As a city kid, I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep on our summer vacations in the mountains. It was too quiet. I missed the security sound blanket of the elevated trains, garbage trucks, and sirens. I could rest easily knowing the world was still in motion outside when I went to bed.
Cut to: 25 years later with my newborn. I immediately flipped my view on noise and focused on re-creating a womb-like atmosphere in our Queens apartment. It was to be quiet at all costs so my daughter could sleep, because sleep was the most important factor to her well-being (and mine). It was then when I realized how loud everything was. The tiniest sounds I had never paid attention to before became major threats to the silent environment we were trying to maintain. I even thought white noise machines were the enemy.
By the time I had my second kid, I learned that being able to sleep through noise is a skill we should want for our children (yes, I learned this after I went crazy trying to muffle my firstborn’s world). I was afraid I was breathing too loudly during midnight feeding sessions. Helpless against the city sounds, I focused on shushing anything else that made a peep. The truth is, you never realize how loud every goddamn little thing is until those little things are threatening to wake up your sleeping baby, who, I should add, you basically moved the earth to get to sleep in the first place.
My husband and I watched TV with the closed captioning for the first year of our daughter’s life. We also viewed a lot of foreign films, since we could shut the sound off and just read the subtitles. We are still catching up on action movies released in 2008.
Our apartment building is almost 90 years old. The floorboards creak and crunch in spots. I learned to navigate around the trouble areas and would direct foot traffic of our guests if they came to visit our sleeping infant. “Don’t step there!” “No, walk around that spot.” “Wait, just, stay there, I’ll come to you.” No one appreciated my insane game of Red Light, Green Light.
The Shower Door
F*ck it. I'll stay dirty.
We shut the answering machine off, silenced our alerts, turned our ringers to vibrate and moved every device as far from my daughter’s room as possible. We were very hard to reach that year.
We disabled the sounds on the microwave, but I swear that only made the hum of its motor louder when it was being used. And forget making toast; the clang of the spring shooting the bread up was enough to wake the dead. Let's just say lot of our meals were consumed at room temperature.
Forget foil, plastic, or cardboard wrapping. If I didn’t pre-open the package of pasta before my daughter went down for a nap, we didn’t eat.
Nothing is funny if it means waking my kid up from the nap I spent an hour getting her to take.
This one hurt. I had given up caffeine because I was nursing, but I still clung to the ritual of my — now decaf — cup of coffee. I learned to hover over the stove when trying to boil water, to catch the kettle before it whistled. If I took the whistler off the kettle, I would forget I had the burner on, and it would boil over. I just couldn’t win with this one.
We rarely had the need to print things out, but it when we did, it uncannily synched up to the times when my daughter was napping.