I love how furniture has a history – how it tells a story – and nursery room furniture is no exception. When I was pregnant with my first child, I received a rocking chair from my sister-in-law, who had used it to rock her three babies. So many middle of the night feedings have taken place in that chair. Sick babies have been comforted while their fevers cooled. Countless books have been read in silly voices. I’ve snuggled my children, kissed their necks, and sang songs about our beautiful Savior in that rocking chair. Although there is nothing unique or special about the chair itself, it has become a sacred place where unconditional love is expressed between my children and me.
In God’s perfect design, all children are born into families who love and provide for them. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world where children are harmed by those who were created to protect them and relinquished by those who were meant to provide security. Sometimes this is an act of love. Other times, it’s not. The result is a baby who never gets to sit in a rocking chair each night with his mama or baba. No books, no kisses, no songs, no snuggles. Instead, these children find themselves in a room filled with cribs, often stark and cold, not even a mattress to bring them comfort. Vacant eyes of other children stare back at them while their needs and cries go unanswered. My heart aches for the thousands upon thousands, millions upon millions of babies who have to live apart from a family in these conditions.
Bringing home my China loves has only increased the beauty of the chair where I had previously rocked my first two sons. To connect with them in that sacred space was something I yearned for in the wait. God has provided so many opportunities for healing and bonding in that simple rocking chair. In that space, I can reassure my new sons, working to plant deep roots of security in their hearts. Watching those small seeds grow into trust and love is such a gift. A child whose body was rigid when held now asks to be rocked and cuddled. A child who turned his body away when hugged now tightly squeezes us with a smile on his face.
I’ll never forget the first night with Tyson after flying home from China. While holding my sweet son in the rocking chair and rhythmically patting his back, I whispered these words in his ear:
…and have continued to do so every night ever since. It was a tradition we started after bringing his big brother, Tucker, home 19 months prior. Knowing that nighttime can trigger fear and insecurity, we wanted our children to go to sleep every night hearing the names of the people who would love them forever. We wanted to reassure them that they are home and with their family. Sitting in that chair, while rocking my little guy, I have repeated “Mama, Dada, Noah, Liam, Tucker, Tyson, Home, Family” over and over again.
When TyTy came home, he calmed his fears by sucking his finger. I think that finger was in his mouth the entire 35-hour trip home from China. Once home, as soon as we would sit down in the rocking chair, Ty would pop his finger in his mouth and begin to close his eyes. Seven weeks later, he had surgery to repair his cleft palate, which meant arm restraints and no finger to suck. He reverted to what we guess was an old coping mechanism that we had never seen him exhibit before – rocking on all fours while banging his head against his crib. Sometimes the banging would occur with gentle rocking, while other times, he rocked and banged his head with great force. This was super heartbreaking to watch in the video monitor.
Without a mama in China to rock him, my baby learned to rock himself.
To help him feel more secure, we tried a multitude of strategies. I went into his room to comfort him. We used a weighted blanket to provide pressure and sensory input. We attempted to give him other comfort items for his crib. I ordered several essential oils to help him feel more peaceful. We even moved him into a pack-n-play because the walls were made with flexible material rather than the wooden slats that his crib offered. While I do believe that these strategies helped him to a certain extent, the behaviors of rocking and banging did not completely extinguish.
Over the past 8 months, I have sat in that chair, rocking my son before almost every nap and again almost every single night. I’ve continued to repeat the names of the people in our family, as well as the words home and family, each night before bedtime. Many times he will even repeat me, or he will say the words, and I will repeat him. Ty shows so many signs of improved security during the day and even at night. A few nights ago, I listened and watched him in the monitor. This time, there was no rocking – only peace – as he spoke these sweet words that I captured on video. And then he drifted off to sleep. Once again, the Lord has shown me that He heals in time and with love.