Every Child is Different

"Every child is different," they say.

After getting over the initial shock of pregnancy and birth mid-quarter during grad school, I assumed it would be easy. Anthony was a piece of cake. He was what they call an easy baby, a good baby. You know, the ubiquitous they of grocery stores and Target check out lines. I constantly received comments about how well-behaved he was and what a good mom I was. Every time, I felt like I was leveling up in parenting. I was breastfeeding, cloth diapering, eating and feeding organic. We wore in in the moby and ergo and made sure to apply benzo-free sunscreen. Why not? Anthony thrived. His first words were "What is that?" and he is inquisitive, funny, and fantastic.

about fifteen minutes before Vince was born

He made my pregnancy with Vincent more manageable. Through the nausea and vomiting, the sciatica and trouble walking, Anthony was pleasant. He would bring me water when I was curled up in a ball on the couch. He thought it was hilarious when I barfed. He named all his toys Vincent, and talked about his little brother constantly. He was even there when Vincent was born, watching with anticipation while his brother made his journey into the world.

And Vincent. Those of you who follow me on social media might know him as the Curmudgeon. While he didn't struggle with his latch like Anthony, he didn't like to nurse. He nursed, but only out of necessity. He wouldn't nurse to sleep or for comfort. He would eat, then cry, then sleep--not always in that order. He arched his back in pain and wailed. I took him to the chiropractor when he was twelve days old. He was adjusted, and I limited my diet to a sort of egg-free paleo in hopes that it was something in my breastmilk. You know it's bad when you have hope in a crazy diet. It got a little better, then worse. I finally conceded to the pacifier when he was about four weeks. He took it.


Unless he was being worn, he was miserable. Making dinner was a nightmare. Going to the bathroom was a nightmare. Eating a meal was a nightmare. He just cried and cried and I felt helpless. He didn't want the boob, he didn't want to just be held, he didn't want anything. If I walked around long enough with him in a woven wrap he would eventually sleep. When family members held him--if family members held him--it was for a minute or less. He was the opposite of my chubby, happy Anthony at this stage. I wasn't writing. I wasn't reading. Mostly, I was trying to comfort a 'mudging curmudgeon and not lose my mind.

this was constant

And they. What would they say? My kids were in disposables. Anthony was eating a steady diet of squeezable applesauce. Vincent was gnawing angrily at a pacifier instead of comfort nursing. Can you level down? I missed the lazy days of snuggling Anthony on the couch and reading a book or power watching Doctor Who. Vincent was not a "good" baby. But to say he was "bad" would be awful. There is no such thing as a bad baby. He was difficult. He was different. The ubiquitous they of check out lines and public outings would chime that. Every child is different.

There it was, that moment of clarity. As if on cue, Vincent fell into a routine. He started smiling at five weeks. At six weeks, he stopped his back-arching screaming. He would eat and self soothe into a nap or happily suckle on the wubbanub. I still wore him constantly, but without the desperation and extra five-thousand steps a day. I turned in my papers for grad school and went to residency, where Vincent was a good baby, an easy baby. He was perfect, the quintessential newborn. I was shocked and happy. More importantly, Vincent was happy. Vincent is happy.

Don't get me wrong, we still have miscommunications. Sometimes I offer the boob when he wants the pacifier. Sometimes I don't wrap him as soon as he'd like when he's tired. Occasionally I make a loud and upsetting noise. But that's okay. We're just getting to know each other, after all.

Add caption
Every parenting experience needs to be treated individually. We learn and we grow. They do, too. If we give our children the chance to simply be, without the expectations of older siblings or friend's children or internet strangers or they, we will be that much happier. I know I am.


  1. Kirsten OliphantJuly 2, 2014 at 7:59 PM

    I am so glad that he's happier now! And sorry for those hard weeks. Loved reading this. And it reminded me of a conversation I had recently with lincoln. We are always telling our kids that God made everyone different when they say they don't like someone's clothes or hair or don't understand someone's actions. Recently I almost had two head-on collisions in five minutes with Lincoln in the car (neither my fault--other people texting). I said, "Man, what is WRONG with all these bad drivers?" and Lincoln said: "God made everyone different." :)

  2. I am fully expecting this baby on the way to be completely different than her big sister was! The pregnancy is pretty much the exact opposite. My firstborn was a difficult baby for the first 3 weeks or so. She cried every single night for 3-5 hours straight, and NOTHING we tried soothed her! So maybe this next one will be happier...! ( : Both your boys are adorable!