When I recently beheld the picture of a friend cradling her new grandbaby close to her breast, I made a comment similar to, “Looking at this picture, I almost ‘get the sensation’! Once you've had such, a true baby whisperer NEVER loses the power to receive it!”
Following are a few remembrances that should help explain my "true baby whisperer" belief. From my teen years, I have had the absolute blessing of being able to comfort a crying babe. It has brought me some of life’s most fulfilling moments. A true baby-whisperer will understand that comment; others reading this are likely to think, “Poor soul.”
Every one of us has heard a crying baby in any one of a number of public places. I am not talking about just being aware of a noise; I mean a sensation - a feeling – a personal call from that particular baby directly to my heart. It is not to say I am the only one who is able to help; it is to say, at that moment my heart’s being called by that baby’s cry with a great desire to help.
There were the evenings when our daughter, a teen babysitter called for me to be her momma’s help. By the time she’d call, she was nearly in tears herself, begging me to come quiet the infant who, upon her arrival, obviously had it figured out that he could frighten her. Then, once he started crying, frightened himself so much, that he couldn’t stop until he felt the baby whisperer wrap the blanket around his tiny body that up until then, had been taking turns in rigid rebellion and wanting to give in, to the softness now wrapped around him. Within less than 45 seconds he had chosen the soft clouds of slumber, and I continued to cuddle another five minutes or more to be sure he was really off in dreamland. (Or, was the extra holding-close time more for my benefit, when it’s likely he was already in a deeper slumber than I was ready to admit?) A most unexpected occasion arrived early one morning while I was at work at a huge crafts and fabrics store. A young woman with a well-bundled 1-month-old came in planning to choose ribbons. Her baby girl had other plans. Ribbons held no interest to the little one because she was searching for immediate, direct attention from her mom. Anyone who has dealt with an infant knows when a baby has its mind set, it’s sometimes difficult to distract them. Likewise, in this situation for the young mom as she was trying to hold a starting-to-squirm bundled baby with the one hand, while comparing colors as she picked through rolls of ribbons with the other. Within seconds, the wiggles from within the blankets became more vigorous while the sounds grew more voluminous! I had already approached with an offer to help if the mom had any questions or needed any help, then as usual, I had stepped back while staying reachable. Once things started looking difficult, I questioned my actions a very few seconds before I stepped closer with the hopeful offer, “I know you don’t know me at all, but if you would let me, I would love to hold your baby while you choose your ribbons.” It took less seconds for her to pass the little one to me than for my offer to have been made! My having that baby in my arms made my day, but of even greater importance, as soon as I started talking directly to the little one, she began to stop her fussiness in order to study me, then pay even closer attention to this stranger who was giving her the full attention she had been seeking all along. Not only did the store have a successful ribbon sale that morning, but I also had another in a good run of baby whispering experiences along with the long-lasting memory that is more than a picture image in my mind. It truly is a “sensation of feeling” as well.
One of my most favorite, almost-unbelievable experiences was with our own newborn granddaughter. Her parents had had to run an errand the day they brought Emily home from the hospital, and because her Paw-Paw John and I were there, we got to babysit with her 3-year-old sister Alyssa Sue, my namesake, and Emily Shae, (her paternal grandmother’s namesake). Because the opportunity was presented with such ease, with Emily on the waterbed, I decided it the perfect time to get a few new-baby pictures. This was pre-digital camera days, so it’s likely it was after we got back to our Ohio home from their Washington State abode before we saw the pictures. Obviously I hadn’t lost my baby whispering touch! The questions with which I was left are: was this newborn laughing at me or smiling for me? Either way, there is no denying, that was a smile! Our bond was immediate.
As most of you know, I seldom meet a stranger when I have more than 90-seconds in a quiet space with a new-to-me person. At least 95-97% of the time, the experiences are pleasant and I walk away feeling I have gained a new friend. However as much as I love offering my help as a baby whisperer while making new friends at the same time, there are occasions when I recognize it wise to restrain both. John and I walked into a doctor’s office last week where a young mother sat holding a dear little girl. I absolutely had to stop to admire the baby, learned she was 3-months old, chatted briefly with the mom, smiled a lot at the baby while talking a bit to her, then said my goodbyes and left to join John in the row of seats behind. The baby was very peaceful while her mom held her as the grandmother sat by them filling out paperwork. With the paperwork completed, the grandmother could not wait to get her hands on that baby! When with the mother’s permission, I was right there in spirit with the grandmother … until … she picked the baby up under her arms to hold her out away from her to be able to get eye contact. The baby was safe enough but was obviously uncomfortable. Eye contact not being gained, grandmother rather swiftly moved the little one onto first one shoulder, then the other, bouncing the baby up-and-down, up-and-down, most of the time, not allowing her time to settle in any one position. Soon, she sat the infant in her lap, and tried to force her to cuddle as she had been doing with her mother 5-6 minutes earlier when the probably-by-now-dizzy-one started to protest, then fuss. Minutes ago, I had wanted to do so! That’s when the mother turned from her texting as she realized the baby seemed needy, gave her a pacifier, then some liquid in a bottle. Now, Grandma held the baby quite still in her lap, cuddled against her body. No more protests as the now once-again comfortable child fell asleep. Whew! Now, I could rest, too . . . until I think about it all over again!
Earlier I mentioned my teenage start with the seeming almost-expected acceptance of babies and me to one another. The years in between only encouraged and increased “the sensation” as I took part in helping/teaching the infants in the church nurseries in Northern Maine-Tucson, Arizona-Rantoul, Illinois- and finally in San Angelo, Texas. Now, those wee ones are either married or preparing their weddings! It’s a bit sad to me, and I think for them, that the sensation has passed between these very ones and me. An age has come when though many still know my name, they no longer remember my heart. While it’s true that much attention is given to the fact that elderly are forgetful, I wonder if there might be more camaraderie between the opposite ends of the age spectrum if more emphasis were put on the “sensations remembered”.
I believe this “sensation” or “baby whispering” as some call it, is a gift from God. While for a long time I was able to use it in a more active manner, my arms and heart still hold the security an infant desires. Now, as I continue along the way, my ability allows me to share and to teach what I’ve gleaned. It is truly a joyful sensation to share what I’ve learned to try to make life more comfortable for current mother/caregiver and infant.
(c) M Sue 6-15-2017
p.s. Some of the VIPs upon whom I have been blessed to share Baby Whispering sensations: