Chair Memories – The Spit-up Chair

The Spit-Up Chair

I know. Not an appealing title. But that’s what we called it.

The poem in a previous post brought back memories of a chair I sat in for about six years. Okay, I did get up out of the chair now and then, but some days I felt like I never left that chair. It was the chair where I nursed and held and rocked and read to my three babies.

I must have looked like this picture much of the time….. tired. On second thought, I look pretty good in this picture. It looks like I had bathed. And had on makeup.

Our first baby spit up a lot. When I shared my worry with the pediatrician, he suggested we keep her upright for thirty minutes after a feeding. Putting her in the infant seat didn’t help, so I would sit in the chair, holding her upright for an additional thirty minutes after she nursed. Sometimes even that didn’t work. It seemed like I was always changing my clothes and wiping down the chair. It went on for months. We chose to sacrifice one chair in order to protect the rest of our furniture. Hence the name.

Sitting in the chair, I daydreamed. I solved the problems of the world. I made business plans that would allow me to stay at home and earn money. I nodded off. I smelled sweet baby smells. I smelled spit up. I felt baby heart beats. I perfected my burping technique. I sang lullabies. I watched TV – sometimes watching history unfold.

Challenger Space Shuttle - Picture courtesy the NASA Johnson Space Center (NASA-JSC)

The most memorable for me was January 28, 1986, when the Challenger Space shuttle broke apart after lift off. All day and all night the footage repeated on the television as I nursed, held, and rocked my two-month-old baby. The coverage was non-stop. Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher to venture into space…. her students and family and friends watching proudly and with great excitement and anticipation. It was a sad day to be sitting in the spit-up chair.

Kids and Grandparents and the Spit-up Chair

We kept the chair for several years after spit-up ceased being a daily occurrence. The chair remained important for rocking, reading, soothing booboos and hurt feelings, singing, watching TV, and posing for pictures.

We no longer have the spit-up chair. But we still have the memories.

Did you ever hear of Mickey, how he heard a racket in the night…

Our worn copy of In the Night Kitchen

… and shouted QUIET DOWN THERE!

The first thing I learned from Facebook this morning was that Maurice Sendak died. His life is part of my family history because he wrote and illustrated a book that was my son’s favorite as a little guy – starting well before the age of 2. Our book is well-worn from repeated reading and carrying it about from place to place – always at the ready to sit and enjoy it one more time.

Sendak is probably best known for Where the Wild Things Are. The favorite at our house was In the Night Kitchen, the story of Mickey who wakes in the night and has an adventure with three bakers who look like Oliver Hardy and who shout repeatable refrains like  “Milk! Milk! Milk for the morning cake!”

A Page from "In the Night Kitchen"

As was true for several of his books, there was a bit of controversy over In the Night Kitchen – in this book because of the anatomically correct illustrations. When I delivered my son to a mom in our baby-sitting co-op, I’d take along his book and tell her that if there were any problems, just read this book. Upon my return, I would sometimes get a raised eyebrow and a comment about the “interesting” pictures. But we didn’t care ’cause “We bake cake! And nothing’s the matter!”

Back in December, I was moved by this interview with Maurice Sendak on Fresh Air on NPR.

Thanks for the memories Maurice and Mickey.