#1 "Try making it yourself. The one you’d love."

#1. The story behind making of Konny
"Try making it yourself. The one you’d love"

I was an ordinary office worker in my thirties who loved basketball and pilates. After getting married, I became pregnant and worked into my ninth month of pregnancy. I had to pick out items in the maternity checklist as I got closer to the due date but I felt helpless due to the the lack of information. I went to baby fairs and did a lot of research on the web, scrambling to check off items in the checklist by shopping for one item per day. But the real problem was that I couldn't figure out what strollers or baby carriers to buy despite endless web surfing and review readings.

While pregnant, me having no idea about life after delivery…

I went out in a rush and found a stroller at a baby fair, but was still struggling to find a baby carrier I liked even as the due date was fast approaching. One day, one of my friends gave me a sling type carrier made from a fabric as a present, saying, “I heard this sling carrier is quite popular, although many say it won't last long. Still, I heard it’s really handy to hold newborns.” As I did more research, many actually did point out that it can't be used for a long time. I thought I should buy another one just in case the carrier wears out. Not knowing which one to buy, I ended up buying a popular and expensive one that others seemed to favor. In the end, an imported baby carrier that cost $200 and was advertised to be used by the European Royals, was my last purchased item before delivery.

Life after delivery was a series of painful days of loneliness that I had never even imagined. I truly came to admire all mothers out there and was reminded of the famous Korean folk story, The Tale of Shim Chong, in which Shim Chong, a poor blind farmer, raised his daughter alone, begging the women in the village to breastfeed his daughter. Each day, I had to breastfeed my baby eight times, change at least ten diapers and repeated the cycle of laying him down, putting him to sleep and bathing him. I didn't even have time to eat. It was evening by the time I finally held myself together after a long day. My reflection in the mirror looked awful... Still, I was happy, seeing my baby grow each day.

Then, as it turned 40 days after giving birth, the backside of my neck started to stiffen. ‘Maybe I'm just tired,’ I thought. But as I twisted my neck, I suddenly felt a warm sensation spreading down my neck. I couldn't look down or turn my head to the side. Two years after being hospitalized due to a cervical bulging disc, I was diagnosed with reherniation and asked to be hospitalized again. But I couldn’t, because I was worried that my breast milk may dry up and felt bad about asking my husband to take care of our newborn all by himself.

That was the beginning of days of an unprecedented level of pain. I had to take medicine and make regular visits to the hospital to get treatment and physical therapy. I could no longer wear the one-shoulder sling due to severe shoulder and neck pain. It even caused back pain as I carried around my baby who was over 5kg (11 lbs) on one shoulder.

Finally, I took out a bigger baby carrier that I bought before delivery, believing now was the time to use it. But wearing it was excessively cumbersome as it required too many fastenings and undoings. I had to be involved in a totally different kind of hassle compared to wearing sling carriers. When taking my baby out to get him vaccinated, I struggled to carry my coat, a diaper bag and a large bag packed with other baby stuff. To make matters worse, the carrier was unfoldable and didn't fit in my already-large bag. Plus, the carrier became loose after my husband wore it, so I had to adjust the size each time before wearing it. I then wondered, “Is there really nothing easier and simpler than this?” And I realized big, heavy and expensive did not necessarily mean they were better.

All I could do was endless research on the web and whine to people around me. Then, moms who finished using baby carriers passed theirs down to me. I got a hip-seat type and the one with a waist belt, which were widely used in Korea. I added some more that were known to be light and comfy to my collection-- a fabric carrier popular in Japan, a sling carrier with the ring famous in the US, portable baby carriers made in Korea, a baby wrap, an imported baby carrier known as a simpler version of the original baby wrap and Korea’s traditional baby carrier called Podaegi. In all, I tried nine different baby carriers. Now was a good time to make a decision and stick to one, but I just couldn’t settle. I jotted down the reasons as below.

1. Hip-seat type
-Suffer from back pain as the pelvis gets pushed to the back due to the baby’s weight.
-Feel stiffness and even numbness in the pubic bones after holding my baby for a long time.
-Unable to sit or use the toilet while holding the baby in it.
-So ugly… Makes me ashamed of my look.
-Won’t fit in the bag. Have to carry it around, dangling on my waist.

2. Classic baby carrier with velcro and buckles on a waist-belt
-So many buckles to fasten.
-Cumbersome to wear or remove when the baby cries.
-Hard to reach the back buckle over my wing bones.
-My waist gets all sweaty.
-The sound of undoing the velcro startles the baby awake when putting him to bed.
-Ugly, unfoldable and unable to sit while wearing it.

3. Carriers with narrow shoulder sashes (common for most carriers)
-The baby's weight imposes an uneven burden on the shoulders, accompanying neck pain.

4. One-shoulder carriers (a.k.a. Ring sling for newborns)
-Lose body balance while carrying the baby on one shoulder, making inner waist sore.
-Shoulder hurts after carrying the baby for a long time.
-Excellent portability.

5. Baby wrap
-If worn properly, it’s highly stable and doesn’t cause much waist or shoulder pain.
-Baby wails each time as it is cumbersome and takes time to wear.
-Find myself dragging yards of fabric at the restaurant, almost sweeping the whole floor. Unsanitary.
-Less portable as it is relatively big.

6. Baby carriers made from a fabric
-Superior portability.
-Easy to wear.
-Shoulders hurt for people with narrow shoulders.
-Heavily reliant on the fabric. Feel hot if the fabric is thick, and it is difficult to put the baby in and out of the carrier if the fabric is inelastic.

While trying out every option to find the one…

I shared the brief pros and cons with my husband, saying, “I literally used almost ten different baby carriers, but couldn’t find a single carrier that I absolutely loved.” Then he said, “Why don't you try making one yourself? The one you’d love. If you love it, others will too.” I laughed it away and mumbled, “Yeah, that’s easy to say…” but I couldn't get his words out of my head.

I couldn't fall asleep that night, thinking. ‘If only I could develop a carrier that I love (although I had no idea what that would be…), it could be helpful to all new moms out there like me. At least that would save them time and money from testing all the available options on the market. If only I could create a baby carrier that is cute, comfy, light and yet does not cause much waist and shoulder pain!’


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