I can only conclude the boy does not like onions. Add that to the list of dairy and soy: my diet is more restricted than even when I was pregnant. I can eat a little cheese, but no latte. A half a cup of soy was enough to disturb his sleep. And on Thursday, after onions in my lunch and then a whole onion in a tomato sauce I made for dinner (it was a lot of onion, granted, way too much for the sauce, but we had no vegetable in the house, not a single one, not even frozen, and I figured it was close enough to a vegetable that we might as well eat a lot of it), the boy was up for fifteen hours straight. He would try to sleep and then jerk awake as if he were being dropped off a cliff, his arms flying above him to try to save himself. Grunting and then crying, his face red and his tongue curled back. Nursing him didn’t soothe him, though he tried repeatedly to see if it would help his stomach. He’d kick and claw me as he suckled.
This is when two people are necessary. Steve holds him and walks him in circles around the dining room table, shifting him from one position to another, trying this sling and that, trying the boppy chair and the graco swing, to see if it will help. Then there’s that look in his eyes and I take over, nursing and cooing and singing. I wanted to record it, the sound of his crying, just an hour of it to post it here. It’s a never-ending siren.
In the dark, it’s midnight and he’s been going strong since lunch and there’s no sign it will stop. Sitting on the edge of the bed in the dark with a broken cry in my arms, exhausted and all of us helpless, I think for just a second that I’m holding an old radio that’s gone haywire. I picture as if in a dream what people do to old radios that don’t stop sounding — throw them across the room. I picture that old brown radio with the spiders inside now in pieces, everyone depressingly satisfied.
But it’s a baby, even in the dark when I can’t see him, and so I give him to Steve. We do this passing between us like a relay in the Olympics. Because just when you think you’ve tried everything and maybe you should just put him down and go put tennis shoes in the dryer and lean against it until the cycle is silent, another person can scoop him up and try something you hadn’t thought of — something simple you cannot find inside the echo of your own tin brain.
Often when he’s crying I am quiet and warm and try to access inside of him that still small voice. Often when he’s crying Steve will try to override the chaos inside the baby with external chaos — walking briskly with him, rocking him swiftly, blasting music. Thursday night, the music worked. I think it was M.I.A. very loud at midnight in our dining room. And suddenly the boy was silent, and then he was asleep. He slept for over six hours, sweaty. When I touched him he curled back into himself like a tentacle of some animal in the sea, leave me alone, onion mama, until my poops aren’t green.