I remember feeling instantly protective of my son E. when he was born. We were a symbiotic unit during those early days. I was reticent to hand him over and he was reticent to be put down. I will, however, be forever grateful for every time his father offered me a much-needed reprieve and walked those endless blocks in the middle of the night to help E. fall asleep.
During the first three months of his life, like most other mother-infant (or primary caregiver-infant) pairs, we were tuning ourselves into each other’s verbal and non-verbal cues and especially our feelings. Best known in attachment theory literature as attunement. E.’s signals of distress, crying, grimacing, stiffening of his muscles, clenching his fists, or arching of his back, were often associated with tiredness, hunger, and especially with E., proximity-seeking. By six or nine months an infant’s primary attachment(s) are well-established and secure—as was ours.
During the course of our first three years together, we began the first of our most important courage challenges: to learn how to say goodbye whilst ensuring psychoneurobiological homeostasis (which is fancy talk for "not melting down during every little separation!")