I got my baby-fix today. A little more than an hour in the infant room at the children’s home our Gift Team visited. This visit is always a mixture of joy and sorrow. A building full of children from newborns to five-year-olds, laughing, playing, running around like children do – joy. A building full of children from newborns to five-year-olds, laughing, playing running around like children do, but as part of a group, not as part of a family – sorrow.
There were four babies in the room I was in and the two workers were, obviously, very attentive, but two adults have just two arms and four babies want eight arms. I was holding one baby when the worker asked if I would please feed one of the other babies who had become fussy (the babies are held while they’re fed, a big plus). I handed off the baby I had been holding and picked up the fussy baby. While he sucked down his bottle of formula, he played with my hand, looked in my eyes and the worker took his temperature.
When he had finished eating, I put him up on my shoulder to burp and realized how hot he was and then I also realized that he was wheezing. It was the same sound my middle daughter used to make when she had bronchitis, which was a regular part of her childhood. The baby eventually burped, then cuddled into my shoulder as I rubbed and patted his warm back. It was clear he didn’t feel well and just wanted to be held. How many hours have I sat holding and rocking sick babies? I knew well this type of cuddle. This was an I-don’t-feel-well-and-I-just-want-to-be-held cuddle. That was fine with me, I was enjoying my baby-fix, so there we sat – me relaxed against a pillow, wheezy baby falling asleep against my shoulder. But then our team leader stuck his head in the door and said it was almost time to leave. With reluctance I motioned to the lead worker (I don’t speak Korean) to ask where to put the baby. By this time there were three workers in the room, all feeding babies. She indicated a crib and the baby was carefully laid inside. Of course, as soon as he was put down, he started to fuss. He was sick, he was tired, and he just wanted to be held. But even with six arms now in the room, that still left one baby looking for the two that would hold just him.