Life Lessons from a Fussy Baby

posted by Andrea | 05/9/2012

I don’t think it’s a big secret that Nora has been quite a challenge for us these first few months!

Despite our best and most diligent efforts to get her on any type of schedule or routine… she just won’t have it. Every day is completely different. Some days, she’s a little angel; other days, she screams for hours at a time.

Things are definitely getting better now that she’s almost 6 months old (yeah I know, she’s getting so big!) and looking back, it seems I might be learning more from my fussy babe than I thought…

Empathy

Before we had Nora, I was often judgmental of other parents when I saw their kids throwing temper tantrums in restaurants, grocery stores, church, etc. After all, why can’t they “get their kids under control” and “stop their baby from crying”; it can’t be THAT hard, can it?

Now I know better!

And while we personally try not to bring Nora to places where she could disturb other people, there have been a couple times when she started crying (loudly) in the grocery store… and I couldn’t do anything about it. She had just eaten, had her diaper changed, and she snoozed in her carseat as we shopped… so I had no idea how to stop her crying. There was nothing I could do.

I’m guessing many of you are nodding your heads right now thinking, been-there, done-that.

Patience

OK, so I’m still working on this one… but I honestly feel like I have much more patience NOW than I did 6 months ago.

There have been days when she cries and fusses all afternoon, but I can deal with it, put on a happy face, and have dinner ready when Dave and Sarah get home from school.

And when she wakes up (multiple times) in the middle of the night, I’m still so tired… but I don’t have the incredible amount of anxiety I had in those first few months. I know I’ll be able to get her back to sleep eventually.

Aren’t you so proud of me :)

Flexibility

Since Nora refuses to get on any sort of schedule, we’ve just started to go with the flow — and believe-it-or-not, I’m actually getting pretty good at it!

We never know when she will decide to fall asleep at night (some nights she’s sound asleep by 7:30, other night’s she’s wide awake until 11:30 or midnight). We used to sit around at night with the lights and TV off, trying to rock her to sleep. But since that doesn’t work, we’ve started living again and are actually doing things we want to do.

We’ll watch TV, go for a walk, do something with friends, etc.

Of course, we come home much earlier than we did before, and we still try to create a routine of bath, pajamas, eat, sleep… but we’re also more realistic and if we can tell that she’s wide awake, we don’t try to “force” her to fall asleep.

Just this past weekend, we took her to Dave’s school’s prom. We were only out until about 8:30, but we had so much fun… and the kids LOVED it! Plus, I think being around all those people tired her out.

Humility

Not only did I have NO idea what I was doing when I brought Nora home from the hospital, I was also not very accustomed to relying on other people for help.

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a DIY gal — and I’m pretty determined to figure things out “on my own”. After all, I learned how to do basic electrical work in an afternoon, I taught myself HTML coding in a week, and I managed to start my own business when I was 21… so a baby really couldn’t be THAT hard, right.

HA!

Dave and I are VERY thankful for our family and friends — for all the people who brought us meals and gave us gifts; for my parents who are ALWAYS finding the best deals on every baby item we could ever want; for Dave’s parents who have invited us over for more meals than I can count; for my sisters who have willingly stayed with Nora over night so I could actually sleep; and to both our families for their never-ending “free babysitting” offers…

Maybe I can’t always do it all :)

Sacrificial Love

Yes I love Dave, I love my family, and I love my friends —  but they don’t ask me to feed them every 2 hours, clean up their poop, and tend to their needs all hours of the night!

Obviously, I knew that sacrifices were a huge part of having a baby — but I don’t think I fully understood how many sacrifices I’d have to make.

A couple years ago, I remember telling my mom about how my friends wouldn’t eat when their food was hot because they HAD to feed their babies, and they couldn’t do what they really wanted to do because they HAD to take care of their children. She just smiled at me and said that once I was in that situation, I would WANT to do those things… she was right.

And seriously, how could you NOT love that smile! 

So it seems I’m learning a bit more than how to properly install a carseat, set up a pack n’ play, change a “blow out diaper”, and get out the door on time…

Thanks for being such a good teacher Nora :)

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25 comments

  1. Jen

    05/09/2012

    This made me smile. It really is amazing what they can teach us, just by being in our lives. I agree with you—I am far more patient now than I was before I had children, because I HAD to be. Not having patience was no longer an option. Not that I never lose that patience or get snappier than I should, ’cause I totally do, but there’s a sense of necessity to trying harder to remain calm now.

    Congratulations on the wonderful job you’re doing with your girl. She’s adorable and it’s really neat how you let us peek into your world as a mommy. Especially since the risk of any post related to parenting is that you’ll be inundated with opinions about what you’re doing and/or unsolicited advice. I hate that. lol

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  2. Amy

    05/09/2012

    I remember when I was fully pregnant, as I went to checkout at the grocery, the cashier (an older woman) said to me…”your teacher is almost here.” I thought that was such a cute way to put it.
    Boy was she ever right :)

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  3. Shiann

    05/09/2012

    I think I’ve had the conversation “I knew parenting would be hard, but I didn’t realize it would be THIS hard” about 4 times over the last several days. And yet my little guy runs to hug me when I get home…all better!

    Anyone who is as purposeful about this as you are trying to be is doing a better job than s/he worries. Your Nora is adorable.

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  4. Beth

    05/09/2012

    Great post! It’s amazing how much they can teach us, isn’t it? :) When I was pregnant with my second I was thinking I had it all figured out from my first – nope! The second one teaches me all new lessons every day! I guess I’m learning twice as much now! :)

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  5. Heart and Haven

    05/09/2012

    If you didn’t tell us, I would have NO idea that she was ever a fussy baby, lol. I mean, look at all those adorable pictures of a happy & content baby. She is such a doll.

    Just remember the lessons she’s teaching you…you’d hate to get a refresher course when she’s a toddler, or worse yet a teen! ha.

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  6. Bonnie

    05/09/2012

    I try to give other moms grace when they have fussy children in stores. You never know what their situation is. Some children have hidden disabilities too, like autism.

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    Amy Reply:

    Good point Bonnie. I need to try and remember that.

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  7. Leslie H

    05/09/2012

    Being a mom brought me to the end of what I thought I could handle…It was tough — but it changed my life because I had to re-evaluate my value system, my priorities, my goals. It was a great blessing…but it just seemed really hard at the time.

    You are doing great to recognize so many lessons after only 6 months! Good for you!

    The lessons and the blessings just keep coming…and perspective such as you have brings the best rewards.

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  8. Sarah

    05/09/2012

    Maybe Nora has colic or some kind of food allergy. My last two children cried for several hours a day every other day or so because of this. It took me a while to figure this out.

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  9. The Diaper Diaries

    05/09/2012

    I remember seeing you shortly after Nora was born and you were still trying to get her to get on a schedule and I said “God gave you this baby for a reason, she will “break you” just let her.” I am smiling so big as an “older, wiser” mom who has learned these lessons over and over. Each kid has new ones to teach you. And I know I have told you before but I love seeing this side of you on your blog.

    ps. Although I would swear I have make the cutest babies on the planet I gotta tell you, Nora is one freaking cute baby.

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  10. muriel

    05/09/2012

    I could definitey relate to this as my 5 month old has taught me a lot of the same things. I would also add that I’ve learned to be less of a perfectionist.

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  11. Natalie B

    05/09/2012

    Thanks for this! I needed to hear these things today. My 8 month old has broken 6 teeth, learned to crawl, started pulling himself up, and gone through a monumental growth spurt all in the last month! Did I mention that all that excitement comes with extreme fussiness? Some days I’ve just had it and today is that day. Daddy took him for a trip to Target to give me a break and I happened upon this post. So Yeah, thank you… :)

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  12. Natalie B

    05/09/2012

    One last thing… Don’t give up on the schedule thing! My saving grace with little guy is he is on a pretty darn good schedule. My oldest however was more like your Nora. Every kid is different. Even siblings. But I’m sure you’ve heard that AD NASEUM! Have a great day!

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  13. Sari

    05/09/2012

    Your Nora sounds so much like my oldest who is now almost a teenager and has 4 younger siblings!! He was such high maintenance, no schedule whatsoever, cried so much his aunts and uncles calld him ‘cryin’ Ryan, didn’t sleep consistently all night until around the age of 3, refused to be potty trained until then..and then I got pregnant again when he was only 7 months old and I cried, I thought I was never gonna survive. But it was the best thing for him, a playmate, someone to pick on other than Mom! He’s still outgoing, 200% boy, very athletic, gets good grades at school, and when he sets his mind to work, wow, the child can really work!! So, we’re trying to channel all that energy in the right direction! Nora will probably always be a very motivated person!
    And she is SOO adorable!!

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  14. Jenny C.

    05/09/2012

    Wow, I’d say you have gained a lot of wisdom in the last 6 months! You deserve to have a wonderful Mother’s Day! God bless you and your beautiful family.

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  15. Kathy

    05/09/2012

    Well your post put a smile on my face…as I’ve mentioned in previous comments the first baby turns your world upside down……….. once you are in that world the 2nd baby just comes along and fits in with the family. It is true…babies do have minds of their own and we all know (before kids) when someone says they can’t go out at 10am because their baby normally has a sleep at that time you think they are weird. Have your baby and like you say, you now “get it”. It is a huge change particularly when you are such an organized person (like myself) who thrives on structure and routines. But like you have discovered whilst it is hard to plan (you losely plan) your life has been enriched by this little person that you both made…now that’s the miracle of it all. When they smile at you and giggle and make funny noises the ironing or washing pile can wait – it’s not that important….Congrats on learning to adjust to the new role of motherhood. It’s an amazing journey. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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  16. Karla

    05/09/2012

    I was pretty much you and then I had 2 colicky babies 16 months apart. Yup. I’m pretty convinced that God did that on purpose. Glad he did because it’s made me a much better person. :)

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  17. Beulah

    05/09/2012

    Babies always look super cute while they bath! :) I am in love with that pic! :) thanks for sharing..

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  18. Emily

    05/10/2012

    I just want to say KUDOS to you for telling the world that its not all rainbows and butterflies and THATS OK! So many Moms today feel as if they have to be supermom and their kids always have to be clean and polished and quiet and precious and they have to be back to their pre baby weight in 2 weeks and a brand new happy family picture must be posted on their blog before the end of the first month. When they dont succeed at this (and most dont of course), they feel like failures and become depressed and even resentful towards their children/husbands. (Can you tell I’m a therapist? lol)
    If more women like you told the truth to other Moms there would be a lot more understanding and a lot less judging! Parenting is hard work!
    But of course the rewards are so worth it… :)

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  19. Debra Kapellakis

    05/10/2012

    aaaahhhhhhhhh, thank you for sharing the same story I went through with my three little ones, 20, 17 and 12

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  20. Suzanne

    05/10/2012

    I love this post! I had friends tell me, “Your life will never be the same,” and boy were they right! It is different in almost every way possible. I appreciate your ability and desire to post about your struggles as some of us feel we have to always keep things positive in our blogs (or at least I do) so people don’t really know our struggles, thinking maybe we aren’t the perfect mothers. I am always so happy to hear about parents who have the same challenges and struggles as it really helps keep things in perspective in my own life. Thank you!

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  21. Erika

    05/11/2012

    I think the Peace Corps stole their motto from moms across the world: “It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.” :) Definitely a life changer, but one that we all have to experience first hand!

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  22. Getting Enough Sleep | Skipper Clan

    03/15/2013

    [...] this is more difficult than others, especially with newborns. {Andrea has some great posts like this one} That is a relatively short season in the span of your entire life. Even then, I challenge you to [...]

  23. Prisha

    07/26/2013

    Can u pls tell me how u try to get her on schedule? I have a 5 wk old girl without any schedulr

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    Andrea Reply:

    Nora still isn’t on a great schedule and she’s 20 months old — definitely don’t worry about a 5 week old baby with no schedule! Baby’s aren’t supposed to have schedules yet — they just sleep and eat whenever they want. It can be SO frustrating for the mom (especially if you’re type-A like me) but from my own experience, it takes a long time to get babies on a schedule. Then, when you finally get them on a schedule, that schedule changes :)
    Try not to get too stressed or anxious about it — your baby is so young, she will eventually find more of a daily routine (even if it takes her almost 2 years like Nora!)

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