29 Feb

Babywearing Saved Me: Even The Tricky Ones

Thank you to Tiffany Breen (member of BWI of Grand Rapids) for her story. The below story contains potential loss, grief, joy, and babywearing victories.

So this babywearing thing is pretty cool. The carriers are so handy and the wraps are stunning. But babywearing is so much more for me as a mamma and for my sweet Roslyn. Lets start at the beginning…

At 26 weeks pregnant, we heard for the first time that our precious girl was not going to survive. She wasn’t moving in utero at all. I mean no kicks or wiggles, not even a finger. Twice a week, in an ultrasound, we would see our Roslyn in exactly the same position. In short, it was assumed that I was breathing for Roslyn and after the umbilical cord was cut, she wouldn’t have the muscles needed to breathe by herself. So we cancelled baby showers. We grieved. We cried. We feared. We talked about autopsies with doctors. We researched funerals. We scheduled her arrival.

We also soon found out she had other plans.

Roslyn in the NICU

At 34 weeks, Roslyn made her entrance to the world. I grieved so hard as they pulled her from my tummy… my last moments with her. But she fought. And kept fighting. An ever so tiny cry, so small I couldn’t hear it. We couldn’t believe it! We were making it to the NICU! Every hour was so precious (and terrifying too.) Then every day was precious. Every week. Then every month.

Parents with Roslyn in the NICU

Then we brought our girl home at 2 months—like our real home, under one roof:

Tiffany at home with Roslyn on her chest

We quickly started the world of genetic testing, numerous doctor appointments, and lots and lots of therapy. Roslyn ate nothing by mouth as she didn’t have the muscle strength to even close her mouth at that time, but I pumped away day and night. This was the first “normal” thing I felt I had control over to provide for my sweet girl. Roslyn could not play with toys, turn her head, or really do anything.

One day, while talking to Roslyn’s physical therapist, I mentioned I wanted to wear Roslyn but had no idea where to start. Her arms and legs had locked joints and moving through stretching was often painful. She had zero head or core control. The PT recommended our local BWI of Grand Rapids group. So I put on my big girl pants and brought Roslyn to our first meet-up at nearly 5 months old and 7 lbs.

I was terrified. Terrified to fail at figuring this out. What if I couldn’t do it? If nothing would work? In stepped an amazing educator who supported me through my first ring sling. And you know what? A few moments later I had a little squish wrapped close and sleeping. Sleeping! I cried. The educator cried. People around me cried. I did it! And in that moment I was normal. I fit in with all the other mommas loving their sweet babies. I left with a new confidence… and a baby wearing obsession.

Roslyn in a ring sling in the kitchenTiffany wearing Roslyn and big sister wearing her doll

I went to the meet-ups every month. I usually ended up crying every time because I felt so confident and successful. I loved the people at the group, the educators, volunteers, and the supportive crowd that filled the room. I felt like people wanted to get to know me. In those moments, I didn’t feel like a special needs mom, I felt like a hip baby wearing mom. I learned so, so much. I found carriers that allowed Roslyn to face forward and see the world straight on.

Tiffany wearing Roslyn, facing forward, with a yellow running vest over both.Wearing Roslyn forward-facing to smell the flowers

I found comfy carriers for the car that let me be hands free in the grocery store. Suddenly I was wearing Roslyn all the time: at appointments, family gatherings, playing with her sister, and even during inpatient hospital stays.

Tiffany wearing Roslyn with big sister wearing a doll
Tiffany wearing Roslyn while the family picks out a Christmas tree

I also got braver and more creative in my wearing. And since Roslyn is unable to move herself, this is great exercise for her and does wonders for her vestibular system. When I wear Roslyn, I can be her arms and head control. And of course, it was comforting when she was upset and I could get my daily snuggles in. It was normal. We were normal.

Tiffany wearing Roslyn on her back in a frame pack, with a head support device

It’s hard to put into words what baby wearing and my particular group have provided Roslyn and I. We always say “wear all the babies.” I like to add “even the tricky ones.”

7 thoughts on “Babywearing Saved Me: Even The Tricky Ones

  1. Really appreciated your honesty and the hope you give to all moms. I, too, believed in baby wearing, way back in the 70’s when we were creating our own on sewing machines. Wore 2 babies with the one I made, And their daddy wore them too. We all benefit from sharing of physical closeness. Good Luck to you, Roslyn, also to your other little baby wearing daughter, and of course, papa. KathyvM

  2. This just made me cry. My 16 month old has little head control or movement of his arms and legs and I wear him all the time. We are working but to back carries due to his poor core strength we are taking it slow. But I know how you feel baby wearing has definitely saved my life.

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