They really do. They heal hearts. They heal premature babies.
Hugs have quite literally saved millions of babies in hospitals around the world where neonatal equipment is scarce. Pre-term Babies previously died under these conditions because they were unable to regulate their body temperature. Kangaroo care was developed in and has transformed neonatal care in the developing world, saving many many babies.
Virginia was lucky enough to be born in a top notch hospital and lived in a high tech incubator appropriately dubbed the "womb with a view." She could be weighed, fed, and given medication with little disturbance within her plexiglass box. The incubator was also able to carefully monitor her temperature and provide humidification and heat as necessary. Because of this available technology, in our case kangaroo care was not necessarily life saving but our hugs certainly did heal. It was healing for all 3 of us (Heath and I equally split our kangaroo care opportunities.)
I spent the first 3 weeks of Virginia's life peeking at her through the blanket covering her isolette and softly reading to her. It was all I could do for her aside from pumping breastmilk every few hours. I was envious of the other moms in our pod that held their babies each morning and night. I watched closely as the well choreographed transfer of tiny babies and all of their equipment resulted in the calmest moments in the NICU world that was anything but calm.
There were an overwhelming number of ups and downs in those weeks. The days were painfully long and sleep was scarce. The future was a world of unknowns, forcing us to live and cope in the moment. Things were so uncertain that I did not even know that I was going to be able to hold Virginia for the first time until moments before it actually happened.
I will never ever forget the first hug I had with Virginia. The tubes, IVs, tape, wires; while cumbersome, mattered little in that moment. Her unbelievably small body settled into mine, her body relaxed and her sats stabilized. We were finally back together again and it was truly the first time I felt like a mom. I was providing her warmth and comfort and she was healing my heart. hugs heal.
Honor these tiny babies by giving more hugs.
Hug your healthy kids.
Hug those you are thankful for.
Hug those who need it.