Loose Ends
Kittery Point

Whatever's Happened to Baby Jane?

I've added a link to the weblog of my friend Diane Greco, whom I worked with at Eastgate. Mark Bernstein, who turned up at Readercon, told me about it. Diane, who had a baby named Jane in March, seems to be having a mothering experience very different than mine. From the sound of it, she has a fussy baby.

Baby makes scientists out of her parents. Daddy and Motherbody become skilled at making and testing hypotheses. Observe: Baby is crying. Hypothesize: Is she hot? Motherbody removes a blanket. Baby still cries. Try again: Maybe she's cold? Daddy folds blanket in half and tucks it around Baby, who kicks it off, crying all the while. Is she hungry? Wet? Bored? The tests go on and on. Eventually, the crying stops. A possible cause has been discovered; now the result must be re-tested (the scientists say "challenged," but they have never quieted a roaring baby and therefore do not know what challenge is). But Baby is changing all the time -- what stopped a fuss today might not work again tomorrow, or next week. Hypotheses proliferate until the parents despair, and then the hypotheses become untestable, absurd. Is she hungry? Tired? Wet? Bored? "Maybe a monkey flew out of her butt," says the Motherbody finally, giving up.

I woud offer advice, but it sounds like she's already had it up to here with well-meant parenting advice.

I'm weaning Jane. I've had enough of the lactivist bullshit, and I'm tired of wondering, every time she peeps, if I ate or drank something that passed through the milk and upset her. More to the point, I'm tired of having other people wonder for me. Out loud. In my presence.

Sounds like what she needs is comfort rather than advice. Feel better, Diane.

Elizabeth's a happy cooperative baby. Most of her serious fussing happens when she's bored. After a difficult first month with Peter, breastfeeding has always worked well for me. I wish it worked this well for everyone.