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Cry Baby

Cry Baby

Our hope turned to despair as we wondered when and if we would be blessed with a child.


At first I can barely hear my baby's whimpers. But not for long. By the time I reach the baby's room the whimpers have grown into desperate, deafening shrieks. His tiny hands and feet thrash wildly against the sides of the narrow bassinet. His fair face has turned beet red; his sweet little lips pout miserably. My poor two week old baby is starving; he ate three long hours ago, and that meal has since faded from his short memory. He knows only the hunger pangs that pervade his little tummy and his instinctive desperation for food.

I do pity my baby's helplessness. Immobile and without grasping skills, he must depend on others for bare sustenance and is never sure of his next meal. Still, I chuckle at the senselessness of my son's desperation. Only a few inches from him my body busily churns fresh warm milk for him and, as he cries, I feel my milk come in. Though I will let my son cry until he is hungry enough to eat properly, I know that he will soon be happily suckling, all his hunger pangs completely forgotten.

Yet I don't laugh too hard because I am reminded of the cries that filled our home before these lovely newborn shrills took their place. We too, like the baby, began with small whimpers; lip service to God asking for the child we assumed would arrive in due course. But when that did not happen as quickly as expected our whimpers grew louder and louder. We wanted a child! Our hope turned to despair and our whimpers turned to desperation as we wondered when and if we would be blessed with a child.

Thankfully the day has come. With hindsight I understand that God prepared a child for us from the beginning. Through all our pain and tears God must have been standing at our side with this baby held securely in His arms waiting for precisely the right moment to deliver him into my womb. And He too was probably laughing knowing that shortly our anguish would transform to pure joy.

How will we respond next time we long for something out of our reach?

For the moment our hunger is satiated, our thirst is quenched and our pain is forgotten. We are again traveling the road of contentment. But how will we react when another obstacle arises in our path? How will we respond next time we long for something out of our reach? I hope never to be tested for I am not confident that we will be stronger. But now we have the baby. God willing the baby will grow and advance. His memory span will increase, his intellect will develop and his desperation will slowly dissipate as he learns to trust that he will be fed again. He will begin to recognize his parents, see how much we give him and understand our love even when we do not please him.

As we watch our son steadily progress we will, in fact, be watching God building our son, renewing the original blessing of a child, and bestowing upon us fresh joys of parenthood. Through our constant awareness that all that befalls us is guided by God's nurturing hand, we can learn to trust that He will continue to fulfill our needs and watch over us. In the midst of difficult situations, we must remember how distant this blessing seemed and how suddenly it appeared, and understand that God is again with us and ready to rescue us if and when it is best for us. Of course we can always scream in prayer, but with optimism and trust, never with despair.

I can't hold out any more; the baby's screams are too painful. I scoop the baby up and he quiets down. As I begin to feed him, I pray to God that he take pity on all those who still wait for salvation. That He speed the recovery of the ill, send marriage partners to those seeking them and deliver babies to those who yearn for them. That He hush the cries of all us foolish babies who can not perceive our Father standing right next to us. And of course that He quickly bring the ultimate redemption to the entire Jewish nation, "and may God remove the tears from all faces."

November 24, 2007

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Shani, October 3, 2014 6:21 AM


Beautiful article.

(5) Rivka, November 29, 2007 1:11 AM

Torah Perspective on Nursing

A delightful, good book on nursing is "Straight from the Heart: A Torah Perspective on Mothering through Nursing" by Rebbetzin Abramov. Maybe a non-Jewish expert recommends letting a baby cry a bit before nursing, but I have not heard this before. The Torah perspective is that nursing is a child's birthright.

This advice to let a baby cry reminds me of the non-Torah advice I received countless times when my little miracle was born. Baruch Hashem, we have Torah sources available to us so that we can weed out what is truly not good for babies. The Torah would not recommend letting babies cry for this kind of hypothesis.

Additionally, if something feels wrong to a mother, like the letting a baby cry because of an outsider's advice, then the mother should trust her instincts as they were given to her by the Ribbono Shel Olam.

Dear Nechama, please read the above-mentioned book and give your little blessing the comfort (as your name "Nechama" itself means) that is his God-given heritage. Nothing that Hashem creates is foolish, even a small child's crying.

All the best, Rivka

(4) devorah malka, November 27, 2007 8:32 AM

little miracles & nursing

Thank G-d, there were no problems for us in terms of conception or delivery of our baby, but every time I look at her (she is now 15 months) I marvel at the miracle. Babies are the ultimate embodyment of a miracle.

One note about nursing: As pointed out by Ilana, most babies will nurse better if they are less hungry when they are fed. Personally, if I did not get to my baby quickly enough, I would have to squirt some milk in her mouth with a syringe before she would calm down enough to nurse. Mothers can check with their pediatricians or their local La Leche Legue branch (easily found on the web) to learn about the best nursing practices for their individual baby.

(3) ruth housman, November 26, 2007 2:15 AM


Trust that life will bring us joy is sometimes difficult to come by, especially when life is so often filled with despair and it difficult for so many, even if for us personally we feel gifted. When I think cosmically, of ultimate redemption, I have to think about the entire world and not just the "Jewish nation" because surely we are one under God, if this is a core belief. And then it is not just about Jews and I do think we need, all of us, irrespective of religion, to think this way. Also I would love to read some articles about the environment in the Jewish pages here because it is a kind of reverence and love that is also part of mitzvot and caring. Now this article draws a metaphor from the baby to the adult and the metaphor has to do with screaming for help, be it nourishment or the fullfilment of a need. There are such constant gaps in our lives and perhaps, to understand this, we have to realize at some level, that in this mine field that is life, there is a profound learning curve that is embedded in what happens and how we deal with each other.

(2) Ilana, November 25, 2007 3:24 PM

Beautiful! Plus additional info ...

That is a beautiful and accurate comparison. Thank you for sharing it and for sharing your story with us.

I would like to make one comment for the benefit of breastfeeding mothers: many babies actually nurse better when they are *less* hungry. When they become very hungry, they have more difficulty organizing themselves to nurse well. The AAP currently and appropriately recommends nursing a baby at the *first* sign of hunger. The author's baby may be different, but it is important for mothers to realize that this would not be typical baby behavior.

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