They sleep well at an early age, rarely cry, nurse well or tolerate any type of formula and are pleasant around everyone. These are just some of the ways to describe what many would consider “good” babies. Such other words as easy, calm or unfussy are often tossed around, but they all mean the same thing. They are used to talk about those perfect babies that make us question why our bundles of joy are not such a joy after all.
If your child doesn’t seem to fit the description of a good baby, does that make him a bad baby? Bad is a strong word, and one that shouldn’t be used when referring to an infant. However, it is hard not to think that way if you feel you have the most difficult child in the world.
I was that mom. I would secretly curse those always well-rested, always smiling parents with their darling babies that always smiled and pooped rainbows. I was exhausted.
My son was a poor sleeper from the start. He spent most of his early life sleeping on my chest, except when he was nursing, which was all the time. He eventually moved on to a bassinet next to my bed, then a crib in his own room and now a toddler bed. He sleeps on his own, except when he doesn’t, which is almost every night.
My son had an easy time nursing, except that my milk made him sick. I stopped eating dairy. I love dairy. I love cheese, ice cream and pizza. I ate the vegan stuff. It’s not bad, but it didn’t quite do it for me. I resented my son for this. I am proud that I did go on to nurse my son for 20 months, even though I thought about quitting much sooner.
Remember how I said my son would only sleep on my chest? Well, he was also pretty attached to me when he was awake. As someone who believes mom and baby should have constant contact, I was okay with this mentally, but I couldn’t always handle it emotionally. My son had hard time being left alone without me. He still throws a fit whenever I leave, he just gets over it quicker.
For a long time, I thought I was the only one who had these challenges as a new mother. Then I started talking to other moms, not just liking their perfect family photos on Facebook, and soon realized that most were often just as frustrated as I was. They may not have had the same challenges I did, but they still had their own struggles and probably felt just as alone.
I am so proud of my now two-year-old son, and I would like to think that his first days and months of life helped shape the person he is today. Maybe if he wasn’t so demanding, he wouldn’t have gotten what he needed.
On the days my son is particularly difficult, when he is throwing himself on the floor in a fit of rage over the littlest of things, I still wonder if maybe I missed the call for the “perfect” baby. I wonder if I am to blame. I then remind myself that it isn’t just me, or my son, and other mothers feel the same. We just need to know that we are okay.