Kristin is a mama of four boys and is a co-founder of Lift Me Up: Babywearing to Thrive. She has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and advertising from Columbia College Chicago. She also has a background in bookkeeping. Kristin is not only manager of Lift Me Up’s finances, but she also coordinates and designs our printed materials and marketing plans. She is always on the lookout for new collaborations and opportunities to help Lift Me Up grow to reach more donors and applicants. She enjoys reviewing the stories and diagnoses of the applicants and coming up with ways to serve them as effectively and efficiently as possible. Kristin is also in charge of stocking and shipping carriers. Being our finance manager, she regulates when we purchase carriers and she confirms that the correct carriers are shipped in the order in which applications are received. Our local post office is very familiar, and so very patient, with Kristin and her four little shipping assistants.
Here is Kristin’s story about her journey with babywearing.
Through the years of having four small children, I have tried a wide array of carriers for all different stages. While pregnant with my first son, I knew I would need to babywear to walk my dog because my dog was afraid of strollers (and wagons and lawn mowers and bikes…). My first purchase was a camel colored Ergo with an infant insert. After wearing my son for a few weeks, I had trouble fine-tuning his positioning so I looked for a different option and came across the Moby wrap, which is a stretchy wrap for carrying infants. We used this wrap until I was able to position him correctly in the Ergo. The dog got walked, groceries were easy to shop for, crying baby was easily soothed and I was able to continue working while wearing the baby.
My second son was born and I had to buy a second Moby wrap due to his severe reflux and eczema which made it necessary to wash the wraps daily. The Moby wrap was great because he enjoyed being close to me and was comforted by the snugness of the wrap. I also had my hands free to chase after my first son, only fifteen months older. I continued to use the Moby wrap because it seemed to conform to his body so well. As he got heavier, we outgrew the Moby wrap and moved onto a linen ring sling. There was a learning curve with the positioning and it took some time for us to get it right.
Soon, before our third son was born, we found out that our second son had high muscle tone. His leg muscles in particular were tighter than normal. This explained why the wrap was easier for me to position him in than a ring sling or soft structured carrier. I had a two and a half year old, a sixteen month old who did not walk, and a newborn. Babywearing became invaluable. I wore my newborn in a silk ring sing. He lived in that ring sling. We began attending weekly therapy appointments at Easter Seals and had bi-weekly therapy visits in our home. Speech, occupational and physical therapy became a part of our lives and babywearing was there to help us along.
At age two, our second son began to walk and things got a bit easier. By this time I was introduced to woven wraps and preschool sized soft structured carriers. I was able to wrap my two year old on my back with a supportive woven wrap that positioned him correctly and was comfortable for me. By the time our fourth son was born, Lift Me Up had begun to form and I knew how useful a correct ergonomic babycarrier could be- not only for wearing the child with special needs, but for wearing a sibling so I could have hands-free to take care of my child with special needs.
Kristin wears her son so she can be hands-free to help her other son with special needs do physical therapy exercises. Here he is using their borrowed gate-walker machine, while little brother stays safely on Kristin’s back instead of crawling around on the floor near the equipment.
I used an infant size Kinderpack with my fourth son. This way I had two hands free to care for my one and a half year old, almost three year old and four year old. By the time he was almost one year old, my fourth son loved to be in a carrier on my back. I have recently fallen in love with mai tais. As an avid runner who pushes children in a jogging stroller, my upper back and arm muscles tend to get a bit sore and fatigued. The mai tai allows customization for what feels best on those days. I enjoy learning how different carriers fit the wearer and the child being worn differently. Through my years of experience, I have realized that every babywearing situation is different. We grocery shop, walk the older boys into school, go on long walks and more all with one child on my back and my hands free to care for the other boys. While we continue to attend therapy sessions, my youngest is still on my back most of the time carefully watching his older brother practice walking, writing his name, and speaking sentences to tell me things like he wants to ride his bike. A journey that began as a helpful way to walk the family dog turned into a lifestyle and invaluable resource to help all my children’s developmental needs.