I’m due to give birth in December and the one thing I don’t want is a baby video monitor. I can’t stand these things. They turn otherwise normal, fun people into neurotic, drooling messes, also known as new parents.
Case in point: I was visiting a friend the other week who’d given birth to her first child four months ago. We were sitting in her living room, so quiet and still and poorly lit, all that was missing was the dour ticking of a grandfather clock (the baby was napping, you see; any noise or light might awake her). I had to sit there and watch my friend and her husband stare enraptured at a grainy black and white image of a loaf of bread in a crib.
“Look, she’s breathing,” my friend said, like she’d just spotted a rare bird in the wild.
“And did you see that?” her husband pointed. “Her head twitched.”
“Hey, Jessie,” my friend said. “Last week she woke up in a different position than how we’d put her down”
“Fascinating,” I said. “Hey, do you guys have any hard liquor?”
I’m not even supposed to drink. But watching them fixate on the baby monitor made me feel a little uncomfortable, like I’d just stepped in on them speaking in baby talk or popping each other’s zits–creepy, private domestic rituals no one wants to see. Sounds terrible, but as I watched them ooh and aah over the immobile swaddle on the screen, I found myself wondering if I’ll be able to hang out with them anymore (or at least until their child turns 6). You know how new parenting makes some people super neurotic? The baby video monitor is the gateway device to that affliction, which leads to all sorts of other neurotic parenting behavior, like always sitting in the backseat with the child, or taping down the entire house with duct tape and foam. And I didn’t appreciate schlepping my butt over to their place to watch the equivalent of paint dry. It was all I could do not to ask, “What exactly are you guys looking for? Do you think she’s going to suddenly roll up and knit a shawl?”
But of course I didn’t say anything. I just sat there, pining for a whiskey and planning my exit strategy.
When June was a tiny baby asleep in her crib, I admit it–I could care less what she was doing. Why? Because she was asleep. I didn’t care if she twitched, cooed, moaned or flickered. I didn’t care if her arm raised 30 degrees or she turned her head a quarter inch to the left. I still don’t. You know why? Because she’s asleep. Nothing happens when a baby is asleep. Nothing is supposed to happen when a baby is asleep.
“But what about SIDs?” people scream.”Wouldn’t you want to know if your baby is dying?”
News flash: It’s not like a sleeping infant looks any different from a dead infant from the vantage of a fuzzy video monitor.
So if you’re expecting, do yourself a favor and don’t register for one of these crack-like devices. Invest in the old fashioned audio version or better yet, listen outside her bedroom door. Then prepare to be really bored.