Saturday, September 17, 2011

Loud and Clear

After Claire was born, I apologized to the woman in the hospital room with me because Claire was so loud. Her baby cried in this soft whimper, while Claire rocked the house. Not much sleep was happening anyway with two breastfeeding newborns, but Claire made sure that we were all having an impromptu slumber party. The woman was kind enough to say that my baby had good lungs. She went so far as to say she was jealous. I don’t think I would have been so generous if the situation had been reversed.

At our baby class last week, another baby Claire’s age started crying in a similar whisper of a voice. Like the other baby’s cry, I found it to be such a sweet sound that I was almost lulled by it. Her mother, on the other hand, became instantly distressed. It was hard to imagine that sound being such a call to action, but all moms respond to their own baby’s cry, right?

I talked about whether there’s an evolutionary advantage to loud crying in Bush Babies and Birthdays. I started thinking about it again after this baby class. It’s true that when Claire really gets going, George and I act with efficiency to stop her crying. There’s no time to admire our little darling or work at a leisurely pace. Getting her to stop has an urgency about it that I can’t imagine any soft whining would elicit. On the other hand, although a loud cry and a soft cry probably mean the same thing in baby language, I can’t help but take Claire’s personally sometimes. I’m sure she’s raging mad at me for something I’ve done or haven’t done, instead of expressing a need to be met. There are times when I definitely have to do my best Zen breathing not to enter the fray with her. And times that I just want to put her down and walk away. At these moments, a sweet, soft sound would serve us all better.

But so would a more patient mother. Certainly, moms contribute to evolutionary advantage (or disadvantage) too. It all seems too complex to figure out anyway. At the end of the day, Claire will continue to work on her Opera skills. And I will continue to work on my patience.

1 comment:

  1. One of my baby books informs parents not to take the crying personally - it doesn't mean they are mad at you or you've hurt their feelings or that they are sad. They are just expressing some biological need or feeling. Easy to read in a book. Seems like it would be a bit harder to just let it roll off your back in real life.


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