Mother at Fourteen


On Friday at approximately 2:15 p.m. I welcomed Cyrus Billy Ray Cactus into the cold, harsh world.

Child Development, a course here at Blaine High School, offers knowledge of how kids grow and interact with their surroundings. To test student’s knowledge of infants they take a baby home. To be specific, a robot baby: the RealCare Baby stimulator.

As an outsider, I decided to take one home for Memorial Day weekend and test my skills as a teenager, rather than a teenager who has taken the course.

I am not in Child Development but have three nephews. This was an interesting experience because although I am a daycare for my sisters two toddlers during the summer, I have never babysat them at the infant stage.

Thanks to Ms. Allison, the Child Development teacher I picked up the robot Friday before school ended.

The way the RealCare Baby 3 works, you set up a time to have the baby be activated and a time for it to shut off. You also get a wrist band, whenever you need to care for the baby you bring it close to one of the ID recognition areas. That way it tracks whenever you have cared for it. Otherwise, the care that you have given it doesn’t count.

My baby, Cyrus would activate at 4 p.m. Friday night and deactivate Sunday night at 4 p.m.

Ms. Allison sent me home with a video on how the stimulation functions, the ID wristband, a baby carrier, baby, and the necessary baby bag. Within the baby bag, you had two cloth diapers, two changes of clothing, a bottle, a blanket, and the care card.

There are four functions for the RealCare Baby 3, feeding, burping, rocking, and diaper changing. All of which you have to touch the ID bracelet to a recognition point before doing.

Feeding involves using the supplied bottle which you touch to the stimulations lips. Feeding can take up to thirty minutes to complete. There are the appropriate feeding sounds and when the baby is full it coos.

Burping is simply patting the baby’s back until it breathes heavily and burps, this took me an average of 5-30 minutes.

Rocking is very self-explanatory, except that I never had to rock during the stimulation.

Finally, diaper changing. The baby bag gives you two cloth diapers, one had a yellow patch and the other has a green patch. Under the patch, there is a magnet that tells the computer in the stimulation you changed its diaper. It’s very obvious when the baby needs a change because when you change it’s diaper it immediately stops crying and coos.

For the first two hours after activation Cyrus did nothing. There were a couple of coos every once in a while but other than that, silence.

Then the sirens sounded. The stimulation is way louder than you’d think. But identifying what Cyrus wanted was easier than I thought, mainly because there are only four functions.

But also because the baby has different cries. Parents sound crazy when they say they can identify whatever their child needs by the cry, however, I can say that parents are not, in fact, crazy.

When the baby needed food it would cry loudly, diaper changed involved screaming, and burping was more whimpery. After you become in tune with the baby’s sounds care identification is fairly easy.

Friday evening went without a hitch, and then night came. I set us up in my bedroom, Cyrus was in his carrier and all of his needed care materials were laid out next to him. He woke up 4 times, waking up was fine, it was having to sit awake for 30 minutes to feed him that was difficult.

Only a couple minutes after finishing feeding, he needed a fifteen-minute burping, an hour later he needed a changing. The care he needed was what seemed a never-ending chain.

Overall the first night wasn’t as bad as I thought, yet I could never do this every night for over a year.

The next morning we had another chain of baby needs so we sat and watched TV while going through the routine. At noon another challenge had come by, he wouldn’t stop crying. I tried everything, feeding, burping, rocking, changing. Then I realized I hadn’t pressed my ID bracelet to him. Count one child neglect.

Amazingly I stayed home all weekend, except for my dance rehearsals. The car ride was interesting none, to say the least, but we got there. My choreographer is the mother of three children and is always around her church community’s kids, so this was nothing for her.

She had also done something like this at my age, except she had an egg.

Before we started rehearsing Cyrus started crying, again, I slowly started to freak out as I frantically changed his diaper and discovered that he wanted to feed.

My family and choreographer laughed at me as I sheepishly got off the ground and handed him and the bottle to my sister so we could begin.

We got home in one piece (luckily) and had a quiet evening.

Night two began. Cyrus woke up four times, again the biggest thing was that feeding and burping took forever, and one action of care often leads to another. Besides, that every time I had to wake up I couldn’t help but think about how much easier this would be with another person. If I only had to wake up two times that night I wouldn’t have felt as drained the next morning. Mad respect for single parents.

Sunday was smooth except for one thing. From twelve p.m. to three p.m. Cyrus didn’t make a sound. I had honestly thought that I killed him, I went over every action we had completed, anytime he was even near moisture. Around three-thirty, my anxieties were relieved when he required every care action twice.

Infants are weird like that- when they’re crying you wish they weren’t, but when they aren’t crying, you wish they were.

While I am writing this, I have just received the stimulation report. The only action that was missed was one diaper change, which I assume to have been when I forgot the ID recognition.

Lisa, my neighbor who was visiting for a barbeque, has a daughter who also did this project, however, she had to bring the stimulation to a family wedding (awkward), at the end Sarah (Lisa’s daughter) found out that she killed that baby twice from snapping its head back.

Aside from her and my other neighbors finding the project interesting I couldn’t interact with them that much, instead of hanging out at the table eating I would be sitting on the couch juggling Cyrus. Instead of talking with them I was trying to figure out why he was crying.

Parenting is surprisingly isolating, you have to give up social opportunities (like seeing Detective Pikachu on Friday night) in order to be a good parent, that part was one of the most exhausting.

Overall I overestimated how much I would hate babies after this, they’re still cute and I still love my nephews, but I could still NEVER imagine waking up every night to take care of an infant, let alone a stimulation, sorry Cyrus.