By Beth Hendrickson, blogger at http://bellesqueaks.wordpress.com
“They grow up so fast” I hear from everyone. My parents, my friends, other moms at the pool, the sweat-drenched mailman, the harried grocery store clerk, the homeless woman. It’s been a unanimous vote through all of those precious (sleepless?) early months. Mired as I was in the molasses of my days, I felt confident disregarding the dire predictions. Sure, Little Friend would grow up…someday…in the vague and distant future. I forgot about the future’s annoying propensity to turn into today. Yesterday, as I watched Little Friend select her shoes, put on bracelets, and feed her baby (doll) at 19 years, I mean, months old, I had to join the wistful chorus in decrying, “They grow up so fast!” I’m now ever more so grateful for the moments I invested in Little Friend’s infancy to baby massage, thanks to the incomparable BabyBabyOhBaby DVD.
I’m not sure I would have sought out a baby massage DVD if it hadn’t been for having a premature baby and reading all of the accompanying literature singing the healthful, healing benefits of infant massage. I’m not exactly the incense-burning, new age music type of gal, although I do love me a good massage. But I found myself sitting at home in the dead of a snow-engulfed winter, staring at a four-pound baby wondering what in the world I was going to do for the next couple of months until Little Friend was allowed out and about. So began our daily sessions of infant massage. I couldn’t treasure more the memories, both mental and physical, of spending quiet, concentrated moments pressing my love and affection stroke by stroke through the skin, sinews, muscles, and ligaments of my little one’s body.
My tutor in my train-at-home masseuse course was the BabyBabyOhBaby DVD. If you’ve seen the documentary Babies (shame on you if you haven’t), you will notice distinct similarities between BabyBabyOhBaby and the film, which follows four babies from birth to first steps. The stars of the BabyBabyOhBaby DVD (watch the preview here) and documentary film are all babies in their chunky, bumbly, rolly-polly glory. And in both cases, you just can’t get enough. I would (and I did) just sit and watch BabyBabyOhBaby for the sheer pleasure of watching parents interact in real-time with darling little bundles of joy. Oh, and as a bonus, I quickly learned the basics of infant massage through clear, informative steps and demonstrations.
I thought infant massage would be hard. Or dangerous. After all, I was dealing with a little human who weighed half as much as my cat. With BabyBabyOhBaby’s tutelage, baby massage couldn’t have been easier or more enjoyable. I watched the 45-minute DVD through twice and then watched it concurrently as I gave Little Friend her first olive-oil smeared massage (yes, you can use more fragrant oils, but excuse me if that’s all I had in my pantry in the middle of my snow-engulfed, preemie-interrupted winter). My hands quickly got used to handling Little Friend’s slippery limbs, and she quickly learned to enjoy my touch, opening and closing her mouth in that fish-like way and flapping her arms joyously in that bird-like way. In the quiet room as dust motes drifted about in sun streams and snow sifted from overladen branches outside, I felt the bond between us bloom one “heart-stroke” of her face at a time.
What I appreciated about BabyBabyOhBaby even more than the clear massage instructions was the parenting advice that seeped into the DVD’s demonstrations. The soothing voice of the instructor reminded me that it’s OK, that she even expected me to make mistakes. She reminded me gently to enjoy each small moment (subtitle: “They grow up so fast!”). She urged me to follow my baby’s cues and not rush her. I know these nuggets were all directed at baby massage, but they can certainly be applied to life as well. I also love the balance between mother and father in this DVD. So many parenting materials and activities are mother-centered. It’s no wonder that brand new dads are left feeling at odds half (or more) of the time. BabyBabyOhBaby includes demonstrations equally divided between moms-and-babes and dad-and-babes. And these are muscular, burly, tattooed, manly men giving the massages. Any dad would want to follow their instructions.
I have many, many favorite new mom and baby things. Over them all, I would recommend BabyBabyOhBaby as a shower gift or new parent gift. Why? Because it’s so much more than a new outfit to be outgrown or a new thing to be tossed on a shelf. By giving BabyBabyOhBaby, you’re investing in the relationship that springs up between mother and child or father and child from birth. That’s an investment that will have dividends paid for the child’s entire life. I look now at my bracelet-wearing, baby-toting toddler, and while my head is spinning with the speed in which she rushed from infancy to today, I can also retrieve memories that will remain static with me for life: the way my thumb fit perfectly in the palm of her foot, the little crease that folded between her hips and baby belly, the resolute knocking of her heart against ribs as I pressed my palms on her chest, the thin wings of shoulder blades flexing beneath skin. So if there’s any antidote to the “They grow up so fast” phenomenon, I’d have to give BabyBabyOhBaby DVD all the credit for preserving more of my memories than a baby book could every hold.