Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Angry Whopper

Max is 11 weeks old now.  Which is pretty crazy, because it feels like we're still on a steep learning curve, but also that it's hard to remember what things were like without him.  So what can I tell you?  Well, things are getting better.  I've got a lot to say, but I'm struggling with how to start.  So I think I'll start small and just try and blog more often to cover it all.

So for today: a confession.

Max is a totally normal baby, at least as far as I can tell.  But the first 2 months were so very hard.  My confession is that I didn't love every minute of being a new mom.  I feel weird confessing this.  I think it's probably a pretty normal sentiment.  But because it was so hard to get pregnant and because of my previous miscarriages, I'd like to say that I was always grateful and happy every minute.  Don't get me wrong, I am so grateful and happy.  But the first 6 weeks?  I cried.  A lot.  And I felt like I lost my identity.  I remember crying to Jeeves one day that I felt I had become simply an udder.  I spent prolonged periods stuck indoors with an angry infant.  Aside from the sleep deprivation, and the breast feeding problems, I think I was just caught off guard about what a baby is like the first 6 weeks.  And that in and of itself was a shock because I have 5 nephews!  I was intimately involved with the kids when they were tiny.  Maybe I forgot, or maybe it's different when it's your own kid and you don't get to hand the baby off when he starts crying.

So yeah, Max cried.  A lot.  Usually for no reason.  Things that I thought babies were supposed to love - walks in a stroller, car rides, baths - he hated all of those things with a passion.  In fact, he seemed to hate most things, except for my boobs.  You know how Burger King has the angry whopper?  It's basically a whopper with jalapenos on it, I think.  Jeeves and I were walking Max one day, and we passed a Burger King.  "Max is the angry whopper," I said.  The nickname stuck.  Even now, when he mostly only cries from hunger or tiredness, we call him The Whopper.  

The Whopper, first month, crying for no discernible reason.

Max would only catnap.  I had heard that newborns spend most of the day sleeping, but Max barely seemed to sleep.  And when he did sleep, he would only do it on me or on Jeeves - he would wake up the second we put him down.  He had a set of lungs on him from day one and he seemed to have only one volume - loud, loud, louder.  The first week he was home with us, someone in our building gave away a swing - we snatched it up, and thank goodness we did.  It's still Max's favorite place to nap. We were finally able to put him down and have him nap somewhere other than on us.  I know that there are worse things than having an adorable baby sleep on you... but when you yourself cannot fall asleep (or eat, or go to the bathroom) because you are worried about dropping and hurting said baby, well.... you really want to put the baby down after awhile.

At his one month wellness check (a horrible day all around - it was Jeeves's first day back at work, so I was on my own and terrified), Max screamed for the entire visit (and for the whole walk to the doctor and most of the walk home).  I could barely hear the doctor.  But she said something important.  When I asked her if I should be concerned about colic, she said to me, "Newborns, especially from 4 to 6 weeks, are the most miserable people on the planet.  Nothing makes them happy.  It will get better after that and it'll be a lot better when I see you at the 2 month appointment.  In the mean time, do what you need to do to help him stop crying, and if you're at your wit's end, it is completely okay to put him down in a safe place, close the door, and let him cry it out for a bit."  And she was right.  I'd say around 7 weeks, things started to improve and by 2 months, the crying/screaming was significantly diminished.

And that's the thing - Max's behavior wasn't colic.  It was completely normal newborn fussiness.  I guess no one ever told me that - that your baby can spend a large chunk of the day miserable, but he doesn't have colic.  He's just fussy.  Fussy because he has an immature nervous system and he doesn't know how to process anything.  Fussy because he's really confused as to why he's still not snug as a bug in the womb, and pretty damn upset about it.  Fussy because you spent a good chunk of the day with new people and now he's completely overstimulated.  

Soothing Max was successful, but it was also a full time endeavor.  Jeeves and I became pretty big Happiest Baby on the Block devotees.  The 5 S's (swaddle, side, shushing, swinging, sucking) were in heavy rotation in this house and never failed.  In fact, I still have to use the swaddle and the white noise (shushing) to help Max fall asleep for naps.

I kept asking my friends who went through this right before me (and therefore had a clearer memory of how rough the first few months are) if it would really get better.  They kept assuring me that at 3 months there would be a vast improvement.  I didn't entirely believe them - what if I just have an angry/fussy kid who never changes?  What if Max is just miserable forever?  But it has gotten exponentially better and we're not at 3 months yet.  Some mornings Max is grumpy because he has gas, but most mornings he greets me with a big smile.  He's starting to giggle when I sing goofy songs to him.  He still cries on walks, and in the car, and in the bath.  But he has a wider range of cries now, and sometimes a day passes and he hasn't had a true Angry Whopper cry.

So there you have it.  The first couple of months were rough.  It's getting better.  I don't freak out anymore when Max cries, partially because I'm used to it and partially because his cries don't usually reach that fever pitch anymore and partially because he's usually crying for a reason now.  Now if I could just get him to really enjoy our walks, I'd be made in the shade.


  1. So happy to see this update...he is soo cute even if he's an angry whopper! My nephew, who is now 18 months, was just miserable from birth until about 16 weeks. My sister was at her wits end with him....and now he's a sweet, charming, funny, wonderful little 1.5 year old. Hope this continues to improve and pass quickly so you can get to the more enjoyable parts!

  2. First of all, that is the cutest nickname ever! I totally feel you on the first 6 weeks or so, I actually felt the same. The newborn stage is so hard, you feel like this little person doesn't even like you at all and honestly you find it hard to like them too! Thank goodness that passes!

  3. HAHAHA HE'S SO MAD!! I shouldn't laugh but it cracks me up and I can't help it. That face!! But yeah, poor babies. They've never been hungry or cold or sleepy or gassy and then POOF. COLD HARD WORLD. It's gotta suck. That's why they're so cute. So we don't give them away to the first stranger who asks.

    I'm glad you're seeing light :)