As a new mother of a seemingly “good baby” I was happy to answer this question.
“Oh Yes he is! He doesn’t cry very much… mostly he just sleeps in my lap and nurses.”
“Oh that is so nice. You are blessed.”
“Thank you so much. I know. He’s amazing! I believe my World’s Best Baby Maker Award will be arriving in the mail next week.”
This was our new family’s “Honeymoon Period.” Despite recovering from a C-section, I was on a little baby-lovin’ cloud those first few weeks. Honestly, all I had to do was sniff his head and I was high off of my own motherly hormones.
I loved breastfeeding…Talk about feeling loved! I smile just thinking of how happy it made me to nurse Dominic the Good. The problem came as I stopped needing my pain medicine.
Once the Vicoden left my breast milk, my good baby left me as was replaced by Dominic the Not-So-Good. I didn’t view him as meeting the Good Baby standards anymore. He was no longer in a haze but very alert and very angry.
As a new parent set, my husband Chris and I were bewildered by his new attitude – the scrunched, red face and the little flailing limbs. He truly sounded like he was furious with us. We didn’t understand that babies all adjust to change differently and that being born isn’t as easy for some as it is for others.
In the next months I would learn a bottomless pit of information about fussy babies, often from the Fussy Baby Site. Sadly, I couldn’t attempt to explain why Dominic was the way he was to other people without it taking hours.
I felt very sad that he didn’t fit into the extremely narrow borders of the Good Baby box anymore which apparently meant that I needed to drug him. I wanted other people to see him the way that I did because to a passerby he was a fussy baby. That term made me uncomfortable because I heard it as “bad baby.”
The stigma of having a colicky or fussy baby isn’t pleasant because it is often assumed that we are doing something incorrectly. Carrying this stigma is a much heavier load when you care what other people think as much as I do. I cringed when people asked me if he was a good baby once he didn’t fit the bill.
I would say yes, and would feel that I was lying. But I wasn’t, because he was mine and he sure as hell wasn’t a BAD baby. Is there such a thing? No. So why do we ask new mothers this?
I came across a blog post by a woman who was sick of the question “Is he a good baby?” Many of the comments on her post told her that she was too sensitive and that good just meant easy. They said she was over-thinking it. I laughed as I read her post because I could completely relate. I laughed even harder when I read the comments. There is not a doubt in my mind that those same women have asked the good baby question…every time they see a new baby.
As parents of fussy, colicky and high need babies we hear a lot of unhappy baby vocalizations. Unwanted comments and advice often follow when we are in public. We are worn thin many times and consequently – Yes! We are sensitive on the topic. That’s to be expected. Who wouldn’t be?
I felt very inadequate when I wasn’t able to sooth my son’s cries, which was most of the time. I felt jealous of parents who had easy babies. His first 6 months were ridiculously difficult, but we came out the other side alive and he is a great little toddler!
This too shall pass but until it does…
The good baby question is one that people ask without thinking (just like the “are you pregnant with twins” question).
We should try to have a thick skin about it I suppose, but it’s okay if it ticks us off too!