Week 1 post hospital

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So, our beautiful Uppymama Primary has come home and my little guy actually squealed when he saw what was in the post bag. In our babywearing community, many of us have ‘legacy wraps’ – special wraps that mean a lot to us, that we keep for when our babies have babies. It is pretty plain to see that this is our legacy wrap. We are unbelievably lucky.

I’ve been discharged now for a week. My mother in law came from 600kms or so to help with my transition to what is my new life. I’m feeling really good. Like, really really good. So good that I believe that with proper management of my bipolar, I can live a full, interesting, exuberant and colourful life. I deserve that. And now I’m going to remind my self that I deserve it as much as I can. Not by buying things, or using inanimate things dictate my feelings. Those things sure do make me feel good but the high I get is so fleeting. What I am focused on now is having a life full of average ups and downs. Everyone has good days. Everyone has bad days. I’m looking forward to coasting along. Levelling out.

I do feel a bit nervous about the reality of my MIL going home and me being the captain of the ship again. I’m going to write lists. Lots of them. Tick them off as I go and pat myself on the back when I’ve accomplished something. I have sewing work to catch up on and I am excited about that. Really inspired and excited.

My life is changing. Who knows where it will go next? I don’t know that’s for sure. But it is all good, I am happy to just go along for the ride.

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the power that baby wearing had on my mood

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.

tears should not be reserved only for sadness

Today something amazing happened. Today I felt like the most loved and special person ever. Today the community I deeply adore put their collective arms around me and told me what they had been up to.

What they have done has blown my mind, given me faith and actually made me see the world through new eyes. Today I can see the beauty in the world. Today I can feel the miracle of life and friendship. Today has changed my life in such an irreversible way.

This community I speak of is the international babywearing community. A huge bunch of amazing people who are actively changing the western world through keeping their babies on them, with them. Advocating attachment with their babies.  I for one, won’t stop actively trying to normalize babywearing until the day I stop walking on this earth.  The term ‘babywearing’ and ‘babywearer’ is one I would like to see less and less of – I would love to see it be naturally assumed that a new parent, or a parent of a toddler would opt for a baby carrier rather than a pram or car capsule.  Don’t get me wrong, everything has its place but seriously, there are SO many things you just can’t do or places you cannot go with a pram.  Babywearing gives you both hands free, while your prized and precious baby is safely snuggled exactly where they want to be – in their habitat – on you.  Most of all I dream of seeing more and more people putting the same amount of time into investigating what the best baby carrier is for them as they do the best pram, cot, car seat – the list goes on.  I want to see the actual word ‘baby carrier’ on the TOP of the ‘what you need when you have a baby’ list.  And I dream of seeing more ‘extended babywearing’ happening, where people continue wearing their babies beyond one year old – I still wear my 3.5yo on a daily basis (well, I did until I was admitted to hospital of course) and we both utterly adore that special time we have together.

It seems so simple to me, I have intuitively used baby carriers as a parenting tool for over 8 years now. The community has grown so much and within it there are so many people who tirelessly advocate and teach new parents and caregivers how to keep their most precious cargo on them. With them. I could rave all day about the gazillion amazing aspects of using baby carriers as a go-to parenting tool but that isn’t what this post is about.

I may have mentioned something profound that was said to me the other day. A nurse said that ‘tears shouldn’t be reserved only for sadness’. Happy tears are so amazing, they honestly are beyond explanation. All I do know is that right now, today, I feel like the luckiest woman alive.  I am loving these happy tears.

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This wrap was going to be my legacy wrap for my youngest baby. When I was admitted to hospital I had to make a choice, I had to raise the funds needed to be admitted. I chose to sell our precious hand woven and dyed (by Metamorphosis) Uppymama to help fund the costs. For my selfish side, I felt resentment but my logic won in the end and I listed her up for sale. An amazing friend offered to buy it and handle the sale for me so I didn’t have to worry about it.  Already showing her utter kindness and thoughtfulness.  I thought it was done, she would list ‘Primary’ and the wrap would be sent off to a new family, and I was ok with that, although I felt pangs of sadness when I saw pictures of it in action.

Well.  Guess what.

My amazing legacy wrap is coming home. Our community banded together to support me in ways I cannot even start to explain. They wrapped their amazing , generous and loving arms around me, and rallied together to aid with the costs and continuing costs that I will incur through living with bipolar. I have no words to convey the feelings I have inside of me right now, it isn’t actually possible for me to even begin fathoming that this is happening – let alone to me.  I feel so humbled.  And HAPPPPYYYY!

So, to each of the Aussies, the Llamas and ALL of the babywearing families that helped, from the absolute depths of my heart, thank you. You have inspired me so so much.  There really isn’t anything I can say that can even get close to the gratitude I feel.  Just, thank you. It isn’t enough, I know.  Please do know though that I will never ever forget this.  When times are hard I am going to snuggle Primary and remember the love and support I have had from so many amazing and vibrant people.  When things are tough, I am going to remember today.  And when I cry tears of happiness, I will also remember today, as it is the first day that I accepted that tears aren’t just for sadness.