The Last Time I Rocked My Son To Sleep

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Before Lucas was born, we bought a rocking chair. I wanted to have a comfortable place to sit with him in his room while I fed and rocked him. After we got the nursery together, I often relaxed in the rocker, surveying his room and enjoying the peaceful setting. I imagined my baby there with me, snuggled in my arms. I imagined him sleeping contentedly in his crib. I pictured diapering him on his changing table. In my mind’s eye I could see chubby fingers turning the pages of the books that so neatly lined his little shelf.

Life wasn’t a whole lot like I pictured it once he did show up. There were no more tranquil afternoons of sitting still. Lucas never once slept a full night in his crib. I changed his diaper on the carpet downstairs much more than on his changing table. The books in this room littered the floor more often than they adorned the shelf once he could crawl and grab. But my imagination did get one thing right–the hours and hours spent rocking in that chair.

I had people warn me against rocking Lucas to sleep.  “You will regret it when he can’t get to sleep on his own,” they said. It was hard to imagine ever regretting it the first time I held him there. He was so tiny and sweet, and we had waited so long for him. And as time went on and we learned who he was and what he needed, it seemed obvious that those moments were important to him. I’m not saying we never wished he would fall asleep on his own, or that he didn’t need the comfort and safety of our arms quite so much, but we stuck to the rocking because it was the best decision for all of us.

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One of the very first times I rocked Lucas in that chair.

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I wasn’t the only one who spent hours in the rocker with Lucas…

That chair stayed in Lucas’s room until he was three and a half.  At that point he informed us that he was ready for a big bed and we changed his room over from baby to big boy.  His rocker was replaced by an orange, egg-shaped swirly chair.

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From baby room….

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…to big boy room.

photo 2 (7)The other night, I was sitting with Lucas on his bed.  He was sobbing and heartbroken because Jaime was gone and he felt there was no way on earth he could get to sleep without seeing him. Jaime usually puts Lucas to bed, but was at a late meeting that night. And so I found myself pulling him into my arms and once again rocking him. It got me thinking about all those days and nights I rocked my baby, then toddler, to sleep.  And how somewhere along the line, I rocked him to sleep for the last time, even though I didn’t realize it. Suddenly I was so grateful I had ignored that advice. I am thankful for all those moments–the sweet, peaceful ones, and even the stressed and frazzled ones when I thought he would never ever in a million years fall asleep. All those moments are part of our history together. Somewhere along the way he stopped needing to be rocked, and that chapter in our lives ended.

For a fleeting moment, I thought maybe I’d get another chance to rock him to sleep the other night. Maybe this would be the last time. But after he was sufficiently comforted, he asked to lay back down on his pillow. At this point, stretching out in bed is more comfortable for him. My heart hurt a little but I think I heard an audible sigh of relief from my arm which was already cramped up and sore.

Another bit of advice I received before Lucas was born was to cherish every stage of his life because each one passes so quickly. That has certainly proved true. At first that sentiment evoked a kind of panic in me, that I somehow needed to stop the hands on the clock. But what I’ve come to realize, is that although I do miss things from the past, there are new things to enjoy in each new phase. At age four, I do miss rocking my boy. But I love hearing him chatter on (and on) about what’s on his mind. I’m fascinated by his vivid imagination and the ways in which he is figuring out the world around him. I love how he bounces and runs and skips everywhere because the joy and enthusiasm in his heart finds its way into his little legs. I love all his songs, the funny ways he explains things, and his tendency to make up a word if he doesn’t know the real one. I especially adore his little mistakes. (As I type this, he is singing at the top of his lungs, “S-P-E-L-L, I really love to read!”). 🙂

I’ll probably never rock Lucas to sleep again, but I’ll never forget the days I did. And I look forward to all the firsts and even the lasts that each new stage holds.  After all, it’s all of part of this wonderful experience called motherhood.

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The Best Part of Waking Up

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Morning is my least favorite time of day. I’m not much of an early bird to begin with, and cystic fibrosis has not increased my love for mornings.  I struggle the most with my health first thing. After lying in bed for eight or nine hours, mucus pools in my lungs and I start out each day with a series of breathing treatments and respiratory therapy to help me clear my airways. I take an inhaler to dilate the airways and inhale a saline solution to help mobilize the mucus. I blow into a device that vibrates and shakes my lungs in an attempt to dislodge the congestion from the airways and move it forward so I can cough it out. I inhale a medication designed to help thin the mucus and take a steroid inhaler to control the asthma that I have in addition to the cystic fibrosis. Sometimes I jump on a small trampoline to further loosen the congestion.

Even after doing all these treatments, I can expect to continue coughing on and off for a few hours each morning. First morning coughing is often almost violent in nature and can lead to gagging, vomiting and bad headaches. I sometimes injure muscles in my back or chest while coughing.  I don’t really feel human until I’ve been up for several hours, completed all my treatments, cleared my lungs as best as I can, and had a few cups of very dark, very strong coffee. (No Folgers in this girl’s cup!) Yeah, not a morning person.

I was scrolling through my photos the other day and I started to notice something. I have a lot of pictures taken in the morning. Most of them show a messy-haired, animated little boy doing what he does best–lighting up my life. Lucas is not a morning person either, not in the strictest sense at least. He’d prefer to stay up late and sleep late. But most days he wakes up ready and raring to go, full of joy, enthusiasm and spunk from the minute he bounces out of bed.

Today I’m feeling thankful and encouraged by the gift that is my son and grateful for the joy that Lucas has brought into my mornings. I may feel crummy first thing. I may cough and struggle, but one look at his sweet, disheveled, pajama’d self and I can’t help but feel happy. He’s definitely the best part of waking up!

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Good morning, Sunshine!

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One tissue for you, ten tissues for me.

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This makes it a lot easier to breathe, right Mommy?

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It’s never too early for a dance party…

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…or for dinosaurs and songs.

Early morning stories and snuggles.

Early morning stories and snuggles.

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The world’s greatest pajamas.

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We’ll take care of that hair after breakfast. Maybe.

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My morning joy.

Taking Heart

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One of the difficult things about living with a chronic condition like cystic fibrosis is that the struggle is never-ending.  It’s not a matter of waiting it out or getting through the next few days. There is no surefire promise that tomorrow will be better. There are bad days, there are better days, but there are no free days.

And so after a difficult year, these past weeks I have found myself in a place of fatigue. I’m not only referring to fatigue in the physical sense, although there has been that too.  The fatigue I’m feeling is a mental weariness that comes from the constant battle and the effort it takes to survive and thrive in spite of the relentlessness of my physical struggles. There are days when I feel I don’t have any fight left in me.

One way this fatigue has manifested itself these past weeks is in my exercise. Several months ago I reached my goal of running two miles in 25 minutes and since then have been working to maintain that time and distance. I’ve struggled physically these past few weeks as the weather has changed and the winds have blown in allergens that have attacked my system. I tried an inhaled antibiotic which caused my asthma to flare uncomfortably and I’ve wrestled with extra congestion and exhaustion. In spite of these symptoms I’ve kept up my running, modifying my workouts on the days when my lungs refused to admit the extra air I needed for the increased activity.

I headed out for a run the other day.  The conditions were perfect. It was sunny, the air was clear and mild, and the fall colors formed a kind of rainbow against the brilliant blue sky. All this beauty I was observing with my eyes as I started my run. But my heart was heavy and remained closed to the splendor around me. All I could focus on was my labored breaths, the strain I felt as my body rebelled against what I was asking it to do. It took me less than two minutes to give up. I knew I should continue on. I knew I should push through. I knew I should persevere. The physical struggle was nothing new, but I couldn’t find mental strength. I stopped, turned around, and headed for home.

As I walked in the door I was greeted by a message from Jaime wishing me luck on my run and offering support. I stared at his message for a few minutes before sighing deeply, putting the phone down and walking back outside. I made myself start again. Just one mile I told myself. I can do one mile.

The same thing happened my very next run. This time I was on the treadmill. I started coughing and rather than jogging through it as I usually do, I got off the treadmill. This happened three times during the first twelve minutes. The third time I sat on the floor and dissolved into tears. I just couldn’t take hold of the strength I needed. I didn’t want to finish. I didn’t want to triumph. I just wanted to quit. I prayed for strength. I gave myself a pep talk. I told myself I could do one more mile, this time no stopping. Just one miserable mile.

Even though I was able to run one mile those days, I didn’t feel a whole lot of satisfaction. It’s hard when I feel I’ve lost the mental fight. I want so badly to be joyful and give my best on the bad days, not only on the better days. But sometimes I fall short.

A line from that song Shirelles sings keeps popping into my head: “Mama said there’ll be days like this, there’ll be days like this, Mama said.” It’s true.  My mom has told me there’ll be days like this. And weeks like this. Sometimes even months like this. Jesus said it too in John 16:33. He said, “In this world you will have trouble.” Some versions say trials and sorrows. It’s not you might have trouble, or if you’re unlucky you will have trials and sorrows, but you will. We all do. Struggle, fatigue, hard days, it’s a part of everyone’s experience. But thankfully that’s not the whole story. First He said, “I have told you these things so that you may have peace in me,” and continued with, “…but take heart, I have overcome the world.”

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Taking heart means receiving courage, or confidence, or comfort from some fact. In this case, my courage, confidence, and comfort comes from the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. He has overcome the ultimate battle over sin, death, and disease. I have trouble, but I have peace. Because He has overcome, He gives me the strength to overcome. That doesn’t mean that I will win every battle every time. There will be days when I give up. But because of Jesus there is a surefire promise that a better tomorrow awaits. Whether my healing comes in this life or the next, one day I will again run, uninhibited, free from this struggle, complete and whole again.

There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail. There’s an anchor for my soul. I can say ‘It is well.’

Jesus has overcome, and the grave is overwhelmed. The victory is won. He has risen from the dead.

And I will rise, when He calls my name. No more sorrow, no more pain. I will rise, on eagles wings, before my God, fall on my knees, and rise.  And I will rise.

Lyrics from “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin