My little man, Camren, is a cuddler. He loves to be picked up, held, carried, hugged, and cuddled by me. I love it! I feel blessed to have such a cuddly baby, especially when his soft chubby arms are reaching around my neck. "Cam cuddles" are like blue skies and sunshine to me, and I believe I experience true joy when I feel his little hands on my cheeks.
The very first time I cuddled with Camren was a precious and unique experience. It happened shortly after his birth. My incredible labor and delivery nurse--a grandma, with short, funky hair, pretty teeth, and fine lines framing the outer corners of her eyes--took impeccable care of me through the whole "birthing process." She treated me with tenderness and kept me informed of all that was happening. While Camren was being cleaned off and diapered, she explained to me that newborn babies have a difficult time maintaining their body temperatures. For most hospitals, placing babies in warming bassinets is standard procedure.
"Lately, doctors are preferring the skin-to-skin contact method as a way to obtain the right body temperature in the baby," my nurse said. "We put the baby on the mother's chest so that they are skin-to-skin, and then place a warm blanket over them both. The baby will reach the right body temperature faster that way." She looked at me and smiled kindly, and asked, "Would you like to try it with your baby?"
"Yes, absolutely," I said.
My nurse brought me my red-faced, wailing baby boy. He was wearing only a diaper and a cotton cap. She put him on my chest and proceeded to cover us with blankets. Within moments, Camren's crying stopped.
And the world stopped for me.
I barely noticed the activity going on around me--James feeding me pieces of graham cracker so the pain medications I had taken wouldn't upset my stomach, my nurse placing warm blankets on my head as a way to combat the shivers and shakes the epidural had given me, my doctor congratulating me, the busy "hustle and bustle" of the nurses at the foot of my bed. It all fell away; fading into the background like the last slivers of a sunset behind the mountains. I was aware of one thing: the faint rise and fall of Camren's chest against mine. I've never felt closer to heaven.
Last night, I found myself cuddling with Camren while rocking him to sleep. I did not sing my usual lullaby reserved just for him--Barbra Streisand's, "My Man." Instead, I sang "Happy Birthday" and thought about how quickly one year had passed. I thought about how precious my time with my baby boy is, and how future years may bring a time when Cam won't want to cuddle with me anymore. "That's okay. You can just hug me," I whispered into the darkness of his bedroom. He was sound asleep.
As I laid Camren down in his crib, I softly whispered a birthday wish:
Happy Birthday, Cam. My life is better because you are a part of it. As you learn and grow on your life's journey, as you evolve from a little man to a big man, may you always remember to hug your mother.