The other day, Leon woke up from his nap right on schedule. I went into his room to pick him up, and he was standing in his bed with his arms stretched out, ready for me. Usually, when he first wakes up from his nap, I hold him for a (very short) while and then set him down. Usually, the moment his feet touch the ground, he takes off running, and he doesn’t stop running until bedtime. He does laps around our house outside, and sprints in our hallway. Leon is a pretty cuddly kid, but even when he is at his cuddliest, his cuddles are quick and are accompanied by a lot of energetic squeezes and squeals. On this day, though, I stood with him right under the ceiling fan, holding him and rocking him back and forth, and for some reason he held on extra tight. His little arms were clutched around my neck and his head was so perfectly snug on my shoulder. I swayed from side to side and started to sing to him.
When I thought that he was ready, I started bending over to put him down, but I realized that his grip only got tighter. He didn’t want to get down. This surprised me, but I don’t get many chances to snuggle with him like this, so I was more than happy to keep him in my arms – and I kept swaying and kept singing. We stayed like that for quite awhile, and I eventually stopped singing and let silence fill the room. In the silence, I quickly realized that our breathing was exactly in sync. Our chests rose and fell in unison and we were in a perfect rhythm with each other. Tears began streaming down my face.
As part of our home study for the adoption, we had to take a few online courses on different aspects of adoptions, and they were very interesting. One of the studies covered attachment issues, and the loss and grief that babies go through when they are separated from their birth mother. Even if this separation occurs at birth, they still grieve, because they have experienced a loss. I had never thought about it before, but imagine losing the familiar rhythm of your mother’s heartbeat and breathing, the rhythm that has surrounded you from the womb. The trauma of this loss is significant, as is the struggle to adjust to a new rhythm, a new pace of life.
As I held Leon, I realized that we were in sync with each other, and perhaps that is why he didn’t want to let go. I held on to him tight. I will not let go of him either.