Being “Touched Out” Shouldn't Be Taboo
Being “touched out” is one of many phrases I didn’t hear until after I had a baby, though it is so important.
I think there’s this implicit taboo to wanting your own space from your baby, partner and loved ones because it seems mean or sad or harsh, but in reality, it can be so overwhelming to be touched all the time.
Before I had my daughter, I would have very much fallen into the category of a touchy-feely person. I love hugs – being squeezed tightly, there’s just nothing like it. Both sides of my family kiss whenever they see me. I cuddle my friends and my parents (even though I’m almost 30 years old). I communicate love and affection through touch and very much expect that from a romantic partner.
But after having a baby, your personal bubble is shattered. The space around you physically and emotionally is totally used up and there is just no more room.
The truth is, having hands always reaching for you can be exhausting. Little nails scraping skin left raw and sore from childbirth and all the hormonal and physical changes before and after.
You want to hold and touch and kiss that baby but sometimes you beg to be left alone. You feel like every touch denies you the space to breathe, every bite and scratch and kick with little feet that shouldn’t hurt so badly is a rejection of everything you took for granted about your personal space and the ~before~ portion of your life.
When they feed it drains you but it also hurts. Discomfort from your pose and of course the feeling of feeding itself. The hurt of an already sore nipple can sometimes send you over an emotional edge where you can’t bear the thought of another touch.
You treasure holding those little creatures that you love so much, enjoy their warmth and the comfort they bring. But occasionally you’ll just get to this threshold you didn’t know was there. Totally without warning, the snuggle seems like a suffocating grab, the squirming too much to contemplate.
When you’re around other people you try your best to be your usual self because you know it will hurt them if you don’t, but you find yourself constantly shrinking away, folding in on yourself, placing your arms or legs as a physical barrier intended to be uninviting.
I think the worst part about being “touched out” is that it hurts you, too. There is a crushing guilt that you can’t or don’t want to reciprocate when others try to show you love. When your spouse wants to comfort you, it’s so hard to let them. When that little baby that you love so much engenders unexpected and powerful feelings of rage you think you must be a bad parent.
I guess the small consolation is that it happens to a lot of new moms, but I hope it can be something known, accepted and talked about openly rather than ignored or denied.