Game-Changer: Baby Nurse

How a night nurse saved my marriage (and my sanity).

I’m writing this from a comfy hotel bed at The Bowery Hotel. I have the family dog at my feet, my husband has left for work, and I can say for the first time in four months, I woke up according to my body’s internal clock. Which is pretty incredible considering that my clock has been completely twisted and smashed since the birth of my second son in May.

My kids were at home last night with my night nurse, Clavia. I want to call her Clavia the Great and Powerful because she is just so great, and also because she pretty much singlehandedly saved my marriage.

This hotel thing was her idea. At four months, we decided that Baby G was ready to cry it out. Like most mothers, I am a fragile flower when it comes to hearing my baby cry. So Clavia urged my husband and I to get a hotel for a night or two while she stayed at our place and did the dirty work.

Of course, this hotel stay is only the tip of the Clavia the Great iceberg. She’s been staying with us every weekday night, getting up for every one of my baby’s whimpers while I sleep soundly.

This is worlds apart from the experience I had with my first baby. Flashback to three years ago, on the floor of my husband’s grandmother’s house in Queens, where we were staying while our apartment was under construction: My breasts are hooked up to the breast pump, my dog is biting my dirty pajama pants trying to get me to throw him the baby’s pacifier, which he has appropriated as his own new chew toy. My colicky son is in his bouncer crying hysterically, as he seems to always be doing. And so am I. Desperate cries, from exhaustion, sleep deprivation, and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.

With my first baby, I thought I could handle it all by myself, and besides, I thought, there would be family around to help. But “family” isn’t there at two in the morning when your colicky newborn falls asleep nursing, then pops his eyes open like one of those vintage baby dolls with the scary plastic eyelids the minute his body touches his mattress. Family likes to come over to “visit,” which means holding the baby while he sleeps. And family is usually off having a quiet dinner at their own homes while you and your husband are playing hot potato with your screaming, red-faced baby, trying to shovel in takeout and making passive aggressive comments about who had the harder day.

For months, I not-so-quietly resented my husband. He got to sleep at night, leave for work and have a sense of agency and independence for 8 hours every day. He wasn’t being drained of life from an infant suckling at his breasts every minute of the day. I hated my life. I strongly disliked my baby. I cried multiple times a day. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression. My husband and I were both so tired, we never did anything together at night besides rush through eating before I power-showered so I could climb into bed as soon as possible because I’d be getting up an hour later for the baby.

This time things were different, with Clavia at my side. Nights started with smiling and laughing, and included quality time with both of my children. There was dinner, wine and Netflix with my husband, and then there was sleeping. Sure, a little less of that–I probably lost an hour or two a night while nursing during those first few weeks. But not long after, I was able to sleep the whole night without pumping or nursing; Clavia fed the baby bottles of pumped milk and I slept straight through until my toddler’s 5am wakeup.

This time around, my husband and I actually enjoyed each other’s company during these first few months of our baby’s life. There was no resentment. And since Clavia was there already, we would go on little date nights during the week. Sometimes just to get ice cream at Ample Hills or to take the dog on a walk together. Or occasionally, like last night, to escape to a fancy hotel for drinks and dinner and a full night’s sleep.

These are Clavia’s last nights with us–it is time to cut the proverbial cord. Hopefully the baby will be sleeping through the night soon. Sleep training has been going pretty well, so far (reports Clavia).

I know it is unconventional to outsource dealing with the crappy parts of having a baby, and it is something not everyone is able to swing financially. Of course once in a while, I feel a little guilty for not having had to rough these stormy seas of early motherhood like almost everyone else I know. But I also know I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I am happier, I didn’t get postpartum depression this time, and my marriage is so much healthier because of it.

My postpartum memories this time around are filled with images of quiet nights at home together with my husband, and cuddle-filled mornings with our two sons. And also, delicious mornings like this one, with me alone in a sun-filled hotel room, cup of coffee and a dog beside me, and nothing but the rumble of traffic on the Bowery below to disturb me.

Image source.

Alexis Barad-Cutler

Alexis Barad-Cutler

ALEXIS BARAD-CUTLER is an Associate Editor and a frequent contributor to Well Rounded. A children's book author and essayist, she writes candidly and often humorously about the "stuff no one talks about in Mom Group" for sites such as Romper, Glamamom, Mommy Nearest, and other online outlets. You can read more of her work on website, or you can follow her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

Comments {7}

  1. Gross. Sad to know there are such selfish women out there. Probably why we have so many assholes in the world. Shame on you well rounded. Thought you were smarter than this. Peace out. That was my last glance at ya.

    Ashley
    1. Thanks for your comment and sorry you don’t agree with this particular mom’s point of view. We try to be an open community and cover all different types of pregnancy and motherhood experiences on Well Rounded NY, and we’re proud that Alexis shared her story with us.

      Jessica Pallay
  2. WOW. A Poorly written piece by a person I am very glad I do not know. In this case the babies are actually probably better off with the nurse than their mother… CIO at 4 months?! CIO at all? would love a followup article on the emotional health of teenagers whose parents ditched them/ let them cry it out

    J
  3. I bet her kids appreciate the fact that she is happy, daddy is happy and that she’s not suffering from ppd. If I could afford to do this I would…

    Denise
  4. Ashley: I think selfish is not asking for help and then taking it out on your kids and partner because you are too drained or depressed to face the day. I think this mom is brave enough to share that not only did she anticipate what a strain it was going to be on her family, she acknowledged it and actively worked to avoid it. Stories like this one are just a snippet of the life of this family. You cant say this woman is selfish and an asshole for doing what she felt was best for her family. You have no idea what each person in this family is experiencing on a moment to moment basis. Shame on you for bashing someone who is willing to share her struggles. I assume you are a woman and also a mother. You should know better.

    Karolina
  5. I guess I’m not surprised to see some people are aghast at this story, because I think there is an (unfortunately very pervasive) tendency to see mothers as martyrs, who must put their needs entirely aside for their children. Every family is different, and not everyone is going to have the means or even the desire to take the same measures Alexis did here. But all of us have needs and are responsible for taking care of ourselves and our marriages as well as our children, and I think it’s a good thing to be honest about what that means for each of us. Why should Alexis feel shame or guilt about taking care of herself, if her sons are cared for and getting the best version of their parents? Is it because we feel that the person who is having the hardest time is doing the best job? We all benefit from being open about these things, and I am grateful to have this point of view. And as a side note, I doubt anyone is giving her husband a hard time about this: I don’t see a bunch of dads dwelling in the very non-productive land of guilt this way, and maybe we should take a page from their playbook.

    Michele
  6. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Ashley and J. I appreciate other peoples perspectives and views. Of course, I know it is a provocative topic (the nanny thing, the cry it out) so I am not surprised it incited such vitriol. This motherhood thing is not for the light of heart! I only wish that as women and mothers we could engage in more of a conversation rather than an attack. Everyone has their own methods of coping with the postpartum weeks, and this was mine. I am proud of having made a choice that worked well for my family.

    Alexis

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