Greetings, Gentle-Parents, and welcome to “Newborn Week” on EOTS. We know a lot of people who have or are about to have newborns in their lives, and consider it our moral responsibility to share with you some of the ridiculous things we did when we had newborns of our own. Listen, it’s not as gory as Shark Week, but one time Sam was so sleep deprived, she thought she saw E.T. dart behind the sofa, so there’s that.
The Tropic of Sam
It was our first baby. I don’t know where we read this, (and in retrospect we probably didn’t, because no one would have ever written this) but we thought babies had to be kept at exceptionally high temperatures. As in, if the temperature in your apartment dropped below, say, the temperature at the Equator, terrible things would happen. All those stores we passed through which sold such things as baby sweaters’ and baby pants’ were laughable to us. Why dress a baby in clothes when you can simply jack up your thermostat and cause rolling blackouts all up and down the Eastern Seaboard due to the giant power-suck originating from your boxy two bedroom in Chelsea?
Am I being clear? The baby was born in January, and from January to April, our apartment was at least 86 degrees at all times. No one could wear clothes. The baby was constantly sweaty. When we came in from outside, our clothes and hair steamed in the heat. It was like the rainforest in our apartment; we could have moved in a family of Toucans, no problem, and some orchids, and a whole bunch of half-naked pygmies. Basically, our baby had never spent time in an incubator until the day she left the hospital and moved in with us.
And we loved our baby hard; so hard, that no one was allowed to even suggest that we ease up a little on the sweltering heat. They may as well have insisted that we take her out for some fresh air by punting her out an open window; it was simply not going to happen—in the delirium of living in a sauna, our parenting made sense to us, and us alone.
When all the menopausal grandmothers came to visit, they could only tolerate our home for short bursts of time, which was difficult for them. My stepmother had to wear Bjorn Borg style athletic sweatbands around her head and wrists to prevent buckets of human sweat from pouring all over the baby during her constant hot flashing. After spending twenty minutes in our apartment the grandmothers looked like a trio of colorful melted birthday candles.
In most of the photos from that time all of the adults in the picture are passed out like a bunch of flaccid chicken pieces under a heat lamp, lying draped across furniture with the baby nearby, staring into the camera from her bouncy seat and saying with her expression, “I fear that my parents might be ill equipped for this journey.”
We eventually learned to regulate the temperature in our apartment and by the third child had to remind ourselves to equip her with boots when leaving the apartment in winter. My husband and I try and convince ourselves that our issues with temperature fluctuation have prepared our children for a life in Manhattan. We know we’re lying to ourselves but who cares.