On Monday, our sweet Callum boy turned 5 years old. It’s been an especially sentimental week for me, wondering at the amazement of getting to be Mama to this boy, and sort of stunned by the rate at which time is passing. Thanks to a leap year, this year his birthday fell on the same day of the week as he was born. It made it all the easier for me to think about exactly what I was doing 5 years earlier.
… eating that plate of extra Pad Thai after church on Sunday, and feeling certain halfway through that it was going to successfully smoke this baby out.
… feeling frustrated that my stop & start labor was just a fake-out on Monday morning, and my midwife telling me to “just go watch The Price is Right or something. She was right, and the tool of distraction and trying to ignore my labor was all it took to kick things in high gear.
… feeling shocked a few hours later to be holding my new baby boy who was born with what looked like baby sized Lee Press-On Nails and a smushed nose, like a little prize-fighter. Unlike his big sister who gave us a little scare because she needed some help getting her first breath, sweet Callum accepted life outside the womb graciously and so was placed and remained skin-to-skin with his mama without interruption or separation.
For many people who gave birth in a hospital in decades past, the buzz about “skin to skin” may sound odd and unfamiliar. Many people think they would prefer to meet their baby for the first time after they are cleaned, diapered and swaddled. However, there are some amazing benefits of babies enjoying uninterrupted skin to skin time with their mama for the first full hour after birth. It helps to regulate baby’s body temperature and blood sugar and causes an exchange of hormones that creates a loving bond between the two. Those same lovey-dovey hormones also help mama’s uterus to shrink down and keep her from bleeding too much after birth. It’s not just a lovely reward for the hard work of pregnancy & labor — it’s great for the health and well being of both mom and baby. This benefit goes way beyond that first hour of labor, and aren’t only good for moms and babies, but dads and babies too! On the packing list for their hospital bag, I always tell couples in my classes to include a button-up shirt for dad. In the case that a cesarean birth becomes necessary and mama can’t hold baby right away, skin to skin against dad’s chest can give baby that warmth, and produces the same lovey-dovey hormones in dads. Beyond that first hour, in the days and weeks following skin-to-skin helps parents to bond with their babies and tells mom’s body to produce breastmilk. All around amazing!
Back to Callum though. Now, five years later, he is still our sweet skin-to-skin boy. Even though our breastfeeding relationship was cut short by his baby sister’s arrival, he decided that day that he would make up for the loss of that guaranteed skin-to-skin time by becoming our little “tucker.” His hand always finds its way up a sleeve or just inside your collar for a warm and comfortable tuck. When my mom came to stay with us and help when Clementine was born, she left with the neckline of every one of her shirts stretched out from Callum’s tucking ways.
Whether by tucking, or asking his Daddy to put him to bed shirtless, he loves the comfort and warmth of spending time with us skin-to-skin. It’s bittersweet to see him grow, to still enjoy many of these tender times with him, but to realize that unless I’m going to be like the mom in the “I love you Forever” book, (I might!), there will be a day when tucking and skin-to-skin with Callum will be a thing of the past.
Today while I was working around the house, I decided to tune into the webcast of Adventures in Mission’s staff worship gathering they have each Monday in the Gainesville office. We have a standing virtual invitation each week, and can join in live or watch later. However, today was actually the first time I tuned in. I don’t know if the song they sang was penned ahead of time by an artist, or just improvised on the spot by the Holy Spirit, but here were the words …
“There’s nothing in between us. Just skin on skin. It’s like I’m walking with you in the garden again. “
Those words fell so sweetly on my heart. I’m really lucky that not only to I have the precious memories of getting to hold my own babies skin-to-skin, but I’ve gotten to witness dozens of other mamas & babies enjoy those precious moments together. To ponder the thought of God lovingly holding me that near, with nothing between us … it takes my breath away. For many people, their idea of God has to do with him as Holy, with us as sinners. But before sin, there was the garden. Before hiding behind clothes, there was unashamed nakedness. Before we could wonder if we were worthy or struggle with depression or doubt that we could belong to God, He created us. He created us to love us.
Before I ever had to discipline any of my kids, before they ever once lied to me or disappointed me, I held them skin-to-skin. And it imprinted us both. They belong to me, and my love for them precedes and exceeds anything else I think about them.
I needed to be reminded of that today — that God’s love for me is more powerful than anything I can do that could separate me from Him. That his love precedes and exceeds anything I could possibly do to disappoint Him.