Good Baby

[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.

(She’s my sidekick.)

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!


20 thoughts on “Good Baby

  1. It’s a good thing she’s absolutely gorgeous. That helps a little, right? I know it helped me that Sam was so adorable when he was an awful baby.

    I’m sorry that she’s not easy peasy for you. But I’m also glad you got her. : )

  2. She’s lovely. And you are right that it will pass in an eye blink and while you might remember the fussiness, you will probably think of it fondly. That is what I do when I think of my fussy eldest’s newborn-hood. 🙂

  3. I’m totally in tears over this. I’m so tender today, after our family-time together this last week. 100% get this. Believe me. I must see you soon. I’ll come hold her so you can eat a banana for god’s sake!

  4. My son was not a “good baby” if that means easy baby. He is 8 now and a good kid and I love him and blah blah blah insert usual parenting caveats here, but he was my first and he was hard. Ate every 2 hours, needed intense rocking to sleep, hated the car, the whole nine yards. I thought I was going to lose my mind. There is a reason I didn’t even consider having a second child until he was nearly 4. My second was so easy it made me realize babies like that were the reason so many of my friends had kids only 2 years apart. ANYWAY, enough about me, the point is all of these years later I still feel your pain. At least you know it’s not forever. Hang in there!

  5. Oh my yes. I get it, 100%. I know I already posted about this recently, but I will say it again and again: my absolute favorite part of babyhood is WHEN IT’S ALMOST OVER, i.e. starting around ten months old. I love that they’re still acting like babies in the sense that they’re cuddly and smell delicious and can be held relatively easily, but they are NOT nursing twenty four seven and getting up all night long and having explosive poops four times a day.
    Newborns are precious and breathtaking, and when they are YOURS they are infinitely lovable, but my gosh, even with that natural, biologicallly driven perspective, being with a newborn all day long is like this life-sucking endurance test, no? And they have relatively little apparent personality or ability to respond affectionately, so it’s just… it’s rough. Lots of giving and not a lot of getting back, yet.
    Just think, this time next year you’ll be heading off to fall festivals and going on leaf finding walks with a cuddly, kissable little one year old on your hip, and you’ll be well rested (or at least a lot better rested) and your body will be mostly your own again, and yeah… IT GETS BETTER, and all that.

    • The idea that next year at this time I’ll have a 1 year old a) BLOW MY MIND and b) makes me sad and frantic to hold onto this babyhood. That is, until I have a night like last night, and then I’m READY. So, these things are perfectly designed, aren’t they? Newborns are the sweetest, most cuddly little loafs of warm dough… that is except for when they AREN’T, and it’s THOSE moments that allow us to move onto the next stage without too much trouble.

  6. Oh Marie! I love you so much. It’s like you wrote this post JUST for ME (you did? Right?). Because I am already frustrated & anxious & also completely comfortable (at times) with my one week old.

    Olive is so beautiful and even more so knowing who her mother & family are. Even if she is the queen and you all are her serfs.

    • Dude, Erin. I think of you all the time because I think “Erin has four kids just like me!!! And a new baby just like me!!! ……Er, but WAIT. Her oldest is MARIN’S AGE (roughly). AEIIIIIII.” And then I die a little for you, not because I think you can’t handle it (I know you totally can), but because I don’t think *I* would handle it very well.

      Hope things are going well for you! Xoxoxo.

  7. Totally agree about the fussy firstborn and the fussy subsequent baby. My first was super fussy, and I was the most miserable I’ve ever been in my entire life that first 6 months. Which I think tainted me toward “babies in general” unfortunately. My boys (#2 and #3) were much much better. For me, the challenge of the firstborn was worrying that I had signed up for 18 YEARS of misery. That she would not only be a fussy baby, but a fussy toddler, school-ager, fussy teenager. I wish someone could have told me that she would be a happy, “good” and loveable kid, which she is, now, at age 5.

    Glad you have that perspective, but perspective doesn’t help at 6am when you’ve been up every hour. Hope it passes soon.

  8. What is a “good” baby? I mean, a baby is a baby, right? A baby does what a baby has to do. There is no malicious intent, it’s just trying to survive, which IS being a good baby.

    That being said, I get what you mean and there is no shame in admitting you don’t have an easy baby. I also agree that having a non-easy baby is much more stressful when it’s your first.


  9. I always hated that question and felt so pressured into saying YES! She’s a FANTASTIC baby! The best baby EVER! as if that would prove my love for her.

    But my first? Was not easy. (IS STILL not easy.) She was moderately high needs (not crazy colic-y but after I had my second, I realized, whoa, some babies are actually almost EASY) and as a first time mom I was a wreck.

    I’m making a mental note not to ask friends this question. I don’t think I ask it and yet… It’s so the norm to ask that of a new mother, you know?

  10. I think we have a very similar brand of baby and at 3 am after feeding all night long I would like to trade her in but then I look at her and she gives me a milky (gassy) smile and I decide to keep her forever. These newborns are tricky like that.

  11. My older son was a TERRIBLE baby. Terrible. And I told people that (it was likely the severe PPD speaking, but whatevs). It’s a good way to get people to stop asking you the good baby question, though.

  12. My second baby was like this. I was SO glad that she was my second and not my first or I would have been wondering ALL THE TIME what I was doing wrong. As it was, I worried much less (I’ll admit I still worried) and then eventually she started being happier and now she is a smiley 2 year old. People often comment on how happy she is and my husband and I just look at each other and say that she is making it up to us for her first 5 months of life.

    The type of baby you get changes everything, doesn’t it?

    Also, I’m not as noble as you are. I DID sort of bristle when people asked me if she was a ‘good’ baby. I usually said, “Well, all babies are good but if you mean is she an easy baby…then, no, she isn’t!”

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