It is a cold morning and the world is buzzing outside. It has been a disrupted night with many seemingly endless feeding times, winding and changing our newborn baby.
The emotions are so many and so different that we can hardly name them. In any case, we don’t seem to have time to analyse our feelings as we seem to have changed our priorities and now the word is ‘just do it’.
Not an easy task, but now the new parent (is is the father? or the mother?, or perhaps the primary caregiver?) has decided to let the world go around, forget about the dust accumulating under the bed, the many teacups piling on the kitchen sink and put in silence the messages coming from so many social platforms.
The time is now! and somewhere inside god-knows-where, this parent senses that it goes by so quickly, or at least that’s what all grannies seem to say: ‘they’re babies for such a short time! or ‘they grow so quickly!’ or ‘make the best of it, they’re babies only for only a few months’… so, there must be something there if they all say the same thing even if they don’t know you!
So, the parent makes the room warm and cosy, gets the high quality vegetable oil, puts the phone in airplane mode and, oh crumbs! forgot to prepare the relaxing music! Never mind. Cooing and humming will do.
So, he/she observes the baby, gets close and asks her/him if baby would like a massage, knowing that it is a matter of two; not ‘me wanting to massage you because this is when I can do it’, but rather ‘are we both ready for a special treat?’
Baby is awake and alert, makes eye contact and seems to respond to the question. Father (mother) soothingly holds baby and starts the ritual: the warming of the oil in the palms of the hands near baby’s ears, the rhythmic strokes on each area of baby’s body, starting with the legs so baby does not feel so invaded, the knowledge that this is a sequence that has been developed over many years, the attention to the response and the cues given by baby and the unfolding of the wonderful experience and special time to communicate both verbally and non-verbally…
A so the confidence in your ability to care for and nurture your baby grows. And so, baby feels securely attached, increases her/his levels of relaxation and achieves longer sleep. And so, you gain a deeper understanding of baby’s behaviour, the crying and the body language…
–Upps! is that a little wee that has escaped? Never mind, that’s because you are relaxed now. I’ll put a dry nappy underneath if you want to wet it too.
-And that reminds me: you had a bad night with a colic or something like that, something I don’t understand, you don’t understand but gosh, doesn’t it make us worry?
-I will massage your tummy very gently with the ‘colic routine’ I learnt in my Baby Massage classes and you will see how it helps you to move your bowels, how I will dissolve those gases with my fingertips… Yes, I know, sweetheart, all these functions are so new to you tiny body!
-You will see how quickly it matures and I’ll be there to help you all the way through.
Baby turns her(his) head away and starts looking at something else. Baby had enough and parent knows it. Did not do the toes, did not do the face nor the chest… baby had enough.
So parent makes the goodbye contact, thanks baby, him/herself , life and everything that comes to mind and starts dressing baby again.
Something deep has happened. Is this what they call bonding?