Saturday, September 24, 2011

A baby and touch

A feeding (speech) therapist came to therapy today along with our OT. One of the things she said was enlightening and so sad at the same time. We were discussing how Ilse hasn't historically liked to be touched. Some people say these kinds of things can be a symptom of autism; however, this therapist has a different view. She said that as babies are small in the womb, they aren't rubbing up against the mother like a large baby can, and therefore they don't get many touch sensations. A preemie in particular might be born with some sensory issues simply because it didn't have a chance to experience really close quarters. And while Ilse was a large preemie, she didn't get to experience many touch sensations because she didn't really move much. Then, with her being stuck in the NICU where every touch hurt or was uncomfortable, and where in the early days of her life I wasn't even allowed to touch her without gloves much less hold her... It's really no wonder that being held close made her flip out, that she hated kisses, would avoid my eyes, would cry whenever I moved her at all and in particular didn't want her head touched. She remembers touch hurting, and she didn't get to learn early on what it is like to be nursed and look up at a mommy. And while this may be stretching it, I am very awkward when it comes to eye contact too, and I was also in the hospital a bit after I was born.

I have been working like crazy on Ilse's ability to handle touch. I kiss her as often as I can, but very briefly, and while I am distracting her with funny sounds. I have taught her to tolerate her head being touched way more than previously, and I am constantly putting her in odd positions just so that she learns that she can be moved without needing to cry. She almost never avoids my eyes anymore, and she is doing so much better with crying when I move her. She also seems to enjoy my kisses even though resting my cheek on hers is still displeasureful to her.

I am so happy with her progress, but it breaks my heart that she needed to make any at all.

Here are a couple pictures of her and and the boys.

This bottom picture is of Chris after he 'got dirty' in the yard. He is so in love with dirt!


  1. I LOVE the one with Ilse sitting on the boys' laps! She's like: "So over this camera thing..."

    She already has your sense of humor, Emily!


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