Monday, May 02, 2011


Skin to skin contact is kind of amazing.

A nurse friend with a newborn says that when the baby won't stop crying, she strips off her own clothes, she strips the baby down and then puts her in the Moby wrap because she needs the skin-to-skin hormones this produces so she won't drop the baby off at the fire station.

This last month or so of pregnancy is proving pretty hard for me.  I'm still exercising regularly and going to yoga.  I meet up with friends for coffee, especially friends with babies, now that I'm only working one day a week.  I see my therapist and am going to church again.  I'm doing all of the things that you are supposed to do to stay emotionally and physically healthy.

And yet, there are days when I cannot stop feeling panicky and like the tears are just below the surface if anyone cared to prod.

Yesterday was one of those days.

Actually, it's pretty amazing to think about (if not to live through).  It's easy to think of this last trimester as simple in terms of the baby's development.  The baby puts on weight and the lungs finish developing.  However, on Saturday, I felt fine.  On Sunday, I was flooded with hormones.  It is not static in my belly.  It is a highly coordinated effort on the part of my body to create a complex living creature.  We are not simply gaining weight.

So, I woke up in pain because hauling my girth from side to side in the bed makes my back hurt by the time morning comes.  Most mornings, I'm OK with this, but yesterday it caused me despair that set me off on the course of the day.  I tried to focus on just one task at a day, willing myself not to think about an entire day like this, which would be overwhelming, but instead just thinking about unloading the dishwasher.  Folding the towels.  Showering.  Answering one email.  Not panicking.

Don't ask me what I was panicking about.  My actual life was not the cause of these feelings.  The hormones were.  Oh, once the feeling is there, I can generate a list of things worth panicking about.  And they are valid.  Jacob is an amazing partner and never treats me like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill.  He says, "If you set up the Netflix to watch a Monk, I'll eat my lunch, rub your feet and then fold the laundry."  Then, he gets his own lunch, gets the laundry AND sets up the Netflix because I haven't lifted my head from the couch and have, in fact, begun crying.

But the foot rub was magical.

The tears stopped and the panicky feeling eased.  The marvel at his enjoyment/jealousy of Monk's idiosyncrasies that is always present surfaced into actual laughter from me.

Skin to skin contact.

I know that we all rightly wonder how single moms parent without going crazy.  Not having anyone to share responsibility with for the rigors of parenting is a daunting prospect.

I don't know how single moms get through pregnancy without a partner to touch.

That's how I went through the day yesterday.  Put fabric away on the shelves.  Put my hands on my husband's shoulders.  Put beans in the crock pot for church.  Sit in the chair next to him checking the computer with my hand on his knees.  Read my book.  Go for a walk holding hands.

And when I begged him with my eyes and I tried to calmly state, "I would love it if you slept with me tonight but I understand that you have work tomorrow," he brought his pillow out of the guest room and spooned up next to me.

Neither of us was physically happy this morning: he had dark circles under his eyes and my back was screaming in pain.  We have gotten very used to the physical selfishness of separate beds as I have grown increasingly thrash-y.  But I don't feel any panic as I type this.  I, in fact, feel capable of writing, instead of weighted down by the items higher on the priority list that should be completed in this time.

8 hours of skin-to-skin contact worked its magic.


Preserving Beauty said...

skin to skin is a threshold to a full life. i love/need my skin to skin time and that time misses your hugs.

Kate said...

As the mother of a 7 month old I can tell you that even now, the skin to skin contact does both of us a world of good.