Part 4 of a series of 8: Carrying our little LF#5 (Loin Fruit Number Five) in my body is the ultimate in nurturing touch. A tiny body wrapped up inside of mine. Bouncing. Rolling. Rocking. Swaying. Swirling. Surrounded by warmth. We are hoping to have another gentle homebirth for our new little one . We will enjoy our Babymoon as long as we can, remaining in bed and nursing for 2-3 weeks while my body heals. Of course we have made preparations (as much as anyone can prepare for the unknown at any rate) in case of an emergency need to transfer our care to a hospital and are prepared to do whatever it takes to make even the most medicalized situation a high-touch, high-compassion one. No matter what happens with our pregnancy and birth, we know that we are committed to our attached and connected parenting principles. We trust that our new baby will be lovingly connected to our family even if that means finding new ways to apply the attachment parenting principles to whatever circumstances LF#5 is welcomed into the world under.
But what about the rest of us? We are already dealing with situations which are challenging our ability to stay connected. It seems as if the past few months could be defined by one word: Distance. Distance keeps our family apart while Sir Hubby attempts to balance his business, his father’s health, and our family. Distance has my son several hours away at college. Our older girls are both at ages where they are pulling away (in healthy ways) to explore independence, self-directed learning, and social pursuits without holding our hands. But the biggest distance I feel is the one between my little T-Bird and I.
T-Bird, a homebirthed babe who enjoyed the benefits of two fully-attached parents, round-the-clock access to warm milk, being worn, and sleep sharing, is secure enough now at 18 months to accept temporary breaks from our usual style of parenting while a crisis is averted here or there. However, the temporary has become the permanent state of things and T-Bird has found herself facing distance from the things she loves most. Her Daddy is away from home more and more. Babywearing has long ceased to be something that I can do safely or comfortably (which makes me very sad since babywearing has been right up there with breastfeeding on my list of Things I Feel Strongly About as an Attachment Parent). And speaking of breastfeeding, during the second trimester of our pregnancy her beloved na-na’s ceased to produce milk (although it does not deter her from nursing several times a day) However, she has to navigate around the belly to even reach them…which creates its own barrier between us. Not to mention the mixed feelings she must have seeing my winces of pain and discomfort from her latching-on to my tender nipples and pressing her chubby knees into my expanding uterus. At night, T-Bird has transitioned to her “nest” next to our bed since my elaborate array of pregnancy pillows no longer allows for safe sleep sharing. Needless to say, everyone is feeling left out, needy, and cranky lately.
All of these factors have led T-Bird and I to a new bedtime routing which meets her vital need for human touch and connection…and also provides something invaluable to me.
We call it “Kiss You to Sleep” and it is just that. T-Bird nurses for a few minutes to get her na-na fix, and then we snuggle into her nest and lay face to face so that I can gently and slowly kiss her forehead a million times…and then her eyelids…and then her button nose…and her soft round cheek…T-Bird whispers “Momma” in her tiny voice full of absolute security in the fact that she is safe and cared for. Her dark lashes flutter as her lids grow heavy. She succumbs trustfully into slumber knowing that I am always near.
All the while I get the honor of breathing in the marked-in-your-memory-for-all-time scent of her freshly-bathed baby smell (the sweet smell you can still catch a hint of every time you hug them for the rest of your life). Even when you know that your toddler actually smells like cookies and dirt— for a brief moment during the most tender of hugs a momma can still catch the slightest whiff of this magical and elusive baby smell. I treasure our Kiss You to Sleep time even more than I treasure the closeness that nursing has brought us. They are some of the most honest and truly felt moments of my entire day. As I lay next to my little one –who is sound asleep with a with a blissed-out smile on her sweet face– I feel her breath on my face and can spend a few extra moments appreciating the blessings in my life and letting the stresses of my day melt away.
It provides me with just enough of a recharge that I am ready to tackle story time and teeth-brushing battles with our six-year old, and hopefully pass on a little of the bliss to her as I linger a moment too long while I brush her hair back from her forehead with my kiss–catching the slightest whiff of her babyhood— and tuck her gangly limbs into her nest. I return to the living room and send my oldest a text: <3 <3 goodnight <3 <3 and then kiss the top of my 15-year-old’s pink-and-platinum head as she stumbles off to bed with her latest vampire novel under her arm. Sir Hubby and I can then catch up on our day, either in person or on the phone, depending on what part of the state he happens to be in.
By morning, the chaos has returned and the cats need to be fed at an ungodly hour, and there are diapers to tend to, and breakfast negotiations, and messes to clean up, and homeschooling challenges, and appointments to be kept. But then I brush past Sir Hubby– who made it home in the middle of the night from his father’s side and is now on his way to the office to begin work– and he sweeps me into a hug. Or I get a text from my son, Sry I missed you last nite. Love you muches <3. Or Ella laying her head on my shoulder and telling me about her weird dream. Or a goofy toothless smile and a speedy kiss from Bug as she runs past. Or a sweet snuggle with T-Bird. Or a flurry of kung-fu moves from LF#5. I realize how vital touch is for me, too. I have always thought of nurturing touch as something that I was obligated to provide to my children in order to help them thrive…but it is what keeps me connected and feeling loved and appreciated, too.
In what ways do you make time for nurturing touch? For you and for your little ones?
Read the other posts in this series:
Part 1: Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
Part 2: Feed With Love and Respect
Part 3: Respond With Sensitivity