The monitor was about to go off. It hadn’t erupted just yet, but as I lay in bed I knew it was only a matter of time. You can tell when a baby monitor is about to blow up because the baby makes a series of pre-cry sounds that clue you in. Little hacks and scratches and cries—
Oooooehhhhh,durrrrrr,ewwooohhhh. Through the static of the monitor, it sounds like a mouse caught in a glue trap.
I didn’t move a muscle. My strategy was twofold. For one thing, I thought to myself: If I just stay still, then the baby will forget I exist and realize she has no one to cry to, and then she will stop crying (NOTE: Babies do not fall for this). For another,
I thought if I lay still long enough, my wife would get up and go feed the baby instead of me. I was awake, but I didn’t want to be awake any longer. So I played dead. I tried to ignore the monitor and began thinking of purple unicorns and flying ninjas and any other random shit that would lead me to a dreamful slumber. Then I heard another oooooehhhhh and my brain zeroed right back in on the monitor. The child is waking. The child is hungry. My wife was lying next to me in bed. She was perfectly still, an expert in not giving herself away.
Our first kid was now two months old. Before she was born, we prepared a bassinet for her. It was the same bassinet my mother‑in‑law had used for my wife when she was a baby and their family lived in Munich. My wife labored over successive weekends to restore it, sanding it down and repainting it clean white. The main basket had come loose from its wheeled base, so I lovingly repaired it, drilling new holes and driving in shiny new screws to make the bassinet secure, so that the girl could sleep peacefully next to our bed for as long as she liked. It was beautiful. I imagined night after night of her sleeping next to us, one little happy family tucked inside the little master bedroom of our little home.
The first night we put her in it, she screamed bloody murder for hours. Turned out she loathed it. We threw her in a crib in the nursery next door a few days later, and the bassinet became worthless. Babies don’t give a shit how hard you worked on something. They’re the harshest critics on earth.
We made a rule that we would take turns every night feeding her. Someone got the first feeding. Then, once the baby was back asleep, that person went to sleep and the other person handled the child the next time she woke up. That was a fair way of going about things. But on this particular night, we had forgotten to agree on who was gonna get the first feeding. We both knew that whoever got the first feeding was boned because the parent working the first shift had to wake up around midnight, the time of night when deep sleep takes root. And then, that same parent might have to get up again for a third shift, around 4:00 or 5:00 a. m. I didn’t want the first shift. My wife didn’t want the first shift. Someone was gonna lose.
Reprinted from SOMEONE COULD GET HURT by Drew Magary by arrangement with Gotham Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Copyright (c) 2013.