Last week I tried to take A to the store. I put her in her stroller and for the first few minutes, she was fine. This quickly deteriorated, and she started screaming. I took her outside to try to get her to calm down, where a lady said to me, “Uh oh, looks like someone is hungry or wet!” I looked right at her and said, “Actually, she just ate half an hour ago and being wet doesn’t really bother her, but she actually has a fresh diaper on, thanks for the help.” Yes, I snapped. I’m not particularly proud of it, but she was being pretty condescending. File this under how NOT to deal with unsolicited advice.
We get these kind of comments a lot, especially when someone else is holding her. A is not an easy baby. She wants to be held all the time, she doesn’t sleep well (unless, of course, she is being held), and she has her fussy times (usually between 4-8pm, but occasionally a pop up fuss occurs). When we’re with other people and they’re holding her and she squirms or cries some, they automatically assume she’s hungry or wet or tired, or basically in some way I am not making sure her basic needs are met.
In her almost two months with us, I have learned a lot about little miss fuss. I know how to calm her down, how she likes to be held, when she’s hungry, or when she’s tired, because I am her mother. And even though she can be fussy (we’re pretty sure she’s somewhat colicky) and only really sleeps when she’s with us, she is on a pretty consistent schedule right now, eating every 2.5-3 hours, taking 3-4 naps daily, and going to bed between 9-10pm every night.
So, I get a little offended when other people assume I am not doing something right. I want to say, “No, she just doesn’t like to be held that way.” Most people cradle A, but when she’s awake, she much prefers either sitting up in your lap or being held up on your shoulder. She’s very curious, very alert, and likes to look around. Or I could tell them, “She’s bored.” Because she likes to look at things, she gets bored pretty quickly, so I spend most of my time walking around, showing her different things, or taking her outside. She LOVES being outside.
I know there are a lot of more experienced moms out there, but what I’m saying is, please don’t assume a new mom doesn’t know what’s wrong with her crying child simply because she’s a new mom. Chances are she knows exactly why her baby is upset and is trying to rectify it the best way she can, which is to say however her baby wants her to. And even if she doesn’t and like A, the baby is just fussy, she probably doesn’t need someone telling her “he/she is probably hungry, you need to feed him/her more” or “have you changed her/him recently?” Trust me, it will only frustrate Momma more.
(And don’t even get me started on making comments to someone about how they’ve chosen to feed their child. That’s another discussion for another time.)
So, I’m going to speak on behalf of new mommies everywhere: If you’re going to say something, please be helpful, and try not to come across as judgmental. We’re tired, okay? We can’t always control what we say when we’re sleep deprived (I’m sure you remember what that’s like), and we would hate to come across as rude.