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Mark, the Sling and I Against The World

Mark in the Sling

“Oh my God, he is so tiny!”

I smile politely to the middle-aged woman who is pointing at Mark, sleeping soundly in the sling against me.

“No, but really, he is tiny,” the random stranger insists, frowning and blocking the way to take a closer peek.

“He is five weeks old,” I explain.

“But how much does he weigh?”

“About 3.2 kilos.”

Next thing she is going to ask me how much *I* weigh.

She is eyeballing him—she doesn’t seem to trust me. “How can he be so tiny?”

Er… I don’t know—because he fit in my uterus for 38 weeks and was only born five weeks ago?

“He is Chinese,” I deadpan. “Chinese babies are smaller because China is a very crowded place.” And I walk away gracefully, leaving her to wonder whether I am joking or not.

At least, she didn’t attempt to “pet” Mark like an old woman did the other day at Shoppers Drug Mart. Please, don’t touch the baby, I don’t know where your hands have been (and I don’t want to know!) and I wouldn’t want strangers to touch me either.

Some people are strange. After the “pregnancy police”, I’m meeting members of the “baby police” each time Mark, Feng and I go out.

I usually carry Mark in a sling (I have the Amerigo, if you are curious). This is the best thing I bought ever, even though it was overpriced for what it is—a five-meter-long piece of fabric I wrapped myself into to carry Mark on my chest. It’s comfortable, it’s cozy for him, it’s secure and I have both hands free. I love it.

In some parts of the world, it is a traditional way of carrying babies. But it is not that common in Canada apparently, and people tend to stare at us when we go out. Most strangers smile when they realize I have a baby, not a bomb, strapped to me. Random strangers coo over Mark and ask me how old he is, what his name is, whether the sling is practical, etc. I don’t mind questions—to be honest, I’m actually proud of Mark, he is a cute baby and I’m happy to show him.

But I could do without the dumb comments.

“No way this kid is comfortable like that.”

Trust me, he is. When something bothers Mark, he lets us know by screaming. It is an effective protest method. Right now, he is sleeping quietly against my breast—and my boobs are comfy, don’t you dare contradict me.

“How old is he? Like, two days old?”

Yes, of course, I have a two-day-old baby and I’m shopping at the mall, buying socks was a priority for me after giving birth.

“Can he move?”

It’s a sling, lady, not a straitjacket!

“Doesn’t look very secure…”

Want me to jump around to prove to you it is?

People are strange. Why don’t they mind their own business? When did it become socially acceptable to tell strangers what to do? What are they trying to prove? It’s hard enough being a new mother; you don’t need sanctimonious comments—you already tend to second-guess yourself a lot because babies don’t come with instruction manuals. You are tired, and slightly emotional and you are adjusting to a new life. Random dumb comments and unwanted advice from misinformed strangers don’t help—meaningful advice from true friends or experienced people do.

Oh well. I guess everyone is a baby expert but me. Hey, I’m only the mother, after all!

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