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The Thing I Obsessed About After Having a Baby

Baby on bed in sunlight
Photograph by Getty Images

When I was pregnant I worried about a lot of things like gaining too much weight, making sure I had the right diapers (for the baby!) and whether I'd stocked up enough on maternity leggings from Old Navy. And I hate to admit this, but I really worried that my daughter wouldn’t be funny.

The nerve! I know. But before you file me under “shallow mom” please know that being funny is like breathing to me. I love funny people, and I love making people laugh. Comedy is part of my profession and my dream. While I was pregnant, I often let my mind wander and think about what I would do if I had a kid that was *gasp* serious?

Then my daughter Channing was born and she was very, um, intense. Not exactly a crack up. Our mommy and me instructor described her disposition as having “big feelings,” which could not have been a more perfect name for it.

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Channing cried hot, powerful tears at the drop of a hat. She wasn’t a cuddlier and hated being swaddled. I remember thinking, "She just got here, how can she hate me already? That usually takes people awhile." Truthfully, I thought something was wrong with her.

I asked the pediatrician when I should expect to see her smile. I was worried that these initial big feelings she had would be indicative of her personality: humorless and dramatic. Her doctor didn’t reassure me when she said, “Oh she’s very serious. She’ll probably be a lawyer. Or President!”

She didn’t laugh, or giggle, or do all of the things I see babies do on TV in the diapers commercials.

For any other mom that would be the best news ever. But I kept thinking, "Yeah, but will she be funny?" Will she want to push boundaries and make people laugh, like her mama? What if she’s serious … forever? We’ll never bond over our mutual silliness.

She didn’t laugh, or giggle, or do all of the things I see babies do on TV in the diapers commercials. She would look at me with those deep, intense blue eyes as if she were sizing me up (She totally gets that from me.). Channing was very discerning in who she gave affection to. She still is.

I realize now that this all sounds ridiculous because, hello, she was a baby. I didn’t know that could change and how much. My experience with babies was very limited, so for all I knew I had just given birth to Gertrude Stein. Smart lady, but not known for cracking people up. (Unless I missed something?)

So when Channing came along, I had this unrealistic expectation that she would come out with a funny personality, full of winks and giggles for Mama.

As an only child from a very small family, and someone who didn’t have friends with kids, my experience with babies was basically non-existent. I think the last time I changed a diaper was when I was in high school, and I’m positive I didn’t do it right.

So when Channing came along, I had this unrealistic expectation that she would come out with a funny personality, full of winks and giggles for Mama. Comedy gene, check! But it quickly became clear that her personality was cranky. She was kind of a dick.

In those first few months, there were hints of smiles, but that could also have been gas, still not sure. Most of the time she just cried and drooled. Was I doomed to have a serious child? Gah! Well, I figured it could be worse. She could be blonde.

And then it happened. I’ll never forget one afternoon, when she was about 3 months old, I had propped her up between some pillows while I folded laundry. I was chatting to her, probably something about myself, and she giggled. The most glorious giggle in the world. I paused and looked at her in disbelief.

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Then she did it again. A hardy chuckle, not unlike my own laugh. I never wanted her to stop. So I spent the next hour doing everything I could to hear that sound again until she insisted on eating instead of entertaining me. The nerve!

Chan has the best laugh. She still does. At 3, she has a smart yet goofy and contagious sense of humor. There are lots of giggles going around our house these days. Her honest observations and witty comebacks sometimes make me do a double take: Wait, am I looking in a mirror?

I look back now and can’t believe I ever doubted this girl could be funny. I’m sure when I tell her about my fear one day she’ll just say, “Oh mom, you’re so silly.”

Same to you kid.

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