Dear Liz C.,
I’m often asked how life is different with two children. In particular, I’m asked what things I did differently on my second go-round and, honestly, I didn’t change that much. We were pretty laid back parents with Archer, even as an infant, and that remains true with Honor. We exist somewhere at the intersection of gentle and free-range parenting and it worked well with our first, so why change anything with our second?
That said, one thing that we’ve done differently this time that has absolutely made me a better, saner parent: we ditched the baby monitor.
It wasn’t a deliberate decision at first. We loved our Sony baby monitor with Archer. Good range, awesome battery life, and very little interference, but – because we’re in Germany – we couldn’t actually USE it here (different voltages and they ran wonky on our power transformers).
So, we kept saying that we would go snag a German monitor, but then we just… didn’t.
I moved Honor from the bassinet outside of our room into the Rock ‘n Play (and later, the Pack ‘n Play) next to my side of the bed so that I could hear her if she cried and found that this arrangement absolutely transformed me as a parent.
With Archer, I spent so much of the night staring at the monitor. Did he just make a sound? Is he waking up? Was that a sneeze or a cough? Is he getting sick? Did he just knock the last of his pacifiers onto the ground? Is he stuck between the crib rails? Was that static or some horrifying EVP ghost trying to communicate with me from beyond the grave? IS MY HOUSE HAUNTED? DO WE NEED TO MOVE TO ANOTHER STATE? OH MY GOD SOMEONE PLEASE SAVE ME I AM GOING TO BE EATEN BY GHOULS.*
With Honor, I’ve learned her sleep sounds and never have to wonder if she needs a pacifier, a cuddle, or a quick readjustment. I’m close enough that I can address her needs without really waking up at all. I can pop a pacifier back in without opening my eyes, pat her back without lifting my head from my pillow, and hum her a lullaby without so much as disturbing my own cozy blankies.
If she stirs, I know it. I’m never guessing the way I did with the baby monitor. And it’s awesome. I’m never losing sleep staring at the little lights on the white receiver.
We are to a point now that she is almost sleeping all the way through the night (though she often nurses around 4-5am and then goes back to sleep for a while), so we will be transitioning her into her own space soon. It’ll be bittersweet as I’ve enjoyed waking up with her nearby, but I’m so thankful for the realization that the monitor was doing more harm than good for my sanity and sleep schedule.
Will this arrangement work for everyone? Probably not. The real heart of it is understanding how you work, how your baby works, and how you can combine those things to achieve a better routine for you, your sanity, and your family. Even if, sometimes, it breaks with what you had envisioned in your head as the “right way” to do the whole parenting thing.
Smooches from Wiesbaden,
*My great fear of EVP, demons, and hauntings is also why I can’t have a video monitor because babies look fucking TERRIFYING on video monitors, okay?