Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Attachment and Bonding: 1 of 3 Anne Marie McKinley

So I have a wee story that I always tell when I am taking Parentcraft. 

I love telling it. 
When I do, complete with Spanish and Northern Ireland accents, just looking around the room I get to see aww! in the expectant faces of about to be Mums and Dads.
And it's a true story. 
I introduce it with 'I wish I'd had a camera'... It was such a moment!! All about how clever and tuned in brand new; moment-of-birth-new-babies are. 
The Story goes like this.
It was a first time mummy in the pool.  Almost there. The room was warm, she was sitting upright. It had been a good labour and transition to birth in the water went well.

As baby, a bright alert and small little boy, came into his mothers’ arms, she held him close as she now transitioned gently into realising he was there. She moved him a little away from her body, cupping him in her hands, his body warm beneath the water, and almost sang what sounded like a song of welcome. 
The fact that she spoke Spanish and I couldn’t hear any, for me just added to the atmosphere. We were all focused on this little boy and watching his colour change to a gorgeous pink, we were all enjoying the moment.

This baby was a little bit early. This was evidenced by the amount of vernix (a thick oily substance that protects the baby’s skin when he is growing in the uterus). The eyes of the baby were stuck fast with vernix.

As Mummy was supporting him and singing this song of welcome, the baby stilled, and slowly moved his head from a resting position to face his Mummy. His head bobbed a little until his eyes and her eyes were parallel. Then his eyes popped open as his eyes found hers.

Then as if to say ‘ok that’s what you look like’, he reverted back to his original resting, held securely by his mum.

We were all in the room spell bound. I said to the Dad, ‘now, it’s your turn’.
Not a bit shy and in a lovely broad Northern Ireland accent he said
 ‘ach, my wee son!- You’re very welcome!’ 
He kept chatting like that and the baby started his search again. This time his face looked over his mother’s right shoulder to where the daddy was crouched. His eyes again were closed. The faces again became parallel. And once more he popped open his eyes, found his Dad’s eyes, they checked each other out for a moment and then once again he returned to a resting in his mother’s hands.
But I didn’t have a camera. 
But still…Magic.

So this is my story on the eve of my (early) retirement. I am going still to be working some hours to maintain the Birthafterthoughts Clinic I currently work in. But lots of changes are coming, and I won’t have the opportunity too often now, I imagine, to tell this story in Parentcraft classes.

With my wonderful new counselling team I am hoping to counsel and teach and enjoy working in different ways both with men and women in relation to stories that are often the opposite of this amazing dreamlike event.

So more serious and difficult birth stories will instead, no doubt be the backbone of an ongoing conversation here.

Part of presenting the harder and more difficult places that women and men find themselves in post birth is that these are not always pretty stories. Yet the folk I have worked with whose stories are of this second kind have taught me all the same, about courage and strength, and resilience and healing.
Start well believing it can be better.  Leave 2015 with the best of the ideal.

Part two of attachment and bonding which I am planning to post early January will be about when it isn’t like this at all. When singing isn’t really the response a new mum feels at the moment her baby is born. 
Another day.
Meanwhile. Happy Christmas. See you in 2016                                        Anne Marie McKinley

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