Some good friends came over last night with their two week old baby. It brought back memories.
First, it's a pleasure to hold a small infant who is sleeping or at least marginally content. My parental "bounce" walk is still in good shape, so I'm reasonably capable of utilizing contentment inertia to keep a baby in that state. Although newborns are fairly shriveled and ugly, there's something endearing about their inability to comprehend the world around them. At this age you still have to wrap them up like a burrito, preventing them from repeatedly and unintentionally smacking themselves in the face with their own arms. They look so surprised when it happens. "Who did that?!?! WAAAAAAAH!" Good stuff.
Second, when the baby started fussing and the parents were unable to figure out why, I recognized the strained undertones in their voices. It's the frustration of having to solve a puzzle while being too exhausted to even think. Meanwhile the puzzle only has one clue, which is the sound, "WAAAAAAAH!". Baffling, it is.
I recall those days, constantly going through my internal checklist of why-is-the-baby-crying reasons:
Needs to burp?
Too tightly wrapped?
Too loosely wrapped?
Once you've exhausted that list, your brain either freezes, or you just start making up weird reasons:
Baby is mocking me!
The terrorists have won!
Then you either jiggle the baby or feed the baby. That's what our friends did. They're fast learners.
Babies are hard.