before, at the other clinic, to no avail. So although we knew it was a possibility, we definitely didn’t expect it. Yet here we were, getting ready to grow our family from three to five. Minivan time!

I couldn’t wait to babywear my second child. After the discovery of the twins, my Babywearing future changed dramatically. I spent a lot of time researching how to tandem carry newborn twins. I added long wraps and several ring slings to my Babywearing stash. I packed wraps in my hospital bag (something I didn’t do the first time around!). I could not wait to bond with my babies, and to hold them close to me.

I had a wonderful, uneventful pregnancy. My labor and delivery went exactly the way I had hoped. There were no complications, and no NICU time needed for my babies. My girl, Avery Monroe, was 7lbs 13oz, born first. Oliver Talbott, my sweet boy, was 7lbs 3oz, and born 11 minutes later.

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I started Babywearing the twins soon after they were born. A large percentage of the photos I took of the babies were Babywearing photos. And while tandem wearing wasn’t necessarily the easiest, it was definitely useful during that early newborn phase, when both babies crying simultaneously was common. There were a handful of times that I successfully got two crying babies to sleep by tandem wearing. Talk about feeling like Supermom!

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And my Babywearing dreams really came true when Ula asked if my family would want to participate in a Tula product photoshoot. Of course I want my babies to be Tula models! Our shoot was scheduled for Friday, July 8. The twins were four months and one week old.

The week leading up to the photoshoot was more stressful than our normal stressful weeks. Oliver came down with a cold and ear infection, and Avery had some possible pinkeye going on. We made a couple trips to the pediatrician that week, and I was up many of the nights holding and rocking sick babies. But, by Friday morning, they were both feeling better, and we moved forward with the photoshoot.

We drove to a beautiful nearby state park, with a sandy beach area on a gorgeous lake. It was a chilly day, for July, so once I got Oliver nice and snug in a Kangaroo carry, I kept him there for the majority of the shoot. My husband, Trevor, wore Avery, and Henry spent most of his time throwing pebbles into the water. Oliver got hungry, so I nursed him, and the photographer even captured some photos of that. Little did I know just how special these photos would be.

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After the photo session, we packed up and drove back to town. On the way, we dropped the twins off at their babysitter’s house. This was the last time I’d see my baby boy alive.

At 4:30 p.m., after tending to as much work as I could fit in those several hours, I left my house to go pick up the babies. As I was about halfway there, I received the phone call that haunts me – and will forever haunt me. It was the babysitter, telling me that Oliver wasn’t breathing. That I need to get there now. He was taking a short nap, and she went to wake him up to get him ready for me to pick them up, but he wouldn’t wake. The ambulance is on its way, and they are doing CPR, but he’s not breathing, and hurry. Hurry. Hurry.

I drove furiously to the babysitter’s house. I ran red lights, stop signs, passed people on the shoulder of the road. Through my tears and palpable fear, I managed to call both my husband and my mother-in-law. They both immediately left to head to the babysitter’s.

When I arrived, the ambulance was there, and he was inside of it. They would not tell me anything, they would not answer my questions. I fell to my knees in the grass, pleading, “Please tell me something. Please tell me he’s breathing.” But nothing. Then, they grabbed some medical equipment from the second ambulance, and told me they were intubating him for the ride to the hospital. And they left.

My mother-in-law had shown up by that time. We went in to the house and got both of the car seats (because, I said firmly, that my son WILL be coming home to me in this car seat), and grabbed Avery, and took off to the hospital. The state trooper who responded to the call would not let me drive, so my mother-in-law drove us to the hospital. She couldn’t go as fast as either of us would have liked, because Avery was in the car, and of course we had to be safe. But I was willing us to be there, to go faster, for the sea of 5 o’clock traffic to part ways so we could get to my sweet Oliver.

My mother-in-law dropped me off at the emergency entrance. They let me run right in. I frantically told the person at the front desk that my infant son was brought in, not breathing, and I need to see him. She walked, ridiculously slowly, to the door, and then finally opened it and let me in. I ran down the hallway, head on a swivel, searching for my husband (who had turned around and followed the ambulance as he saw it drive past him in the other direction), searching for my baby.

I found Trevor, sitting outside of the triage room, head in his hands. I shouted, “what’s wrong? What’s happened? Is he dead?” He just looked up at me, his tear-streaked face, and I knew. A doctor (or nurse, or grief counselor, I have no idea), came up to me and explained that they were trying to get Oliver’s heart to restart, but they were not having any luck. I said I want to see him, and I walked in the triage room.

I immediately reached out and held his little foot (it was all I could get to, as this was a teaching hospital, and Oliver was surrounded by people). They continued compressions for maybe two minutes after I got there, then called his time of death. I collapsed to the ground, wailing. They tried to offer me a chair, but I just brushed them away. A chair would not bring me any comfort.

I stripped off my t-shirt and stood there in my nursing tank, and asked to hold my baby boy. I wanted to feel his skin on me. They wanted to clean him up first, as he had a dirty diaper. I told them no, I would do it. And I changed Oliver’s diaper for the very last time, with tears clouding my vision, my chest heaving and my hands shaking.

We held Oliver for hours that night. We cried, we reminisced, we cursed. And then we tried to hold it together so we could tell Henry what had happened. A conversation I don’t wish on anyone.

A day that started out so wonderful, with photos of both Trevor and I wearing our precious, much-loved, and much-wanted twin babies, ended in such trauma and tragedy.

I often go back now, and look through the photos taken that day. Of me wearing Oliver in that Kangaroo carry. His chubby cheeks hanging out over the wrap. His little, sweet legs poking out. His precious little head. Our last nursing session ever, professionally photographed.

Babywearing was such a huge part of my four months and one week with Oliver. So many of the photos I have of him are of me wearing him. I will treasure the many (many, many) photos I took of him always.

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And now, I wear Avery a lot. I wear her in my Love Noir ring sling, the same that I wore him in so many times. Even though there are some wraps I haven’t had the heart to bring back out and wear her in, I still have them, folded, on my shelves. I will never part with them, as when I look at them, I remember the feeling of wearing Oliver close to my heart, in that fabric.

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Babywearing in the Cold

Babywearing in the Cold

Now that it’s starting to get cold out, we thought we’d share our good friend, Kerry from Rewild Your Child, advice on cold weather gear for baby!

Cold weather gear for baby

We booked a trip to Iceland when Esme was just a few weeks old – just getting out of the house before midday was quite the feat, and we had no idea how we were going to manage with her in the cold Icelandic wind. By the time we got there, she was just over 3 months old. It was early March, and they were having a lot of blizzards, along with the usual strong and very cold winds. We were pretty adept at using her Tula sling by then, but the question was, would she be warm enough in my usual coat, or did we both need to be in proper outdoor clothes?

First off, every day started with getting her into her double layer of thermals. Polarno Pyret do a great range of baby thermals, merino wool vests, and baby grows. That was a good start, so we knew she would be warm enough in the car, and for any quick sling changeovers outside of the car. 

She also has a habit of losing hats, so I thought I was being smart getting her a balaclava that she couldn’t so easily wriggle out of, but she had the last laugh by screaming so much every time the damn thing went anywhere near her, that pretty quickly I gave up on her wearing that, and kept up my original plan of sneaking a hat on when she fell asleep!

We had got her an insulated all-in-one snow suit, with a view to me wearing my goose down Rab jacket, with the sling over it. I’m not sure if it was the slidiness of the two jackets against each other, or the bulkiness that got in her way, or if she just settles quicker being right next to me, but it took a while to convince her that this set up was a good idea. The first time we tried it, it didn’t go down well at all – she screamed blue murder! Part of the problem was getting her used to the strong cold wind – at first, the shock of it seemed like a bit of an assault to her, but she got used to it quickly, and stopped panicking when a bit of wind caught her face. I knew full winter outers for us both would work much better for a day out walking in the snow, as I could take her out of the sling, and feed her without having her out in the elements, so I thought it was worth sticking at it, despite the protests. Over the course of a few days, we built up to it – initially putting her in the suit, and just carrying her around a bit, having a picnic close to the car. Once she got used to the kerfuffle of getting the suit on, and to the cold wind hitting her face, the only remaining hurdle was to try the sling. Again, it took a few goes… at times having to take her out of the sling and feed her while we walked (the joys of motherly multi-tasking!) but eventually we managed a few hikes that lasted a good few hours each, so it was definitely worth the effort of persevering with it.

She was much happier in my usual coat, where she could snuggle in to me, so this was good when we were just popping out of the car. Any longer than that, and we had to be more organised, making sure to feed her well before getting out of the car.

The only problem was that my heavy winter sling coat doesn’t cover me up too well, against the harsh Icelandic wind. There’s no head hole for Esme, so the zip only comes up to her head, leaving my neck and chest exposed.

I had been worried about this before we came away, and so I had bought a couple of extra feeding tops – a merino wool base layer from Milker, and a thick black hoody from VivaLaMama Berlin. It turned out these were invaluable regardless of which coat I was wearing – I wore both under the sling every day.

I wore my usual VivaLaMama Berlin sling hoody (which has a head hole for Esme, and her own wee hood (very handy for children who hate hats!)) over both of us, followed by my coat, along with a woolly hat and neck buff for myself.

This combination gave me enough warmth, but when the wind picked up, I had to hold onto my hood, as the sling coat from Mamaway isn’t really designed with Icelandic adventures in mind!

Having good warm clothes with easy accessibility for breast feeding was great, as I was warm enough for feeding in the car, or outside if I had my Rab jacket on (and open), and it gave me good privacy too. I had tried using my usual thermals, and an additional breastfeeding vest while out in the camper before we went away, but it’s just too chilly when you have to lift the thermal up at the front, and it pulls up around the back, so I would definitely recommend the Milker merino wool base layer.

All in all, we needn’t have worried, with the double thermal layers from Polarno Pyret, Esme stayed pretty snug despite the blizzards. Either outer solution worked fine to keep her safe and warm, with the Rab plus snowsuit having the advantage of being able to feed her outdoors – essential for a longer hike. She eventually settled into this system, it just took a bit of work to get there. 

Oh, and for those of you wondering, a back pack set into the snow, with a changing mat draped over it works just fine as a changing table when a nappy needs changing and you’re a two hour hike from the car! Get a bit of shelter from the wind behind a rock, and a bit of teamwork, and the baby’s changed before they know it!

Gear essentials 

  • Thermal baby vest
  • Thermal babygrow
  • Merino breastfeeding base layer
  • Breastfeeding hoody
  • Sling
  • Sling hoody (with baby head hole, and hood for baby)
  • Either heavy sling coat OR regular goose down jacket for you, and insulated all-in-one suit for baby

To learn more about Kerry and her family, follow her on Facebook and Instagram!