I admit it. It’s official. I have a wrap addiction. Now you may not even be aware what a wrap is. I certainly remember a wonderful time when I wasn’t. It is essentially a long, thin piece of woven material that you use to wrap around yourself and your baby, to carry them close to your body. I used slings with my daughter, but discovered wraps fairly late in the game, and never really used it much when she was little. When my son was born I had every intention of learning how to wrap. I had one long wrap which I’d bought for my daughter and rarely used, and looked forward to using it with him. When he was just a few days I tried it for the first time.
I loved it and I used it lots over the first few weeks, getting more used to the technique involved. But then, then I discovered that there were groups on Facebook dedicated to wraps, how to use them and all the different kinds. So, it turns out, that wraps come in a whole load of different lengths, patterns, colours, textures, materials, weights. That all these different wraps have slightly different qualities, wrap differently, feel different, are better at different kinds of carries. Because there are endless variations of different carries that you can use to wrap your child. It turns out there are thousands of videos on YouTube to teach you how to wrap, and Facebook communities supporting each other to learn. My favourite was Wrap Jedi.
Each of these wraps potentially cost hundreds of pounds, and there was a huge market in second hand wraps, you could even make a profit selling particularly sought after wraps. That’s right, some wraps are so desperately wanted by people that they resell them for hundreds of pounds more than they cost to buy new. Some wraps are one of a kind, some are handwoven, some brands have fanatical followers who stay up all night desperate for the possibility of maybe being able to buy one. There are competitions to win the right to BUY a wrap for hundreds and hundreds of pounds. Some are made from silk, alpaca, merino, even fox hair. The more you learn about them the further down a crazy rabbit hole it feels like you’ve fallen.
But I started slowly. I bought a couple more fairly affordable wraps in different lengths so that I could try some different carries. I loved this idea of learning a new skill. I think that being away from work, not feeling particularly intellectually stimulated looking after a new baby all the time, this was my way of challenging myself, feeling as if I was achieving something. I watched hundreds of YouTube videos and got advice from fellow learners on Facebook. Some of my favourite sources of advice were Sheffield Sling Surgery and Wrap You in Love. When I mastered a new carry it felt like an enormous achievement. The pride I had when I first wrapped my baby on my back was huge!
That may seem ridiculous, but it’s really not easy when you’re first learning. It is very much an art that you have to persist with, where practice makes perfect. I had many times when I got it wrong and felt thoroughly frustrated by the whole thing!
But I was determined. And the more times I got it right, the more times I mastered a new carry, the more I was determined to keep learning. And through the Facebook pages I met loads of other lovely mothers who were having similar experiences to me. Whilst I didn’t have much real life support with my parenting there were definitely times when those other mothers learning to wrap their babies and keep them close, that they knew what it was like to be down in my hole! It felt like a really nice, positive place to be.
I started getting into what is known in the wrapping community as ‘churning’. I would sell one of my wraps to get the money to buy another one. I started to become convinced that the next wrap I wanted would be the perfect one. That if I just bought THAT wrap, it would mean I would never need any more, because it would be exactly what I wanted. And because they’re all so different I kept needing to try new ones. My collection grew and grew and the amount of money I had invested in them kept increasing. And I would always justify it that I would be able to make my money back selling on some of my highly sought after wraps for a profit.
It turns out I’m not so great as a capitalist. I feel guilty making a profit, and in in no way a haggler, so I’d end up reducing the price. Often I’d have somebody agree to buy it at a profit, and then I’d reduce the price at the last minute because the guilt would overwhelm me. It’s a good thing I’m a doctor because I could never be a business woman!
I got to the point where I felt utterly overwhelmed by it. I’m honestly not a crazy hoarder lady, but I really didn’t need all those wraps. I would spend days of my life browsing the buy/sell pages and entering draws and dreaming of the next wrap. It started to feel like it was consuming me rather than enriching me. I would try to resist and try to reduce, but I just wasn’t able to keep that level of self control.
So now, I have a collection of eight wraps. I realise that to lots of people that will still sound like a lot. But each of them I love, and they cover all my different wants, in a variety of lengths, colours and materials. I don’t use them as much as I did when the boy was tiny, but they do all get regular use. I have come off every single wrapping group, Facebook page and unfollowed several people, to try and totally reduce my temptations. And now I feel like I can enjoy it without it controlling me.
I never would have realised it was even possible to become addicted to pieces of material. I’m not exactly a fashion guru, and have never obsessed over clothes or shoes or handbags. I think the combination of not challenging myself at work, and being in vulnerable new mum state, left me more open to it. And it felt good when I achieved a new carry, when somebody else drooled over a particularly exciting, rare wrap that I had. It gave me a boost which I guess I was lacking in the daily slog of raising two children. And they are a really beam of beauty in life which was too full of pyjama days and snot and messy hair.
So, I will keep and love the wraps that I have. I will resist buying any more. And one day, when I am completely done with wearing my babies I will sell, or maybe give away, the lot, knowing that that temptation has now gone. It has been wonderful learning this new skill, meeting lovely new people, owning these beautiful pieces of material, and of course, holding my babies close.