We had our children too early. We should have waited until now, when it is fashionable to hire "night nurses."
A night nurse comes into the home from 9 or 10 at night until 6 in the morning to tend to the baby so that the parents can, well, sleep like babies.
My brother-in-law is questioning this idea, even suggesting to one such couple who hired a night nurse that parenthood, like marriage, should involve some suffering and deprivation in order to be real.
This brother-in-law has also warned me that if I quote his thoughts on this trend, I am not to cast aspersions on him as one of those dads who never got up in the middle of the night with the baby. By his own admission, he got up frequently to bring the baby to his wife and say, "Here, he needs something." Just kidding.
Night nurses for babies stay in the baby's room, feed the baby, burp the baby and settle the baby back down. A night nurse does what a Mom and Dad used to do, but now Mom and Dad are paying something in the neighborhood of $250 to $300 a night for the privilege of sleeping soundly a few feet down the hall.
A night nurse could offer a wonderful reprieve for couples with multiples, a sick baby, or special circumstances, but, for the most part, these are healthy couples (one or both parents home on maternity leave) with healthy babies that the parents would simply rather not see or hear during the course of the night.
I always thought the primary reason we have babies is so that they can interrupt our sleep and help us discover what we are made of. Babies are the ultimate test of adaptability and stamina.
The fatigue, the exhaustion, the dark circles under the eyes, the near-trancelike state that overcomes you at 4 in the afternoon, have long been the badges of honor worn by new parents. The shirt on inside out, the socks don't match, and the jacket that smells like baby wipes are precisely the ways we identify newcomers to the world of parenting. And now we want to pay someone else to have those joys.
I suppose we are also willing to forego those loving moments a new baby generates between a mom and dad.
"I hear the baby. You awake?" No answer. "I know you're awake."
Or, "I'll get him."
"No, I'll get him."
"No, I'll go."
"No, I'll go."
The banter goes on and soon the baby stops crying and returns to sleep.
What a shame to miss all the magic that happens in the night. There is nothing like an fussy baby that throws up and soaks you all down your front. You realize that this small hapless creature is totally and completely dependent on you and it is one of the most wonderful feelings in the entire world.
And then there is the satisfaction of quieting a crying baby. The baby begins to calm, snug against your chest, delicate face burrowed deep into your neck, heaving those last little sobs as she settles down and drifts peacefully back to sleep.
Those 2 a.m. encounters become the times you one day look back on with pride and satisfaction. They are the times that teach you that you do indeed have what it takes to make it as a parent and that a little concealer does wonders for dark circles beneath the eyes.