So they say that home is where the heart is. I am back home now, trying to adjust after spending three days shy of a month in hospital. I now realize that home isn’t where the heart is. The heart is inside me, and where I am happy. As I make the transition I learn more about my self. I ask my self, if we didn’t live physically where we did, would I still feel like I’m at home? Would my heart be there? The answer is so simple. It is yes. The other four humans that make my family is what keeps my heart beating and happy.
I’ve spoken once about baby wearing already and the profound and amazing souls that make our community a real community. I want to talk now about how I believe babywearing saved my life pre-diagnosis. It is a scientific fact that wearing your baby can reduce the severity of post natal depression. People with bipolar spend time in different moods – depression through to mania. I believe that the simple act of having my baby on me, as often as possible, not only helped regulate them but they helped regulate me. I distinctly remember times where I would be feeling particularly at odds with my self and would put my baby in a carrier and would feel soothed. I felt like it eased my mood. It leveled me. I guess what I’m getting at is that babywearing is a form of therapy.
One of my children has Autism, and he attends many many appointments in relation to his early intervention. Through these appointments I have learned a lot too – both with his speech therapy and his occupational therapy. One thing I would like to talk a bit about it something called ‘proprioceptive’ therapy. The Proprioceptive System is something we all have, and in laymans terms, it is part of the central nervous system and helps to regulate ourselves internally by using our muscles to overcome our nervous system being overloaded by external forces (stimulation). Basically it is varied exercises that you can do to enable your body and mind to avoid the ‘fight or flight’ reflex (aka ‘over-stimulation’), which is very common with people who are on the spectrum.
I have discovered that personally, certain proprioceptive activities can have a calming effect on me too – and you would have to agree with me that swinging on a hammock is pretty relaxing, and you can feel pretty amazing afterward. There is jumping too – this can remove the excess energy built up and help your body regulate again. It is a range of simple (or not so simple – the ‘therabrush’ being a not-so-simple example) activities we can all do to calm ourselves, bring us back to ‘earth’ and ground us. Some activities have a longer lasting effect on your nervous system, some are shorter.
Our OT is a great woman, and she believes that my son is so well regulated because I wore him so much as an infant. His first ride in a pram was on his 2nd birthday and he thought it was hilarious! As mentioned, I wore him for up to 8hrs a day, and this was way before we had an inkling (other than my intuition) that he was on the spectrum. She mentioned that the simple act of wearing your baby could be counted as a proprioceptive activity. She has a baby herself, and is checking this out for herself because it is well worth investigating, that is for sure.
I feel like I need to add here that I am NOT a qualified Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist. This is my observation as a parent.
So anyway, there have been ‘connections’ made in certain circles of people that believe that bipolar and ASD are somehow connected (when talking about a bipolar mother and ASD child). So why wouldn’t proprioceptive activities work for us? I know they work for me.
One thing I do know, and I know a lot of the people that use slings, wraps or buckle carrier for their babies, for whatever reason they choose, will agree. It does ‘something’ for you. Take away the fact that you have two hands free, you can go different places that a pram doesn’t allow… take all that away. Next time you put your baby into a carrier, think about how it makes you FEEL. Think about how it makes you connect with something that doesn’t have a name. Think about how it makes you feel level. Calm. Think about it, really think about it.
My youngest is nearly 4 now, and my babywearing days are nearing an end. I think about this all the time. I know for sure that babywearing my babies helped regulate my mood. Now I have to figure out a way, somehow, something, that can offer me the same regulation that wearing my babies did.