Big families are quite common, having 4 children is quite common, but 4 children the same age…. not so much.
Well for the Sapia family it happened, undergoing IVF, both eggs taking and splitting, you have 4 gorgeous babies. 2 identical girls and 2 identical boys.
Unfortunately, the first 5 months for little Mia were critical. She suffered with health and weight problems but eventually was able to join her big supportive family at home. Mia has Cerebral Palsy but is a happy and capable child with the help from her siblings.
I had the privilege of getting to know this family during my training as a Maternity nurse. I also was able to see when Mia finally came home. It was overwhelming what this family had gone through, but the strength and hope was undeniable.
I now have been able to work with them for a second time whilst training as a baby massage instructor. BM has several benefits for babies, families and society. It helps with bonding, relaxation and even building the immune system.
Although this massage is a lovely experience for all 4 babies, I was particularly keen to see how it would benefit Mia. All this little one has known is being poked and prodded from birth. She has undergone physio which can be quite painful and invasive and although it was totally necessary it can cause quite a negative association with touch.
Session 1- Mia was quite wary at first just watching, once she saw her siblings enjoying it then she fabulously bum shuffled over to her mum and plonked herself right on top of her sister….almost a ‘get out The way, it’s my turn’. She really enjoyed it; some moves more than others. Gionni, Peppe and Melina were mainly fighting over the spare dolls trying to copy what we were doing but not so keen to lay down and I don’t blame them. They are busy little bees; my baby massage box wasn’t going to empty itself.
Session 2- Mia was quite happy to volunteer with mum again. We worked on the tummy this time, she didn’t mind it, but it wasn’t her favourite. Melina was thoroughly enjoying here massage. The boys however, mischief written all over them. They would empty the baby massage box and get in it trying to close the lid on each other.
Session 3- Such excitement when I walked into the house today, they knew they would be having some massage and they seemed thrilled. The boys started by laying the mats out for me and getting the dolls out ready to go. It was a great session – the boys were happier to be massaged today which made a change and the girls wanted to do massage on the dolls. This was super helpful actually as 2 parents and 4 children you can imagine how tricky it is to try and massage all of them at once.
Session 4- Same gorgeous greeting party when I arrived and again the little ones set up for me but then something incredible happened. Mia was waiting patiently on the sofa for us to begin when we noticed she was doing ‘toe rolls’ on herself. It was just amazing. It was in this moment that I truly understood baby massage and all it stands for. As we continued it was apparent that they were all having an ‘I want mummies attention’ day so they began climbing all over her, the funniest and most heart-warming thing to witness. The love between a parent/carer and a child is a powerful thing, now times it by 4.
Session 5- I felt extremely sad that this was to be our last session. It really does feel like a little journey. But seeing how touch no longer a negative association had was something to be excited about was brilliant and exactly what BM is about.
I saw Mia achieve some amazing milestones during our sessions. She learnt to walk using a buggy as an aid. She also toppled over one day but managed to put her good arm out to save herself. Something that she didn’t realise she could do until now. I am not preaching that baby massage is magic and can solve all problems but what if it really had boosted this little girls confidence, what if ‘integration’ really had helped her to understand how her all her body parts were connected, along with this even stronger bond and one on one time with mum and dad.
No matter what our situation. Shouldn’t we still massage our babies and children. Who wouldn’t want to have some relaxing one on one time to bond even more with your little ones – after all they won’t stay little for long?
Newly qualified CIMI