Friday, 13 February 2015

spending nights in a strangers bedroom

on this night i have a booking to burp, settle and change new twins in a bid to help the mum & dad eke out a few precious minutes of extra sleep. last night i was up late so i know my reserves are not great. an afternoon nap is in order so in the mid afternoon i head to bed. i lay there wide awake and knowing that this might cost me later, i am on the edge of getting up again but i must drift off because soon i wake to the sound of someone walking quickly along the hallway.
soon after i wake again to the sound of a car, it has come up the street and for some reason the driver has decided to accelerate noisily away. and so i lay there a little longer but sleep eludes me and i get up.
my favourite computer is suffering a terrifyingly bad virus so i spend a little while googling for solutions but the problem with "virus solutions" is that quite a few appear to be viruses. having already created this disaster i am reluctant to make it worse so, in defeat, i turn away from it. there will be another day and besides, it is time to get dinner.
cooking, eating and cleaning up are done and the clock is creeping toward my 10pm start time. i watch a little tv and shower to wash away the stickiness of a humid february day. then hugs goodbye.

i crank up the car air conditioning so that i arrive feeling fresh. the drive through quietening streets is easy and soon i am pulling up at the security garage. i forget to press the button with the key symbol and the gate wont open. maybe there is a time delay after failed attempts because it takes me three more tries before the little LED screen invites me to "go in"

my clients have some of their belongings in the parking space so i  pull sharply to one side so i can avoid moving the things. the garage is echo-ey and lonely, i am just locking the car when someone bangs through the heavy door to put rubbish in the garbage room. my tummy rumbles a little and i wish i had stashed a chocolate in my bag.

I reach the top of the stairs and open the door. after the heat of the garage it is a relief to feel the cool night air. i can see my client drawing the curtains as i walk toward their apartment.

i know this family, the grandma greets me with great warmth and says goodnight to the dad, who is just turning in. grandma and i talk about an illness that seems to be passing through the household, the changing routine of the twins and the first brave little excursions of the newly expanded family. we chat about motherhood and travel. i wish i was friends with this lady and remind myself that i am hired help.

after about a half hour i can hear a baby stirring and so my work begins. i catch up with mum while she feeds bub and then i burp and change him. if his brother doesnt wake i might be able to get a little shut eye.

after a little while i hear crying so i creep toward the bedroom door but i realise that it is the sick toddler who is disturbed. his nan will take care of him. the crying stops and starts, with the special tone that only a sick child has.

after a while i wake again. the second twin is awake and the first is stirring. more than an hour passes as i pat tiny backs, change nappies and replace vomit wet clothes. the exquisite softness and sweet smell of the newborns are a fringe benefit of the job and some primal instinct tempts me to kiss fuzzy little heads but i settle for putting my cheek to their heads as they rest on my shoulder.

there are short intervals when i am waiting for a baby to finish feeding, sometimes i fetch a glass of water or re-stock the nappy box but most times i perch uneasily on the edge of another couple's bed, chatting to the mum. the light is dim and the air conditioner seems to be roaring. it is always an oddly intimate experience.

sometime after three am both babies are settled again, i leave at five so i doze some more and then it's time to go. the apartment is in deep silence and i surely wont be needed so i leave a promotional fridge magnet on the kitchen bench and slip out of the door.

the city is just beginning to wake as i drive home in pre-dawn light. when i get there i am not interested in anything but falling asleep. i will be passed out when, in less than an hour my household starts to hum with the new day. 


  1. That is a very interesting insight into what exactly happens. Thanks for sharing.

  2. thanks ramana!
    i am deeply appreciative of my readers here who have encouraged this venture of mine. i can't report on births due to privacy issues but this is a little more generic.

    so, for all the encouragers, this is something of what i do. thank you for staying with me <3

  3. Kia Ora Kylie...that is a real fine piece of writing. I could "see" it as I read your words. I'm going to have a nap now...
    Kia Kaha..

  4. Robb,
    thank you! and naps rock!

  5. Not my kind of night, but then it helps to be younger and not in constant pain. Really, there's so many things that I can't even imagine anymore, but then I know that this wasn't easy for you either.

  6. snow,
    if you had told me a few years ago that i would be giving up my beloved sleep for other peoples babies i would have thought you were mad!
    the people i work for are usually appreciative and friendly, it beats working for a psychopathic bully.

  7. bob,
    i doubt you have had a nap since you were in diapers!

  8. An interesting insight into the different things you're helping people with. I would find it pretty hard to stay up all night, it was hard enough doing it when I was a twenty something. Nice that you got such a warm welcome from the grandma.

  9. nick,
    it's much easier when you can have little naps.
    pulling an all nighter for partying or for a birth is pretty tough


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