Scary stories from a lovely place
I must confess I am missing the attention I received when very pregnant. Walking in Brixton with my fertile belly attracted many eyes. I also received a range of comments such as “oh you will be a yummy mummy” and “please bring your baby to see me” from women and “hello” from men (not in the nice greeting way, but the slimy way). Now I’m just a normal person again. It’s a bit boring.
Except when I have the cute one with me. He attracts a whole new kind of attention. I have taken to carrying Silas in a sling which is really just a very long piece of stretchy fabric. It mimics the womb and induces sleep in a foolproof way. Silas is squashed into the foetal position against my body. He enters into an instant coma as soon as he is wedged in. He has no other choice but sleep.
This simple, yet brilliant contraption solicits many strange reactions from different South Africans. As I walk with Silas in the purple sling people generally stare at the lump slung across my body, and as I pass they exclaim something like “oh it’s a baby” or “shame so tiny”. A few people have even stopped me and asked to see the little package of joy. One older lady stopped me in the mall and begged me to “share”. After pawing him in a fairly worrisome way she left us in tears. Another lady called Silas “a fresh one” and a few people at Brixton Mall admired him in Afrikaans, but I don’t know what they said.
There have also been less than flattering remarks. Stephen was carrying Silas one day and a lady said the sling made him look pregnant. Stephen has been worried that the purple is not so good for his manhood. I think he looks hot. The purple does, however make most people think Silas is a girl, even when he is wearing a blue hat. Perhaps the most consternation about the sling has come from older, black men and women. The way they carried their children was of course on their back, so to see a young one strapped tightly across my front is unnerving. The best one of these reactions came from Rebekah, a lady at church. “What’s this? No, (grabbing and lifting the lump of Silas), no, no good.” Another reaction was a dirty look of disapproval from a stranger and a third was from an older man who asked me why I didn’t have Silas on my back. A few other people have asked me if he is okay like that or if he is in pain. From the look of his state of blissful sleep I would say yes, he’s fine.
Either way, front or back, baby wearing gets my vote. As with every aspect of baby care, there’s lots of fear mongering. I’ve been told that carrying a baby as I do, or on my back damages the development of the baby’s hips and can cause short sightedness. Again, as with every aspect of baby care, it’s mostly untrue and just blatantly false. The sling is convenient, warm in this cold weather, good for Silas to feel the rhythm of my breath and the beat of my heart and I don’t need to worry about awkward carriers or prams. Finally, another plus is of course the attention I got used to while pregnant will continue.