As we watched our 4-year-old vomit onto my beloved nursing chair last month, a thought occurred to me: This chair has seen some stuff.
That was the non-expletive thought, anyway. There were other inappropriate thoughts that all of you parents battling winter viruses would understand.
It’s unexpected to feel love and nostalgia for a piece of furniture, but when that piece of furniture literally holds the blood, sweat, and tears of you and your babies deep in its microfibers, it’s hard not to.
The nursing chair is a privileged addition to the buy list when the first baby is on their way. It isn’t necessary and – as many of us do – I nursed in whatever seating was available: couches, beds, dining tables, rest area picnic tables, farmer’s market curbs, etc. When we were home, I used the chair.
We went for pure comfort when picking it out, rather than a trendy aesthetic or one that might discourage falling asleep. It’s a recliner-style, Best-brand chair from Buy Buy Baby and retailed for around $350 10 years ago. I love this chair.
In this chair:
- I marveled at our first newborn, repeatedly counting each tiny appendage and temporarily thrilled to be experiencing the novelty of being awake all night to support new life.
- I wondered and worried at the physical pain and transformation of postpartum bodies and nursing breasts.
- I guiltily enjoyed nursing our baby to sleep and reading my novel while listening to my husband clean up the kitchen.
- I anxiously watched our 3-month old fight his first fever through the night, convinced no other baby had ever experienced this.
- My husband had the first of many middle-of-the-night conversations about cars with our toddler son.
- I “slept” with our infant daughter for her first month to make sure her RSV didn’t turn into her older brother’s pneumonia, staring at the movement of her lungs for any sign of struggle and shoving my boob into her mouth to make sure she didn’t lose weight.
- Our son read his favorite Goldbug book to his baby sister while they cuddled, and we watched their partnership take shape.
- I raged against our baby’s sleep habits as the pile of papers to grade awaited me on my desk.
- I took turns with each of our three children throwing up into the nearby trash can and then tried to rock them back to sleep.
- My husband silently fist-pumped while cuddling our sleeping daughter when I gleefully showed him my positive pregnancy test.
- I wrestled with the decision to leave my job and stay home with babies, not knowing then that I would never regret it.
- My son and I battled each other – him desperate for a comfort nurse, me desperate for some semblance of independence – both of us tearful and stressed about the end of nursing.
- I first read about this thing called Covid-19.
And on and on. Many of our transformative parenting moments have roots in this chair and that’s not even an exaggeration. I felt all the feelings here, from immense joy to extreme anxiety, from peace to pain.
When the nursing sadly/thankfully/finally ended, we left the chair in the youngest’s room for snuggles and inevitable night wake-ups. When we had to turn that room into an office, we reluctantly moved it into the living room. I was unwilling to part with it and so now it adds necessary – if unstylish – seating to the rumpled center of our home.
Ultimately, this chair will probably become a fixture in the basement, treated recklessly and disrespectfully by growing teens. It might still see more vomit.
But it will always be a place I learned to mom.