It’s All In The Lips

February 4, 2009
Coleman Pacified

Coleman Pacified

From the very first day Kolette and I decided to try to have a family I have worried about how I would play my part in raising that family. My concern wasn’t so much if I would be able to play a part, but how I would play that part.

I have spent every day from the day I broke my neck in 1986 to today working around my disability. In those 20 plus years I have figured out how to accomplish a great many things that others said would be impossible. But, when my thoughts turned to Coleman, on his way to join us in this world, I not only wondered if I was creative enough to adapt to his needs, but also if he would allow his needs to adapt to my abilities.

This desire to help, and concern about being able to fulfill that desire was only heightened last Tuesday when Coleman was born. I was amazed at how needy he was; how tiny and small. The nurses who helped him in the hospital moved so delicately and with such precision. My movements, as I worked to hold him, seemed big and cumbersome by comparison.

Then, yesterday evening as I was lying in bed Kolette placed Cole in my arms. I played with him, talked with him, kissed him, and cooed at him. It’s amazing the things we’ll say to babies. Stuff like, “Coley Boley Toley Roly Poly” just comes right out of your mouth as if it’s normal everyday conversation.

In the middle of all this tomfoolery, his pacifier fell out of his mouth and onto his chest. Needing to hold onto him with both arms I knew that even if I could move my hands I still had a problem. His eyes began to close and his brow began to furrow and I knew that a big cry was coming.

Not knowing what else to do I used my arms to lift his chest as close to my face as I possibly could. When you’re a quadriplegic you learn early on that your mouth can be one of the best friends of a handless man.

With his chest right against my face I was able to work my lips around the back end of his pacifier. With his pacifier firmly ensconced in my mouth I lowered his chest in an effort to move his head toward my face. My first shot yielded poor results–the pacifier ended up in his eye. My following attempts weren’t much better as I hit his nose and cheek accordingly.

Although I wasn’t able to put the pacifier in his mouth, pushing it around his face helped Cole clue into what I was trying to have happen. Wanting the pacifier in his mouth as badly as I did, he turned his face toward mine searching for the ever soothing binky. Our faces moved around and around almost in unison but without yielding success. Just when I thought we were never going to succeed, Cole put his little hand up near his mouth and happened to push the binky in the hole.

With both of us searching for the “money shot” we finally got the pacifier in his mouth. Cole’s brow unfurled, his eyes opened and the potential cry was averted. It wasn’t pretty and they’ll never teach that technique in a parenting class. But it was a beginning.

It was the beginning of my and Cole’s journey together. It was the first of many things I’m sure we’ll figure out in our own way. It was a small thing but it has given me great hope. I can’t wait to see the things we work out.



  1. What a wonderful experience for you to share with Coleman. Thanks for sharing it here Jason.

    I’m telling you, you guys made one absolutely gorgeous little boy! He is just perfect in his features; just beautiful!

  2. Jason,
    As I’ve been reading your blog and raising a child of my own, I thought of what an interesting position we are in. I may have some of the physical abilities that you talk about not having, but you can understand what it is like for that child of yours to have an itch and not be able to scratch it. Or to want to get something, but not be able to reach it. You can understand what your child is going through better than I ever will, and with that, I know will come a deep and abiding love. Keep up the good work, and if you have any tips, let us know!

  3. Things will work out just perfectly…I promise! Sometimes as parents we may have to work a little extra hard but it is well worth the effort. My best to the 3 of you!

    Grandma Shelley

  4. What a neat story; thanks for sharing it. My mama always said, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”! You, Jason, are the finest example of that phrase.

  5. I have got to stop reading this at work… the tears in my eyes are just slightly embarrassing. 🙂 Love the stories, keep them coming. He is quite possibly the cutest baby on the planet!

  6. I really like reading your posts because they are so real and touching. I know God is going to do great things between you and Cole. The two of you will do things no one thinks possible because you will not give up. God bless.

  7. Go Daddy! You can do it – and I echo the comments posted by Andy Hall – you will be able to relate to this baby in very special ways and you will develop your own ways of communicating and connecting. And he really is one of the most beautiful babies I have ever seen!

  8. As with any parent/child relationship – you are going to find you learn as much from him as he does from you…you are going to instill an amazing determination and skill in Cole that NO child is going to learn from any other parent…and he’s going to appreciate that more than anything else! You are truly an inspiration…enjoy every moment!

  9. Hah for successes. You should look at the little clips for the binky!!! Then you don’t have to worry about it falling on the floor – always attached to the front of their clothes (not sure what age they recommend you use it with infants – but it works great when your travelling – and think it would help you out also.
    You guys are amazing and Cole looks great.

  10. Wow, God gives you such strength to handle anything Jason. YIPPEE!!! My life is so highlighted for the fact that you both are parents!
    My dad had polio in the Korean War before they found the vaccine. Well, he amazed me with his life!
    His hands hung, he would hold a sandwich quite well, use straws for his beverages, and of coarse had a brace on one leg and was 6″3 inches tall.
    His life on earth came to an end 16 years ago, when he fell and hit his head. He walked, always purchased a brand new truck but, could never drive.
    he was truly an inspiration to me like you!
    then I had three children and I think you might of read my comments before, that one is severly mentally ill and lives now for 5 years in a group home, that I had to advocate to put him in.

    I have such compassion to dysfunction and things that never go as planned.

    It is such a pleasure that I got to meet you both at CE and look forward to hearing more of this grand adventure!

  11. Jason, Your story made me cry. And Cole is absolutely adorable. I’m sure the most beautiful baby ever born, right?

    I’m in your Life Well Crafted class, and I got a few days behind, so I just found out that Cole was already here. Congratulations to you and Kolette!


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