The author of Knocked Up: Confessions of a Modern Mother-to-be is now chronicling the first two years of motherhood. At this point in her book, Eckler has hired a nanny, a situation she finds awkward since she’s also in the condo all day, and no less lonely. Luckily, the “Liancé,” busy doing “multi-billion-dollar” deals at his office, is only a phone call away.
0 to 3 months. Sometime, somewhere, some year. 8:40 a.m.
Nanny Mimi races out of the kitchen to go fetch the baby. I finish my cereal and call the Fiancé, who picks up immediately.
“Hi, it’s me,” I say.
“You never said goodbye this morning,” I moan.
“You were sleeping. I didn’t want to wake you.”
“Oh. How are you feeling?” I ask.
“Me too. I have two black eyes from walking into the wall. Fm still not sure how that happened.”
“Fm going to get fired if I don’t get any work done. Fm making major mistakes on multi-billion-dollar deals here,” the Fiancé responds, as if we are in a competition to see whose problems are worse.
“My eyes hurt they’re so tired,” I tell him. “And I have two black eyes!”
“I don’t even remember getting to work today,” he continues.
“So how is the Devil Child?”
“Hey, thanks for asking about me, dude,”
“She’s just getting up now,” I tell him. It kind of annoys me that he calls the baby “the Devil Child.” I mean, sure, she is a Devil Child and I sometimes call her the Devil Child, but Fm her mother. I can call her whatever I want.
“Okay, so I guess I’ll call you later?” says the Fiancé. He sounds exhausted, as if the very effort of forming a sentence feels like running a marathon.
“Okay, bye,” I say. Obviously, the Fiancé isn’t in any mood to give me sympathy. But that’s okay. Fm not in the mood to give him any either. We’re in this baby thing together, aren’t we? Except why do I feel like Fm in it more?
1 p.m. the same day
“Hi!” I say, calling the Fiancé at his office.
“So, when are you coming home?” I ask, trying to sound like I don’t really care. The thing is, I do care. I really want to know when he’s coming home.
“Beck, it’s one o’clock.”
“I know. So when are you coming home?”
“I’ll be home when I get home,” he snaps.
“So, like around five?”
“Fine! Bye!” I say, hanging up. This conversation—rather, me asking the Fiancé, “When are you coming home?”—has become a daily ritual. Along with asking, “Am I getting skinnier?” I can’t help but call the Fiancé a half-dozen times a day, asking when he’ll be home. Fm bored. It’s ‘My not even that I miss him. It’s they’re just that I want someone I tell around, someone I can complain to, someone who under‘So how stands that this is hard. Why Devil am I feeling this way when there’s actually a new person ‘Hey, in my life who is supposed asking to bring me nothing but joy? dude,’ Do other new mothers call their husbands at work, at 10 a.m., asking when they’re going to be home? Or is it just me? At least today I waited until after lunch to ask. Last week I asked when he thought he’d be coming home... before he even left the house.
“So, when are you coming home?” I ask the Fiancé.
“Like how soon?”
“Okay, it’s just that the baby seems to have a really bad cold and I don’t know what to do. Fm kind of freaking out here. I really think she’s really sick.” It’s five o’clock on Friday.
“Well, didn’t the nurse who came to our condo give you an emergency number to call if you had any health questions?”
“Right. Do you know where that is?”
“I think it’s in the kitchen somewhere.”
“Okay, see you soon,” I say, hanging up. I can’t stand watching my poor baby. She’s so congested that she can barely breathe. It breaks my heart to hear her cry because I know she doesn’t understand she just has a cold. Luckily, I find the 1-800 number that is still in the folder the nurse gave us, full of baby information we had never bothered to read. I dial the number.
“Hi, I have a question about my baby,” I say when a woman answers the phone.
“Okay. Have you ever called here before?” she asks.
“Okay, first I just have to ask you a few questions,” she says. After what seems like 20 minutes of inane questions, like what’s my phone number and where do I live and when did I give birth and do I breastfeed, and after biting my tongue to stop myself from screaming at her, “My baby is in trouble! Can’t this wait?” the person on the other end finally asks the reason Fm calling.
“My baby has a really bad cold, and I don’t know if she can breathe properly,” I say. My voice is wobbly. I might cry.
“Is the area around her mouth purple?” she asks. I look at my baby’s mouth. I don’t see any purple. “No, I don’t think so.” “Okay, what I want you to do is undress her and take a look right under her rib cage, as she breathes,” she says.
“Okay, hold on,” I say as I unbutton her sleeper and unsnap her onesie.
“Fm looking,” I tell her.
“Does her breathing seem laboured?”
“Yes,” I say; when she tries to breathe in, her rib cage rises slowly.
“Well, she could be in distress. I’d suggest you go to the closest emergency room,” the woman says. Distress? My baby is in distress?
“Okay, I’m going to go right now,” I say, and hang up. I call the Fiancé on his cellphone.
“I just called that number and the woman said she could be in distress and we should get to the nearest emergency room,” I say. I’m hysterical now, and in tears.
“Okay, I’m just pulling up to our building now. I’ll meet you out front. But traffic is really heavy. It’s rush hour. Should we wait a while before going?” the Fiancé asks.
“The baby could be in distress!” I yell at him, and hang up. What the f-k is he thinking wanting to know if we should wait until traffic lessens?
Why isn’t he concerned?
MY BABY IS IN DISTRESS! I’m
running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Bottle. Diapers. Health card. F-k. F-k. F-K! We’re in the car, stuck in rushhour traffic.
“I can’t stand this!” I cry.
The baby is screaming and snorting in the back seat, and I feel a migraine coming on.
“I can’t go any faster. I’m going as fast as I can!” the Fiancé says.
“I know,” I snap. “You said that already.”
“Don’t snap at me,” he snaps back, and I start to cry.
“Don’t talk to me like that! Why are you doing this now?” I cry out. “Don’t be such an asshole now. I’m worried. Can’t you understand that?”
“I’m going as fast as I can,” he says, hitting the steering wheel. Finally we arrive, and he drops me off in front of the emergency room entrance. I race inside while he finds a place to park. I’m still in a line in the emergency room waiting to check in when the Fiancé races in. He does look worried. I can’t believe there’s such a line. I’m practically shaking. I hand the baby, who’s in the car seat, to the Fiancé and walk to the head of the line. I don’t wait in line at clubs, and I definitely don’t want to wait in line here.
“Well, I have this bad cough and I’ve had it for a couple of weeks now, but I didn’t have time to see my doctor during the week,” someone is saying. I can’t believe this. Some dude who’s had a cough for two weeks decides to go to the emergency room? Doesn’t he know that there are actual emergencies? LIKE MY BABY, WHO IS IN DISTRESS?
“Excuse me,” I interrupt. I know there’s a fine line between bitchiness and persistence, especially in a hospital where everyone is so overworked, but this is my baby we’re talking about. The guy with the cough is lucky I don’t punch him.
“I have an eight-week-old baby who’s not breathing properly,” I say in a loud voice. The three people in front of me shoot me a dirty look.
“F-k you all,” I think. It works. Immediately a nurse takes my baby to the back room to take her temperature. She doesn’t seem worried. What is wrong with everybody? I
was told MY BABY COULD BE IN DISTRESS!
“Well, she doesn’t have a temperature, which is good,” the nurse says. In fact, the baby is now sleeping soundly. (It’s like when you desperately need a haircut, but the day of your appointment you wake up and your hair looks fabulous. Although this is way more serious.)
“I swear, she couldn’t breathe like 10 minutes ago! I called a 1-800 number and the woman told me we should come directly here,” I explain.
“Oh, we hate those 1-800 numbers. You can’t make a good diagnosis over the phone, and they just tell everyone to come here. Just wait over there in the waiting area, and a doctor will see you shortly,” she says. The Fiancé and I take seats. I can’t help but look at all the other sick people in the waiting room, wondering what their ailments are. What kind of germs is my baby going to catch while we wait?
“I don’t know, maybe we should just go,” I say to the Fiancé after we’ve waited about half an hour.
“I don’t want her to catch anything worse than she already has.” Just then, we’re called in. A doctor checks out the baby and hands us a blue suction thing.
“She just has a bad cold. Every parent of a newborn should have one of these. First you put saline drops, which you can buy at any drugstore, in her nostrils, then stick this up each nostril and it will suck out all the phlegm,” he says, demonstrating. I have never seen one of these things before.
“Colds for babies can last anywhere from a month to six weeks,” the doctor tells us. Six weeks!
“Thank you,” I say to the doctor. “Thank you so much. I was so worried. They did tell me she could be in distress.”
“Well, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. You did the right thing coming here,” he says, and I kind of feel like kissing him because I’m so relieved nothing is wrong with my baby. Back at home, I feel like I’ve been through a war. The baby starts crying, and her nose, once again, is clogged. We stopped on the way home to buy the saline drops.
when coming I ask.
So when coming
“You do it,” I tell the Fiancé, handing him the suction thing that we’re supposed to stick up the baby’s nostrils, which are smaller than chocolate chips.
“No, you do it,” he says.
“I can’t! You do it!”
“Fine. But you have to help,” he says. I hold the baby’s arms down, while turning my head and looking away. She’s not happy, and I can’t stand to listen to her screams and see her flailing her arms.
“I’m like a doctor,” says the Fiancé proudly when he sucks out the boogers and the baby can breathe much better again.
“And you are never to call that 1-800 number again. Ever!”
“She told me the baby was in distress,” I say quietly. “And the doctor said it was better to be safe than sorry.”
“I know. I know,” he says, wrapping his arms around me. I cry again, tears of exhaustion and tears of relief. I don’t ever want to feel that worried again. How do mothers deal with the worry?
21 to 24 months, October 16, 7 p.m.
“You have to come home right now,” I tell the Fiancé, calling him on his cell.
“I was just leaving,” he says.
“And you have to buy diapers,” I tell him.
“What? I just bought a jumbo box last week,” he says. “We couldn’t possibly have used them all up. There were, like, 120 of them in that box.”
“I know. But we used up all the ones with the picture of Elmo on the front,” I say.
“So? So? Well, she’ll only wear the ones with Elmo on them. Just stop at the drugstore and buy some, will you?”
“What do you mean, she just wants the Elmo ones?”
“Just get Elmo ones, trust me . . . Hello? Hello?” I think the Fiancé hung up on me.
I speed-dial the Fiancé back.
“What now? Does the Dictator want special wipes? Does the Dictator want a private jet? Does the Dictator want a canary diamond?”
“No, I was just wondering if you remembered to buy a new DVD player. Remember? She threw it on the floor? Hello? Hello?” M
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