Once again, I originally planned on writing about a different topic, but then, well, life happened. Yesterday I ended up at the Pediatrician’s office with my sixteen-month old. I swear, this poor little guy just can’t catch a break. And let me tell you, this kid does NOT like the doctor’s office. He’s been there so many times in the past year for colds, coughs, ear infections, you name it, that as soon as we get into the office, he starts to get anxious. And when the nurse comes in? Forget it. He is in full-blown panic mode, eyes wide, big, fat tears rolling down his face, clawing at me and holding on for dear life. The irrational side of me wants to shield him from the nurse and keep him protected from a situation that is obviously terrifying him. Luckily I have a (somewhat) rational side that holds him out to her, letting her poke and prod him, because after all, it’s for his own good. When I scoop him back in my arms, he hides his sticky, wet face in my breast. I stroke his cheek, and whisper, “it’s ok.” His breathing slows down and I feel his body relax. I keep stroking his face. “It’s ok.” He picks his face up, a string of drool still connecting us, and he smiles and giggles. He knows it’s ok.
Do you ever think about what your touch can do? How, with a single stroke of your hand, you can quiet, calm, reassure, and comfort? Do ever think about how powerful your touch is?
The practice of Kangaroo Care has always fascinated me. If you’re not familiar with the concept, it is a technique practiced on newborn, usually preterm, infants wherein the infant is held, skin-to-skin, with an adult (source: Wikipedia). As stated in an article by Holly Richardson on the Midwifery Today website, “The benefits of kangaroo care are numerous: The baby has a stable heart rate (no bradycardia), more regular breathing (a 75 percent decrease in apneic episodes), improved oxygen saturation levels, no cold stress, longer periods of sleep, more rapid weight gain, more rapid brain development, reduction of “purposeless” activity, decreased crying, longer periods of alertness, more successful breastfeeding episodes, and earlier hospital discharge.”
All of those are real, tangible, medical benefits. Just from skin-to-skin contact. It’s so simple, yet so incredibly powerful. And the impact of a mother’s touch doesn’t dissipate after the newborn stage. There are times when my older son just needs to bury his face in me (the same place as his little brother does – that special, crook-of-the-neck spot that was designed just for them). He breathes. I breathe. He plays with my hair. And then – boom! He’s off! He’s back to running around, being a four-year old. This will never change. My own mother’s touch, thirty-seven years later, still gives me reassurance. There is something so calming in those rough, calloused hands, something that says to me, silently, “it’s ok.”
Mamas, don’t ever underestimate the power of your touch. Don’t ever forget the benefit you give with a simple gesture: a quick stroke of the cheek, an embrace, a caress. Your touch heals. Restores. Calms. Your touch is magic.