On any given day, I have a baby in my arms 95.64% of the time. I’m no mathematician and I haven’t logged in actual hours, but it sure feels that way. Now, this is not a complaint. When you have twins, chances of having a baby in your arms is fairly high. Heck, having just one baby pretty much means you should not expect to be hands-free for the first three months, minimum.
The first two weeks of my twins’ lives were spent in Neonatal Intensive Care. That is no way to start life, but there you have it. Premature babies do not get to go cuddle with Mom within minutes/ hours of being born. They don’t get put to the breast. The only hands touching them are hands of doctors and nurses. The only touches they get are from these good folk administering something into their tiny bodies, or hooking them up to machines and IVs. The hands that change their diapers or give them cup feeds (if they’re off the feeding tube), are hands of nurses, not Mom.
I spent a lot of time in NICU. The first couple of days, I watched them in incubators, too scared to touch them, too scared not to. I had to ask a nurse every time I wanted to hold either one of them. The process of moving them from incubator to my arms usually took at least five minutes, given that we had to navigate wires and tubes.
As they grew stronger, I took every second I had in NICU, to hold each of my babies. I put them on my chest, having been advised by the kind nurses that kangaroo care helps babies get stronger. The remaining time I had before I rushed off home to my older kids, were spent breastfeeding. (Side note: breastfeeding preemies is really hard.)
There have been studies and articles and old wives tales about what touch can do for babies. But no one told me about what touch does for mothers.
I don’t think I would have survived those two weeks, if I couldn’t touch them. Each finger on their smooth skin, unmarred by needles, was a balm to my soul. Each cuddle healed my heart, hurting and guilty for birthing them early (and I know it’s not my fault as such). Each nursing session made me feel like I was helping them on their way to getting stronger. Every touch made me feel closer to them, especially the nights when I went to bed, full and aching breasts reminding me that my babies were not at home.
So yes, I have a baby (or two) in my arms most of the time now: I eat, type, and work with one hand regularly, and by golly, am I grateful for that.