Between a rock and a hard place
Hard, uncomfortable, unrelenting, this is the reality I am constantly reminded of as I sit in our refurbished antique rocking chair. I had grand hopes for that wooden rocking chair we refinished for our nursery years ago. I had romantic notions of rocking our little baby in an old faithful, hardwood rocking chair filled with a lifetime of character and stories. Our hunt for an antique chair started a couple weeks after finding out we were pregnant. I remember the moment we found this one at a thrift shop, it was a dark honey oak, a couple scratches on the arm and seat but nothing a little paint and TLC couldn’t fix. With much sanding and three layers of antique white paint, I realized that painting a rocking chair with a pregnant belly may be more challenging than I had envisioned. I second guessed myself, why not get one of those cushy swivel nursery chairs? As cute and comfortable as I thought they were, I couldn’t get past the price tag - despite all the mom’s who had raved about them. I was committed, we bought the chair and I had an artistic vision. When it was complete, I dressed it up with two grey linen pillows and it tied in with our rustic themed nursery perfectly.
When we welcomed in our precious baby girl we were so thankful, yet we didn’t realize what we would also welcome in; many sleepless nights, physical trauma and a long recovery.
The first month the chair was too hard for my post baby body to sit on. The down-filled pillows compacted to nothing the moment I put my weight on them, the illusion of comfort was quickly forgotten. Also, the chair’s tall wooden arms made it nearly impossible to breastfeed in for this struggling mama- baby – duo.
At six weeks postpartum, we moved houses and cities. We painted the nursery the same light grey shade of silver shores and set up a new nursery with the same furniture and decor. I placed the chair in a corner by the window. It had gotten a little scuffed in the move but still looked as charming as ever. It was yet to be used but I was still optimistic.
At eight weeks we took our newborn photos. All the strife this chair had given me was redeemed. The chair gave us our favourite baby photo: My daughter sitting on a pillow in the chair, a fierce look in her eyes and me leaning over looking at her.
I was thankful it had proven itself useful for something.
A couple months later, during the dreaded sleep transition period known to some as ‘the sleep regression’, our good sleeper became a good waker.
The chair finally fulfilled its purpose as I tried to rock our five month old to sleep with another bottle. As I sat there and reflected about our journey thus far, the difficult birth, the trials and failures of breastfeeding, the long nights of short sleep. Hard, uncomfortable, unrelenting - that’s how this chair felt to me, that’s how motherhood felt to me.
On the nights Elenour was sick and I was in the chair for hours, I regretted my furniture decisions. I can’t possibly fall asleep in this chair even though I am beyond exhausted. Falling asleep on the floor seemed more appealing.
Months passed and my daughter was able to sit on my lap as I sat on that old wooden rocking chair. I would sing her ‘her song’ I would read her a book. I would be too distracted to focus on the challenges of the chair and enjoy the opportunities for connection it brought.
Another house, another move, another nursery - this time we were preparing for our second baby.
The chair got nicked again in the move, we talked about repainting it - we talked about replacing it - we did neither.
Enter in our second baby, sleepless nights but a more peaceful birth.
Our little one slept in our room while we had to transition our older one out of the nursery into a new room. We used the chair for our photos, but not much else for the first months.
We moved our new baby into the nursery. The chair fulfilled its purpose as I more confident and coordinated, began to breastfeed in it and use it more regularly. It was the only area to sit near by the crib. It was still hard, still uncomfortable, it was still unwilling to relent, unwilling to change. On longer nights I remembered my previous sentiments about it. But there was a peace knowing I had gotten through these challenging nights before and soon my baby would grow and things would change.
I nursed my daughter Willow for the last time in that chair. She showed little interest in drinking and more in ‘play biting’. I ended up just holding her and rocking her knowing that our challenging nursing season had come to an end, knowing a new one, and a new baby was coming.
I still have mixed feelings about the wooden rocking chair. I don’t appreciate the discomfort, the unmet romantic notions, the way it’s firmness greets me every time I forget the pillows will only pack out on contact. I still desire another chair if I’m being honest, one that is both soft and aesthetic.
But yet when I get deep in thought, I find myself returning to appreciate all that it’s been through. I think of the journey it’s made, the memories, the photos, all the moments, good and bad. I appreciate its ability to sustain me when my legs were aching; it’s consistency through the years. It’s continual reminder that seasons will pass, that maybe motherhood like this old wooden chair is never meant to be comfortable but rather faithful, constant and present through the changing seasons.