This post on the importance of touch at A Holy Experience resonated with me today.
Since Sophia was born, I’ve been holding her as much as I can. Even though I was shaking uncontrollably in the recovery room—from shock and pain I suppose as much as the coldness of the room—I asked the nurse and Dom to help me maneuver the small, still unwashed form in my arms onto my breast where she latched on for the first time and nursed while I stroked her skin and studied her face. She had to go back to the nursery for her bath of course while they also bathed me and moved me to a private room; but I had her with me again as soon as could be. I kept her near as much as possible, in my arms as much as I could. Nursing and sleeping and wide awake staring.
Then they took her away to the special care unit because she was running a fever, dehydrated. Such a hard separation. I went up as often as I could though being there meant my feet and calves swelled to the point that I could hardly walk. Once we got home, I held her more and more. Sure, I hand her off occasionally to my mom, to Dom. I put her down in the bassinet, in the swing so I can sleep for a longer stretch. She needs me. I need her.
And then there’s Bella. She’s not a huggy, cuddly child. She’s a kiss and run, grab my leg and hold on for a second and then off again kind of girl. She orbits. The exceptions have always been when she was nursing, which over time dwindled to naptime and bedtime. Even after she weaned, she still had to be cuddled to sleep. At naptime at least she’d fall asleep in my arms and I often take a few extra minutes to hold that sleeping body which awake can never stop moving, squirming, kicking, poking.
And so this past week—these past two weeks really—has been hard. I can’t pick her up of course. And I can’t hold her on my lap. And even when she sits next to me on the couch she’s all feet kicking, knees poking, elbows shoving, fingers pinching, arms grabbing. Not comfortable at all and usually I end up having to speak sharply to her when she gets a little too excited, comes a little too close to my incision. She doesn’t understand.
And there was this moment today when I was holding Sophia in one arm and trying to read to Bella who reached up and pinched my shoulder. “Ouch!” I yelled. And again reiterated that she has to be gentle, that she hurt mama. I asked her to kiss it as she asks me to kiss her when she gets hurt. And she was soon bored with the book and down seeking another toy to play with. And I realized that now whenever she sits with me it ends up like this with her unintentionally hurting me. She’s just an active toddler; but I miss our quiet snuggly naptimes.
And she must miss them too, though Grandma and Daddy are giving her lots of cuddles when they put her down. Recently she’s been demanding so many kisses, even falling deliberately and then begging Dom to kiss her hand or knee.
And so tonight I grabbed her as she was running past and pulled her close to me on the couch. And hugged her and kissed her and rubbed her back. And for a minute she snugged close to me and returned the affection. Yeah I need to do that more often. She needs me as much as Sophie does, even if not so obviously.