tiny fingers clasped ever so gently around mothers finger and suddenly, everyone wants to be in that position. the idle chatter subsides to almost-silence and all eyes are on the tiny new life wriggling slightly, pointing at things it can not yet see clearly, drinking in sound, giggling at nothingness.

in an instant, uncle fred's rambling about his latest project, as stupid as it might be, becomes surprisingly less interesting. the neighbour's cat tearing up garbage bags ceases to matter, and everyone is captivated by this little creature, this teency leetle human.

it is passed, almost ritually, from person to person, each taking the time to peer into tiny, weak eyes. to stare, with utmost adoration at this living, breathing, baby person that they can only pretend to understand.

They say a newborn can only focus on things seven to nine inches away from her little blinky everycolor eyes. In other words, her mother's face. I want it to be my face, I greedily want to be her focus for any minutes I can grab.

Can I hold her?

Anna always says yes and hands her over. She is silently smug about it. She knows all my cooing and all my nonsense is only to put myself in her baby's bleary spotlight. Pay attention to ME, Toccoa.

It's dizzying, the power I have. I am bigger and have way better muscle control. Sometimes I brag - Look, Toccoa, how finely my neck supports the weight of my head. Nary a wobble. Keep trying, limp little slug, some day you too will be a superior specimen.

The reverse of this, of course, is that when she cries it is All My Fault.   Oh, man.   Oh, honey, stop it.   It's ok.   Be cool, be cool, shhh shh shhhh dammit. I talk, I sing, I dance her around the mountains of assorted baby-related items all over the living room. I assure the baby that if there is a problem, yo, I'll solve it. I urge the baby to check out the hook while my dj revolves it. This intrigues her. Yowls turn to sobs to hiccups to little moany exhausted breaths and then there is silence and she is asleep, and I did it. There's no ego about it any more, now I'm just quiet with her. She brings that to me.

We lay back on the couch and I can smell the top of her heavy damp head and the smell is low and sweet, I breathe it in, she wraps me up in honey smells. I have helped her find sleep and now she gives it back to me, we are drifting with each other, we are vapor, we are at ease, we are smilingly gone.

When a baby is first born research shows that the more time it is away from direct skin to skin contact with its mother the harder it will be to initiate breastfeeding. All those folks in the delivery area who want to hold the baby – back off. It’s time for some imprinting to take place and it needs to be on MOM, that sweaty lady with the milky boobs … Oh yes, and mom shouldn’t rush to shower, baby uses olfactory signals to home in on the nipple. Baby also shouldn’t be rushed to a bath, that cheesy stuff (vernix) protects his skin and he needs time to adjust and stabilize his temperature before his first bath. In fact, that first bath doesn’t really need to happen any time soon, day 2 of life is fine. The baby can be dried on mom’s chest and the messiest parts wiped off without disrupting the process and this bonding thing is a process. Would you snatch a newborn kitten from his mom to pass him around the room? I don’t think so, at least not if you have any common sense.

Pass the “peace pipe” later, after that first feeding but allow that new mom the time to hold her baby undisturbed at least until he has had his first meal!

Off the soapbox and back down to normal altitudes….I only wish hospitals in the US actually practised this way.

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