He started sleeping through the night when he was 7 weeks old. And by through the night, I mean from 7:30 p.m. until 5 in the morning. And 5 gradually became 10:30. People said I was lucky. He’d wake every morning at 6, and chat to himself before falling asleep for another 4 hours. And I would wait, imagining a blue baby. I would think, I’m going to go in there and he’ll be dead. And it’ll be my fault. Why would anyone leave me with a baby?
I cried every day. I remember telling both my husband and my mother that I wasn’t OK, but they said I was fine. And then they would praise G, as though he were proof that I was fine. It was clear to me, though, that I wasn’t my son. No, I’m his mother. And I’m not OK. My skin hurt. It was too tight. It was stretched and bruised. My nipples bled sometimes, and my gums. The light was too bright. I couldn’t remember to eat. He would sleep for two long naps every day. We slept and he nursed and I read Patrick O’Brian and decided this wasn’t really hardship. Hardship was starving in the middle of the ocean. Hardship was losing your arm to gangrene. I really should be stronger. Why can’t I be stronger?
When I think about having another child, I dread those months. The raw beating of them: the fracture between the joy of this child bouncing and squealing, patting my face while he memorized me, and my misfiring brain. A thriving child is not proof that you are shiny happy. I had a constant anxiety about a blue baby. I dreamed that baby waking and sleeping. Month after month, while everyone assured me I was fine.