I sit again. This rocking chair. It is not the first time I have spent all night in it. It probably won’t be the last. A little lump dozes restlessly against my arms. He is burning up, cheeks ablaze as he lays there trying to get comfortable. Holding him here my own arms ache. My neck is stiff and my shoulders are tense. He is heavy. Actually, this is heavy. This whole thing.
I gently try to lay him in his own bed only to be met with crying. Standing there alongside the chewed up rails feels familiar. How many times have I done this? Patted the back of a sad little thing in footie pajamas? Through the fleece I can feel the heat of the fever and the rapid beat of his heart. And despite my aching back and sleep-deprived eyelids, I pick up him again. We walk. We sway. We doze sitting up. We do this all night long.
Soon morning will arrive but we are still a ways from that. There is a relief in knowing that the dark is almost over. Light has a way of bringing hope, even if nothing has changed. We are both exhausted. The feeling is familiar…almost rehersed. My feet know the path to his crib, well worn through the dark hours to tend a crying baby. My arms cradle him just so with the bouncy rhythm he has known since his days as a newborn. This feeling of exhaustion is startling not because it is so real, but because it is so old. As though it’s been there since the beginning. And I realize it is the same feeling I began the whole journey with.
The labor does not stop. The contractions pass and the baby arrives. But the labor goes on. It is real work.
I find it strange that nearly seven years have elapsed since I first became a mom, and yet I still do not fully see how it had shaped me. It has made me stronger and more patient. It has certainly pulled to light selfishness I never knew I had and a level of determination unmatched by my pre-child days. But most days, I don’t really know where this is going. My days are too full of the work. Three children in three different stages with three different personalities, all needing me in different ways. Like labor I just focus on getting through it. I breathe. I pray. I deal with each moment as it comes like a wave. And like labor I know at the end there will be a beautiful person, unique and ready for the world. And I know I will love them beyond belief and forget all the work it took to get them here. It will all be worth it in the end.
So I go back to rocking my baby. Soothing his fever, pacing the halls, praying for sleep or morning to come. Either would be fine.