13 January 2007

A hug to remember

Premature babies have a rough start in life. A lot of them are forever marked by their early arrival. Some suffer cerebral haemorrhages, develop eating disorders or have some other health problems like asthma or impaired vision. Quite a few turn out hyperactive later in life. Almost all have a distinct "premature" look about them.

Our quads were born 14 weeks early. They were 3.8 kilos (8.3 lbs) altogether at birth.

None of them have anything about them that would make you guess they're preemies.

This is the first time I was let hold Mathias. He was 3 weeks old and weighed next to nothing. He and Anna were moved to a different hospital when they were 9 days old. I stayed behind with the other two, and only joined them after 3 weeks.

Preemies have no subcutaneous fat, and touching is painful for them. We were adviced not to stroke them, but just leave a hand (or finger, space considered) on their skin, to let them feel somebody was there. I can still remember how it felt. Their insanely thin skin. The miniscule fingers, no, smaller, infinitesimal - their arms the length of my little finger, the fingers the length of a nail and as thick as a match.

Mathias in particular seemed to not enjoy touch. And continued not to like it even when he was bigger. He had an infant's reflex movements when he was over a year, he'd turn the back of his head to anyone giving him a hug. He still does, mostly... But now, at 6, sometimes he'll offer his cheek instead.

And a few nights ago, when I was saying goodnight, he pulled me closer and wrapped both his arms around me, gave me a great big hug!

I'm lucky, I get a lot of hugs during a day, and a lot of arms wrapped around me. But this hug left me with tears in my eyes and goosebumps all over. Mathias hugged me. Skin on skin. On his own accord. This is one hug I'll never forget.

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Merujo said...

Wow. I had no idea how premature your quads were. That is amazing to me. How fragile, and yet, how resilient babies are!

And what a wonderful thing to get a hug as important as that. :) We should all be so fortunate in this life.

Rob said...

Wonderful indeed! Maybe that's why I, too, am rarely one to initiate physical contact (even with family members).


D said...

I was just given some dolls that represent preemies - one is a replica of a 22 week baby and the other is a 30 week baby. I thought of you the instant I held that 22 weeker - it fit right on the palm of my hand and I have small hands. I couldn't believe something that little could sustain and now look at yours!!! That hug must go in his baby book, what a gift!

Devil Mood said...

Hugs are wonderful and from little kids they're even more special. I had one like that too: my little cousin was about 1 year old and barely knew me but wanted me to hold him. And then he gave me this great big hug, it was the sweetest :)

Claire said...

That's pretty amazing considering pictures of them now.

Excellent post.