by Reina Christian, Baby K’tan, LLC
This post made possible by the support of Baby K’tan
Parenting is hard. Sure, it’s been happening for a very long time but it’s still hard. Full of challenges. For some parents, more than others.
While many of us feel overwhelmed with the beautiful task that is caring for and bringing up children when we aren’t dealing with mobility difficulties or chronic pain, there are parents that face challenges that amplify the everyday aspects of parenting that can seem exhausting in their own right to untold degrees. Yet every day, parents with limited physical resources love and care for their children, fighting through their own pain to be present and connected with their precious little ones. Forging their own path in their parenting journey, these are some of the bravest parents you’ll ever meet who know the meaning of sacrifice and give new meaning to ingenuity.
For the love of their children.
For parents with physical obstacles, finding and creating alternatives for navigating their parenting terrain is essential. In a world set up to work for a certain privileged group, many parents that don’t fit that mold look for ways to make it work for them. Babywearing for adaptive parents opens up connection and closeness.
When something comes along that helps, it is celebrated.
Just at the very center of the Baby K’tan story sits inventor Michal Chesal’s son Coby. Born with Down syndrome, his condition was the reason Chesal went to work exploring a babywearing option that would be crucial for offering her son the best possible development during the early stages. The result was a carrier that supported his low muscle tone contrary to the other carriers available on the market 13 years ago.
Today, the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier has grown to be a popular option for all caregivers wanting to carry their little ones. What Michal didn’t realize at the time, was that the product she invented for her son with disabilities would soon become an important necessity and mainstay for caregivers who themselves live with disabilities. For some, the carrier doesn’t just offer a more convenient way to carry a baby, but rather the only way to carry or hold a baby.
Parents with disabilities bring a special gift to their parenting: they understand the need for adapting.
The first time Michal realized that her invention could help parents living with disabilities was when her sister Chumi used the Baby K’tan to carry one of her nieces. Chumi suffers from a neurological pain disorder that doesn’t allow her to walk or hold weight on her legs. While in a wheel chair, Chumi can use the carry her many nieces and nephews safely without putting weight on her lap which can cause intense pain. Like Chumi, for parents and other caregivers utilizing a wheelchair, babywearing may provide a safe option for connection, bonding, and to be able to accomplish the practical aspects necessary for daily life. For some, this is the only way they can hold their babies.
“I knew I was creating something that would benefit my son, but I never imagined that it would become essential for some parents and never in my wildest dreams would have thought it could be the only way some parents hold their babies,” says Chesal, president and co-owner of Baby K’tan, LLC.
When Samantha Rawagah gave birth to her baby boy, her father was delighted to know that he would soon have a grandson to do all the things that Grandpas are supposed to do with their grandchildren. Only one thing was standing in the way. Mr. Rawagah is a paraplegic and uses a wheelchair to get around. With limited use of his arms, he feared not being able to hold his grandson. Samantha’s solution was to put a Baby K’tan on her dad. The result was a match made in heaven – the perfect way for Mr. Rawagah to hold his grandson close to his heart.
Cristine Pyle knows all too well how Mr. Rawagah felt. While Cristine is not confined to a wheelchair, she too is learning how to parent with physical limitations. Cristine has a right hemiparesis that affects both her right arm and leg. She has no functional use of her right arm or hand and has limited mobility, balance, and endurance due to the weakness in her right leg. On her blog, AdaptiveMom.com, Cristine reports on parenting resources for differently-abled parents. With two little ones in-tow, she often relies on babywearing as a way to adapt. Cristine shared her experience of using the Baby K’tan here.
When Tabitha Caldwell was just a tot of 3 years old, she was the victim of a gunshot that damaged her spine. The injury resulted in the loss of use of her leg. As an adult, even though doctors warned that she may not be able to have children, she was fortunate to have carried and birthed two children who are now 9 years old and 7 months respectively. Tabitha relies on her baby carrier to assist her with her baby’s reflux as he needs to be held upright for a period of time after eating. Tabitha’s carrier of choice for her needs is the Baby K’Tan and she says that without it, managing his needs would be much more challenging.
These stories are at the very center of organizations like Ruckabye Baby, a non-profit whose mission is to provide baby carriers to wounded military members of all branches who have been injured in service to our nation, thereby giving them an extra tool to comfort, bond with, and care for their small children.
“Our intent is to not only get the carriers out to service members and their spouses, but to teach them, whether in person or via video conference, how to use the carrier correctly,” says Chelsea Cary, President of Ruckabye Baby. “We work with their care team where appropriate to help the injured service member thrive in this new avenue of parenting.”
Parenting with physical challenges is difficult but not impossible and with information, support, and community, there are options. Most importantly, nobody needs to go it alone. Together, we can share adaptive parenting techniques and stories, encouraging each other along the way.
Baby K’tan is proud to support the mission of Ruckabye Baby and all of the parents and caregivers with physical limitations and disabilities who rely on babywearing to raise their little ones. We see first hand the value of bonding through babywearing and what it means for all families, believing that everyone benefits.
While Chumi, Mr. Rawagah, Cristine, Tabitha and the clients of Ruckabye Baby all use babywearing as a way to assist them with acquired disabilities, using a carrier may be beneficial for those with congenital disabilities who are raising children as well. As a company whose product was invented for a child born with disabilities, the Baby K’tan family is pleased to know that the Baby K’tan Baby Carrier has been able to help other families who learn to adapt in similar situations.
All parents can use a little support. Adaptive parents show time and time again they are more than equipped for the task of parenting, we celebrate their strength, creativity, persistence, and most of all their dedication and love.
To learn more about Baby K’tan, click here.