It was really hard to be Henry’s mother. From the moment he was born, he cried. He cried because he was hungry and my milk hadn’t come in yet. He cried because it had been twenty minutes since his last nursing and he was hungry again. He cried because I wasn’t holding him. And, increasingly, he cried even when I was. For a while, when he was very young, he slept through the night, and I actually had to wake him to nurse, but as the months slipped by, he was waking more and more frequently. Every three hours. Every two hours. Every 90 minutes. Every hour. When I hit the end of my rope, he was waking every 45 minutes, all night long.
It is hard to love when you are exhausted. It is hard to love when nothing you do can make this baby happy. It’s hard to love when the size of your world has shrunk to the circle of your arms. It is hard to love when there is never any relief. I tended to his needs as well as I could without knowing why he cried, and I prayed that genuine affection would grow out of that faithfulness. It hurts to admit that.
It’s been two weeks now since Henry and I began our tomatoes-and-peppers fast, and he is an entirely different child. He’s happy, and he’s a joy to be around. He’s clever and affectionate and busy, just like a baby is supposed to be. He naps a couple of times a day for a couple of hours at a stretch. He still wakes too often at night, but not as often, and I think genuine discomfort has been replaced by just bad habits.
He is seven months old, and I am only just now falling for this little guy. I wish it hadn’t taken so long, and I will forever feel some guilt for not feeling that affection, and that he suffered for so long when I could have spared him, but right now, I’m just loving Henry.