When the twins were six months old, I left them overnight for the first time. I was still nursing, and still only sleeping 1-2 hours a night. Needless to say, it was too soon.
My husband had already left the twins for his business trips, and, of course, every single day when he went to work, and, well, every weeknight too (because I had night duty when he had to get up at 4:30 AM for work every day). He had also almost lost me in childbirth – and had somewhat lost me to the omnipotent needs of three children in diapers – so it was understandable that he was ready to arrange a night away. I was actually somewhat excited, too.
I left the children in the care of my extremely capable, loving, and willing in-laws. Even the best possible in-law care could not overcome my deliriously sleep-deprived, hormonal nursing self. I didn’t expect that handing the babies over would trigger a whole landslide of feelings about the near-death experiences that Twin B and I shared during the birth. Leaving those babies felt like death to my addled brain.
As I tried to force my arms to hand Twin B to my tender and devoted mother-in-law, I began to weep. As we separated, my weeps turned into sobs and I cried out,
“HE LIKES IT WHEN YOU BREATHE ON HIS HEAD!”
He likes it when you breathe on his head? Umm, well… okay.
Hear me out. He’s a twin. He’s used to constant contact, you know? And he is just a wild man who needs a lot of physical input to settle down. To a person without children, that all might sound ridiculous. But, my sweet mother-in-law nodded with understanding. Mother to mother, she knew I wasn’t crazy.
And I knew she would breathe on his head.
He’s three now. Thriving. He still needs a ton of sensory input. He likes back scratches, firm foot squeezes, shoulder rubs, idle strokes, “belly pets”, being thrown in the air, being smooshed, being rolled, going fast, being upside down, a heavy hand on his back in bed, and head-butting. An adult hand on his thigh during dinner even makes him eat more food. Basically, he likes every kind of touch that his brothers don’t.
And, yes, he still likes it when I breathe on his head.
During the day, he is so wild, I can’t believe he has not yet experienced grievous bodily harm (other than a black eye every so often). He drives me crazy and gives me heart palpitations. But, but… in the rocking chair in the middle of the night, he nuzzles into my bony shoulders and sighs. I breathe in his baby-fine scent that has never left. I exhale my breath into his hair. My inhales calm me down; my exhales calm him down. We both win.
I’m not a maniac. I’m a mom.