A while ago I wrote a short article, a diary if you will, for A’s Babywearing Story about postnatal depression and grief. The loss of someone close can be a major trigger for a condition that can be fatal. I am lucky; I had attentive and extended care of perceptive midwives, a brilliant health visitor and an alert GP. I say lucky because I realise how rare that safety net exists for many who grapple with PND.
I was musing about babywearing in general, how much it occupies my mind. It’s less about buying, more about the act of wearing, the relationship with my baby but also about the camaraderie, the conversations with fellow wearers, the reading of posts on the brand groups, holidaying of wraps and sometimes the trading.
Looking back it became an arc of involvement, starting roughly around summer last year as I searched for an identity that, if temporarily, could replace one bound up in a researcher level of interest in fashion, fabric and designers. High end babywearing is a very good fit for a personality who quests for fine detail about wrap production, blends, wrapping qualities and representative photography. The thoroughness I approach this comes from the slightly obsessive tendencies of my father; useful qualities when you are also a researcher.
Then I considered the days as they go, early mornings with the girls busying for the day, carrying Smallest to our childminder whilst holding my eldest’s hand, immersing my day with work, browsing the groups on my phone as I commute back for the walk home with the girls. The bedtime routines, dinner, a catch up with some councillor work or work-work…and then the yawning gap towards bedtime.
I realised I fill it with the activities that revolve around babywearing for I know that if I keep my mind busy, if I leave no space for anything else to come through to the forefront of my mind, I can avoid the thought that my father is no longer here. Life carries on cruelly without him.
I examine the timing of the arc, the early summer onwards and can trace it back to the darkness of the previous autumn/winter lifting to a sun strewn grey. I can see my mind beginning to emerge from the isolating blankness that PND manifests as, and having the first flashes of a life without my father.
I scrabbled for something else, something to grasp and hold onto, to focus my mind upon.
I sit here weighing up whether that constitutes a running away from the yawning gap my father has left behind; the gap I skirt around with my hand shielding my vision. I’m not looking, not looking, not looking. Perhaps it is a hurling of myself into a quest for beauty and nourishment; interactions that part fill the hole; and that is a positive. Perhaps it is both.
What I am learning is that I still avoid the interactions that mean any confrontation or acknowledgement of this loss. I am working on that.
In the meantime I shall stay immersed in the relative safety, and the joys, of babywearing.