I’ve read that colic is sometimes called “100 days of crying.” We just passed the 100 day mark with our little baby, and we have definitely not had 100 days of crying. Our sweet baby has been calm and happy from the beginning. In fact, I think it’s now safe to say that she’s what you might call an “easy” newborn.
Now, before you hate me, let me tell you how incredibly NOT easy her big sister was.
From day one, Big Sister was a fussy baby. No, really–day one! I have memories from the hospital of a zombie-like Nate bouncing Big Sister in a dark, quiet corner. When we brought her home, we spent hours each night (and day) swaying on the exercise ball, bouncing her in our arms, doing laps around the house, and switching the baby back and forth from swing to bouncer.
I wrote this when Big Sister was three-weeks-old: “A few nights ago, I got 7 hours of sleep. Sounds great, right? Well, yes, until you consider that I got 7 hours of sleep out of an ATTEMPTED 14. That’s 14 hours of changing diapers, feeding, burping, rocking, and trying to get all of us to sleep.”
And I wrote this to Big Sister when she was one month: “Let’s be honest–we’re in the ‘why do people have kids?!’ phase. Don’t get me wrong-we love you, but life is tough right now. And pre-baby life was so easy and wonderful and quiet and predictable. We’re not handling the middle-of-the-night feedings, fussy times, and diaper changes very well. We both just want to sleep.”
With all of that, you’d think we would have prayed that the second baby would have been easier. Nope. We love our spunky, smart, confident, outgoing two-year-old. And I have to assume that her personality as a newborn somehow factors into her personality now. Instead of praying that our second child would be easier, our prayer was that God would help us to nurture and love whatever personality He chose to give our new baby. And He answered that prayer. We love this baby’s personality!
To all the parents out there who think there baby is, um, challenging, let’s define what I mean when I say our new baby is “easy.”
To me, “easy” simply means that she sleeps. And since she sleeps, Mommy and Daddy sleep. And since she naps well, Mommy gets a break during the day. That’s all it takes to be considered “easy” in my book! Because if I get some sleep and a little break, I can better handle poop, spit up, toddler tantrums, and baby meltdowns. Everything is easier when you get good sleep.
Here’s what having an easy baby does not mean:
1) It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t cry. Baby Z cries when she’s hungry or when she’s overstimulated in the evening. But we are really proactive when it comes to sleepiness and hunger, so she doesn’t cry much.
2) It doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need help to sleep. I figure that every baby has a favorite trick that parents need to learn to help their particular baby calm down and go to sleep.
A friend just texted me the other day to say that her new baby falls asleep to the sound of the hair dryer.
Big Sister’s trick was motion. She needed to move.
Baby Sister likes to lie flat on her back in a dark room. Um, yeah, in the middle of the night, can you guess which daughter is/was easier to put back to sleep?
Also, we are big fans of swaddle blankets. Big, big fans. I don’t know if it’s because the baby spent a week tightly swaddled in the NICU or what, but swaddling definitely helps. (We like the Woombie.) And both girls used pacis. Love ’em or hate ’em–they work for us. Granted, the baby doesn’t always take one when she goes back to sleep in the middle of the night. She just talks to herself, coos, and eventually nods off on her own. (Awesome!) But she does use a paci for naps. (Wubbanub’s may look strange, but they’re great “loveys.”)
3) It doesn’t mean she’s clean. In the past three months of the new baby’s life, I have been pooped and puked on more times than I can count. I’ve had friends say things like, “Wow, she spits a lot.” Or “That baby poops more than any other baby I’ve met.” Both are true. And yeah, all of those outfit changes, extra loads of laundry, and poop smears on the wall are a pain, but at least I’m getting some sleep.
4) It does not mean we’re good parents. Or that fussy babies have bad parents. It’s true that we’re different people and different parents than we were with our first child. But that’s nothing compared to how vastly different our two girls are. Please remember that the next time you hear a screaming baby or toddler in Walmart or see desperate parents trying to soothe a fussy child in a restaurant. That child’s behavior may have nothing to do with the parents ability or inability to parent. And although it may inconvenience the rest of us, fussy babies (and their exhausted parents) need to leave the house and venture out in public now and then, too.
So to parents with sweet, happy babies I say: thank God every day for your easy baby (you may not realize how lucky you are). Enjoy your rest (so many parents wish for what you have). Pray that your baby’s pleasant personality turns into positive adult traits like optimism and flexibility (because “happy” and “calm” is not the same as “weak” and “passive.”)
And to parents with grumpy babies: this stage will pass (sooner than you think). You will someday get some sleep (give it a year or two). Don’t blame yourself (you’re a better parent then you realize). And don’t be scared to have another baby (the next baby could and should be completely different).
(Can you relate to our stories of life with two little ones? If so, we’d love for you to hang around and read more. Like us on facebook or subscribe to email updates to stay connected!)