[Edited to add additional thoughts; see below.]
Like moms with babies everywhere, I often get asked “Is she a good baby for you?” And while I COULD very easily get worked up or exasperated about the ridiculousness of such a question, I don’t let it rub me the wrong way. I know what they mean to ask, which is basically “tell me as briefly as possible how things are going.” Or “I’m going to ask you a quick question so that I can then tell you about how MY babies were.” Sometimes, it just something people say, the baby version of “how are you?”; something people ask without really needing an answer. The implication with this question, of course, is that if she’s a “good baby” she doesn’t fuss much and she sleeps all night. If she wakes up a bunch or cries a ton, she’s… not a “good baby”? A bad baby? A naughty baby? I’m not sure.
Usually the person asking this question is someone I don’t know well. And so I smile brightly and reply “Oh, yes, she’s a great baby. She’s a little fussy, but we love her.”
I mean, who would answer any other way? Who would say “Oh, she’s a TERRIBLE BABY!”
But you guys, she’s… not a good baby. Or at least, she’s certainly not an easy baby.
Of course, I love her to pieces. Of course. And since I know that you all know that, I feel like I can be straight with you.
Because this baby? Rides my ass twentyfourseven.
She’s fussy. She pukes ALL OVER ME all day long (which is a problem at this stage postpartum as I have approximately 3 items of clothing that fit). She sometimes cries a lot in the evenings. We are always bouncing and shhhh-ing and swaddling and putting a paci in her mouth. We rock her and wear her in the Moby wrap and pace the house with her. I change her clothes 3-4 times a day, wipe spit up off of every surface, go through burp cloth after burp cloth. I rhythmically pat her butt and sing to her. All. Day. Long.
(Thank goodness for Dr. Karp’s methods for parenting a fussy newborn!)
She usually does fine in the car, as long as the car is moving. But the SECOND the car stops– no matter HOW deeply she’s sleeping– she wakes up and starts grintching. As I write this, she’s napping on the bed beside me, and I have to continually reach over and gently rock her butt back and forth, to keep her asleep and not crying.
At times, I am really stressed out by her. Last night, for example, when she’d been up EVERY. HOUR. to eat I was so tired and she couldn’t possibly STILL be hungry and she was fussing and GRAH GRAH GRAH. I wanted to throw her out the window. (I didn’t.) (Instead I made David take her downstairs. By this time, it was already 6:30 AM).
But luckily for me (and Olive!), generally, her fussiness doesn’t put me over the edge. I’m so glad she’s not my first baby because now I know that her babyhood will go very quickly, and that I WILL sleep again, and that she will outgrow this stage. Perspective is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? And I don’t mind having her in my arms most of the day (though I WOULD like to pee/shower/make coffee without a screaming baby in the background).
I like wearing her close to my body. I am proud that I am able to handle her so well, despite her constant demands.
Sometimes I get really sad that her newbornhood is zooming by so quickly. And then other times, when I’ve been bouncing her for 77 hours straight, I am excited and ready for her to outgrow this phase. Yes, please, I’ll take an older baby that plays with toys and sleeps at predictable times and doesn’t demand my breasts every 8 minutes. And just about the time that I get bummed that she’s my last baby, I have a night like last night, and I think SHE IS FOR SURE MY LAST BABY OH MY GAWD.
(She is FOR SURE my last baby. But my level of acceptance of this varies.)
So is she a good baby?
No. But also, yes.
(I know you know what I mean.)
I love her so.
**Edited to add:
1. Some people have REALLY FUSSY BABIES (all caps intended), and their lives are truly 100% about keeping baby happy/keeping themselves sane. Olive is moderately fussy, or perhaps some days she’s Moderately Fussy. Girlfriend can go from zero to PURPLE-FACED PISSED-OFF in about 5-10 seconds, no exaggeration. But there’s also plenty of times that she’s sleeping (she does take longish naps most days), or… well, mostly just when she’s sleeping, that’s she’s not demanding anything.
2. I think there is a big difference– HUGE, really– between having a fussy baby as your first baby and having a fussy baby as your 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) baby. Marin was the Ultimate Easy Baby, and we’re doing nothing all that different with Olive… so I have complete confidence that her fussiness is not a result of something I’m doing (or not doing) as a parent. I don’t doubt myself or make myself crazy trying to figure out what I’m doing wrong. I’m not going down the rabbit hole of wondering if it’s something I’m eating or something medically wrong with her etc. (Though I DO wonder if her amount of spitting up is normal, I wonder in a calm rational way, very UNLIKE how I would’ve wondered my first time around.) The gift of the fourth child is that I KNOW she just… IS. She is what she is, and I’m doing my best, and it will all pass soon enough. If there was one thing I could give first-time parents, it would be THAT knowledge.
… and she’s fussing again. Gotta go!