I kept Primo's tiny hands covered for the first month and a half of his life by tucking them inside those side-snapping newborn shirts with the sleeves that fold over the baby's hands. The reason for this was twofold:
A. I was too scared to cut his teeny tiny nails and this way, I didn't have to and he wouldn't gouge his eyes out with his unkempt talons.
B. I was afraid gross germy visitors would touch his hands and break the pristine wall of sterility I had cultivated around the baby.
So the kid didn't know he had hands for much longer than is appropriate and I now cite this case of over- zealous neuroses as the reason he didn't know how to hold a pencil correctly til he was 6 years old.
Just the other day, I realized I'm doing the same thing with Terza. she's three weeks old and her hands have lint in the palms because theyve never seen the light of day. I resolved to be braver and less crazy this time and unleash her hands. So I peeled back those sleeves.
It's like Christmas morning for the baby -- she is so delighted to discover her digits. And as soon as I uncovered those hands, she commenced the nursing baby's bra clutch.
I'd forgotten all about the adorable little maneuver but it's one of my favorite memories from breastfeeding. It's a gesture of ownership, as in "This milk maker's mine, folks. Go find your own." Ay the sight of those minute, wrinkly, delicious little fingers curled so instinctually right next to my heart, well, I just swoon.
Nicole is a parenting writer who contributes essays and articles for magazines like Parenting, Parents, American Baby and Babble. She lives in Brooklyn with three children, one husband and a morbidly obese goldfish.