By Heather O.
I didn’t know what was wrong at first, as he didn’t have any respiratory symptoms. I just anxiously watched as his fever climbed higher and higher, and by the time I got him to the doctor, his temperature measured close to 104. Since he had no obvious symptoms of an infection, the doctor ordered a chest X-ray.
It was awful.
In order to keep such a small, squirmy, crying child still enough to get a clear image, they put him in a chair that had plastic shields that locked in place around his chest, completely immobilizing him. Then they slid the X-ray film in front of his face, so not only was he unable to move, he was unable to see me, as well. I could only hold his hand and talk to him soothingly as they took the X-ray. I had to talk pretty loudly, however, to be heard over his earsplitting wail of terror.
It didn’t take long for the doctor to read the film and tell me J had pneumonia. Armed with a diagnosis, antibiotics, and some infant Motrin, I took my traumatized baby home. Sick and exhausted, he was inconsolable, so I sat down with him in the rocking chair and rocked and rocked him, trying to calm him down.
We stayed in that rocking chair all day long.
Not normally willing to stay in one place for very long, J would whimper every time I tried to move. He suckled at my breast for hours, another thing he never, ever did, and I sat alone with him in my apartment, on that chair, and watched the light in the room turn from yellow, to orange, to gray, and finally extinguish all together as the night began. I remember sitting in the dark, dozing, all the while rocking back and forth.
My mother called that night, to ask how everything was.
“Mom, I haven’t moved from the rocking chair all day. I have rocked this child the ENTIRE DAY,” I whined to her, spent from extended anxiety, stress, and lack of sleep.
My mother sighed and said, “I’m so glad. You did the right thing. How wonderful to have nothing to do but rock a sick baby all day.”
When she said that, I rolled my eyes and thought, I didn’t exactly have a choice, and you’re not the one whose backside is numb from sitting on it for so long.
That was almost exactly 5 years ago.
My son, still not willing to stay in one place for very long, no longer fits in my lap in the rocking chair. We’ve moved the chair from his room to his baby sister’s room, and replaced it with a reading chair that he got to pick out. He started Kindergarten last week, and for the first time in his life, I am no longer aware of what he does during the day. He doesn’t offer details of his adventures in the classroom, only vague hints here and there, and I am left wondering how I could have possibly thought it was good idea to let this child out of my sight.
Don’t get me wrong. I love watching my son grow up. I love hearing him sing to himself, and plunk out notes to his favorite song on the piano. I love that tonight, when we went out to dinner, he used the word “peaceful” to describe the ambiance. I love that he can put his shoes on by himself, and I LOVE the fact that he sleeps through the night. But as much as I love it, it’s hard to accept that never again will I be able to just gather him up and rock him, all day long.
Forgive me for waxing nostalgic. It’s such a cliche, to write about wistful memories of babies on a Mommy blog. But as I rocked my second baby tonight, singing to her as I prepared to put her down, I was reminded of my mother’s words, and again thanked my Heavenly Father for my 2 perfect gifts. How wonderful to have nothing to do but rock a sweet baby, all day long.