In many ways, video baby monitors are a godsend. Parents can see if their child is standing or lying down before they intervene and track sleep patterns. Monitors also provide a sense of security and peace of mind that actually help parents sleep better. These technological marvels are a far cry from the intercom system that allowed my sister and I to destroy our childhood bedroom uninterrupted. However, it's not a silver bullet, mostly because you're probably going to see some weird stuff on that screen. I've witnessed quite a few strange things while staring at my baby monitor.
Initially, I didn't want a video monitor. After all, they're pretty expensive and I thought we could do just fine with audio only. However, my husband insisted that we "go big or go home." I relented, and then I never looked back. I don't think I could have sleep trained our baby girl without it. The cry it out method is not for the faint of heart, but it was easier for me when I could see that she was OK. If something was really wrong, like when she got her chubby little leg stuck in the slats, I could rush in and save the day.
I love my video monitor, and I take it anywhere we go if we're planning to stay overnight. That also means that I've spent some serious quality time with that digital beauty, and believe me, I have seen things.
Want to freak a new mom the f*ck out? Make her think the baby she just placed in the crib isn't actually there. My monitor does this thing where it freezes on the last image it caught when you turn it off (like after I've taken my daughter out of the crib). So when you turn it back on, you can get several seconds of an empty crib where your baby should be. Even though I know what's going on, I panic every damn time.
The Magically Appearing Baby
Thanks to the above glitch, after a few moments, the image of your child will appear suddenly on the screen. If I've learned anything from horror movies, it's this:
1) A flickering image on a screen is always a bad sign.
2) As the Asian sidekick, I will most certainly perish.
The Blair Witch
I mean, I didn't see her. You never see her. However, I did see my child sitting and facing the corner of her crib. I mean, obviously, the Blair Witch was making her turn away while she came after me. That or my daughter was pooping. Either way, it's the stuff of nightmares.
A Glowing Orb
Apparently, I'm not the only one who has seen a swirling ball of light on the monitor screen. Maybe it's dust particles. Maybe it's a trick of light. Maybe it's my beloved Buttercup watching over my baby girl from kitty heaven, like the big old creeper she was in life.
A Different Kid
If you stare at the screen long enough, you can convince yourself that it's not your kid in there. The infrared night vision distorts the colors (dark clothes will appear light), which is confusing in the middle of the night when you know you put your kid in red pajamas.
I find the changeling superstition (where the baby is stolen and replaced by a fairy) freaking terrifying.
An Extra Limb
My few attempts at co-sleeping have already convinced me that my child is actually a starfish, so the possibility that she's grown another appendage during the course of her nap seems like a real possibility. She sleeps in some pretty unusual positions (like those mindf*ck photos where you can't figure out whose leg belongs to who). Now that she's old enough to sleep with a stuffed animal, I've definitely mistaken Floppy the Bunny for a third leg.
A Master Yogini
In order to fall asleep, my daughter has to do approximately five downward-facing dogs while chanting a mantra, "Mommy, Dada, doggie, meow." She's frustratingly more flexible than I am. In her forward fold, she gets her head on the mattress. I'm still waiting for the day when she somersaults out of it, but my careful observation has thus far been in vain.
The Children Of The Corn
OK, maybe not children of the corn. Just one child of the corn. A kernel, if you will. Glowing eyes, courtesy of night vision, make your kid look seriously demonic. Twinkle twinkle, little NOPE.
Vomit Or Poop
Sometimes, your baby's lovey or the pattern on the sheet play games with your mind and make you think there's been a blowout from one end or the other. Other times, you'll actually be looking at vomit or poop. My husband once entered the nursery to investigate a brown spot on the sheet, only to discover that our darling daughter had pooped, stuck her hands down her diaper, and proceeded to fling it about like a monkey.
Creepy shadow passing across the screen? Baby staring fixedly at something in the room? Could be nothing. Could be your own personal Ghosty McGhosterson.
As a mom, you're permanently exhausted, so chances are all this is in your head. Then again, stranger things have happened.