Listening to My Son

baby - not Kerry'sAs new parents, my husband and I are learning quite a bit these days.

The past few weeks have been filled with new sights and sounds, new hopes and new fears. In the midst of it all, we are frequently offered advice that often is unsolicited, well-intentioned, and contradictory. And so we nod and we listen and let it wash over us, soaking in what seems worthwhile.

And we are working first on listening to our son, trying to read his cues and coos as he learns to tell us what he wants in the best way he can. Of course, this kind of vigilance can be exhausting.

A frequent conversation with my husband goes something like this:

Me, speaking about our son, as my husband passes his crib: Is he breathing?

My husband, pausing briefly: yes

Me: Are you sure?

My husband: yes

Me: Can you just double-check?

My husband, giving me a look and then dutifully pausing a second time: yes

So I am trying to ask God to quiet those fears and worries, to help me to be present to my son, not out of worry, but with a sense of joy and love. Of course, God’s response to this is sometimes as hard to interpret as my son’s coos or cries. Still, I work toward finding that balance.

Late one warm evening, the light from the alley outside our apartment sneaks through the window but is not enough to illuminate my son’s face as he lies sleeping in the co-sleeper in our room. And so I lean in close to him and hold my own breath for a moment in order to listen for his. And I hear his tiny breaths, and I smile and go back to bed. And then I hear a tiny coo and gurgle, my new favorite sounds. I bless him. Then I give thanks for that still, small voice that tells me so much without any words at all.

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Kerry Weber
Kerry Weber is a Mercy Associate and Managing Editor of America magazine. She is an alumna of the Mercy Volunteer Corps and of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She lives in New York City and is the author of Mercy in the City.


  1. Thank you. I am praying for the same things. My husband is a stroke survivor. I listen to his breathing, I feel for his heartbeat, I try to understand his cues. I try to be present in joy and love.

  2. I love this story! It takes me back 26 & 24 years ago when my sons, Cooper and Connor were born and illuminated my life, my husband Tom’s life and our marriage. We are SO looking forward to one day being called, “Grandma” and “Grandpa”. My husband never remembers his dreams, while mine are always filled with detail. Honest to goodness, one night, we both had the same dream about Cooper & Heather having a baby girl! We were both amazed! She isn’t a twinkle in her parents’ eyes yet, but we can’t wait to see her some day! Congratulations to you & your husband on the birth of your beautiful baby boy! Little boys are SO much FUN and they have a fierce love, especially for their Momma’s! Enjoy! Read to him every day, starting now. Blessings! Love, Donna xoxoxo

  3. Congratulations Kerry from Australia. Your listening to your son’s breath brings back memories of me as a young mum 46 years ago, listening to my eldest daughter’s breath, wondering if all was well.
    Enjoy your precious moments as a new family.

  4. I have also leaned over the cribs of my children and grandchildren to listen for the next breath. What I always try to remember is that God loves them far more than I ever could and God will be with them every moment of their lives. Blessings to you and your husband and to your little baby boy!!

  5. I understand your concern about the baby’s breathing as I was exactly like that when my sister’s baby was born. I was terrified she was not breathing. So it taught me that we have to relax and trust too.

  6. Congratulations , Kerry. As I read your post I have just heard the cry of my new 4 week old granddaughter , Ivy who is in the next room. I know and remember well how scary bringing a new baby home, is. God bless you all.


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