Zen and the Art of Baby Massage

So today’s blog finds Henry at 6 weeks old and I still all thumbs at motherhood. Some take to it like a duck to water, I’m still feeling, with Henry at 6 weeks, that I’ve taken to it like a boulder to the ocean. What is a Vermont stay-at-home mother to do during those first shaky months? Try out infant massage.

I look it up online, it’s a bit of a hike into Burlington from Underhill with the one car, but Andy, as always is supportive of me keeping my sanity and does all he can to make sure we can have access to the car. Thank you, dear husband!

So there I sit, thinking about how thrilling it will feel that, I, flaky Meredith Gordon, will now be welcomed into the throng of women known as mothers AND mothers that do such earthy things as infant massage. I felt so cool and for the first time since Henry was born, a “good mother”. I was going to learn how to relax my baby and interact with other human beings… what could be better?

We find the location and I tote the baby carrier with a snoozing Hens inside the building. An aging woman with loose braids and shoes that appear to be stitched from buffalo hide and hemp, greets us at the door and tells us that the class is full to capacity but we can sit in on this session. Darn, I’m going to have this wonderful experience waved in front of me and then snatched away. But, I’m here to learn and I can probably learn all I need to from one session, right? I mean, isn’t it kind of like getting a turkey ready for the oven, just slap some veggie oil on the skin and rub?

When I get inside the room, it’s filled with mothers. They’re smiling, talking, sharing tips on where you can get vegan pot roast recipes and looking incredibly relaxed for people that have the weight of raising our future generation on their shoulders. These women are who I want to be and yet, I’m so far from it as I sit there, nervously trying to get my son out of his car seat.

There’s new age music sifting out of a small boom box on the counter and women around me are whipping out their breasts and feeding their kids without missing a syllable of conversation. I haven’t left the house since Henry was born and so the concept of public breastfeeding still scares me a bit. I was mistaken for a boy a number of times in school, which, given my cup size is crazy pants to me, but the amount of layers I had on over the twins more than hid them. I hate summer attire for the same reason and now here I was in the middle of the room with empowered milk divas. I was jealous to say the least and vowed that when Henry got hungry, I would try to be a milk diva myself and take the public plunge.

Buffalo Shoe re-enters and tells us that it’s time to start the class and to strip our children down to their diapers and lay them on their backs on the floor. I tell Buffalo Shoe that Henry has a bit of a reflux problem and she instantly hands me a cushion to prop him up on.

I look at the babies to my right, they nearly look comatose, sucking on their hands or simply smiling at their mothers. To the left, is a mirror image of the right, the future type B human beings of the world lay around me while whale sounds and flutes echo off the walls and I feel like there might be hope.

I lay Henry on his cushion and screams. He screams as loud as his six week lungs will allow and I’m terrified. He has drowned out the whale song, the flute and even Buffalo Shoe, who is telling us to open the baby oil in front of us and start working on our babies legs. The mellow yellows around us are staring up at him as if to say,

“Dude, chill out. It’s not that bad” But Henry carries on and I feel like Buddha himself is watching and shaking his Buddha head. He’s hungry, that must be it. Here’s my time. I take a big deep breath and go for the plunge. In minutes, I’m publicly feeding him and nothing earth shattering is happening. No one is pointing and laughing. No one is throwing up, not yet anyway and even the whales from the boom box seem to sound more chipper.

In the end, we never ended up even attempting the massage, as Henry really hated laying on his back on the cushion and wouldn’t go five minutes without crying. So, we sat and watched the rest of the class. At the end, I was given a small bottle of baby oil to take home with me and practice the techniques I had seen. This worked out great and to this day, Andy and I still give Henry a little massage before bed each night.

Sitting in the car that morning, headed to the class, I had imagined that this would be the class that would make me feel like a normal mom. I would meet people and make connections. I would grow and become more relaxed. But Henry wasn’t relaxed there and so, neither was I.

Our children set the pace, whether we like it or not, that’s how it goes. We wake up each morning having no clue how the day is going to go because our day is in our children’s hands. But, like a person who goes to AA or subscribes to a religion, sometimes it’s better to give yourself over to a power greater than yourself.



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