It started with Anna, our first born, who has now fully embraced her stubborn two-year-old attitude. Like many new parents, Katie and I had no idea what we were doing. We were thrilled by getting pregnant. But we were clueless in how to care for a new baby. So we did what everybody else does. We bought the books and DVDs to prepare to become Masters of the Baby Universe. One of the DVDs was on the best way to soothe fussy babies. We casually watched, knowing we would never need these techniques we would have the perfect calm baby!
We were wrong. Anna``s newborn cry quickly became my arch nemesis as it shook the rafters. It was maddening. Katie and I scrambled to find absolutely anything that could soothe our child before we strangled each other to death. In those first few weeks, if somebody would have come along and said we could pay them ten thousand dollars for something that could help, I would not have hesitated. If it was 4 am, I would have paid $50k. Who needs two cars anyway? Let``s refinance the house, babe.
Nothing seemed to work with any consistency. Not swaddling. Not swinging. Not a pacifier. Not a washing machine. Not a train ride from Austin to Boston. Okay, we didn``t actually try that, but I would have if somebody said it could work.
Then we found it. The Holy Grail of Baby Soothing. It was life changing. While watching a DVD from a professional doctor, we discovered the ancient art of rhythmic shushing. We had heard of shushing but this was different. It was loud and intrusive and in long rhythms and it worked like a snake charmer on an angry viper. I saw Anna quiet immediately, embrace the shush with her whole tiny being, and her eyes drift off into dream world. Katie and I stared at each other in awe, as we celebrated a small taste of heaven. Our home was quiet.
But then we discovered a problem. Katie could not shush loud enough or long enough to have the same impact as dad. She simply did not have the lung capacity to pull it off. So I became the designated shusher for the family. At first, that was fine with me. I enjoyed playing the role of hero. I was Indiana Jones and Anna``s cry was my Temple of Doom. But as the day approached when I would go back to work full time, I could see the panic bubble up in Katie``s eyes. What would she do without me at home all the time? How would she survive? We``d have to give the baby back. At least that``s what I saw in her troubled face.
It was during a two-thirty in the morning daddy-baby girl "shush" session when inspiration hit me. I remembered that Katie had a small digital voice recorder in the drawer of her desk. I began to wonder...could it work? Was there something to the shush coming straight out of my mouth? The next day, I isolated myself in my lab (my car parked in the quiet driveway), and I recorded myself rhythmically "shushing" into the device for ten minutes, while the neighbors stared at this weirdo who lived next door. I was a mad scientist.
Then we put my invention to the test. Anna let it fly, the type of baby scream that threatened to put a crack in my precious plasma TV. I placed the digital voice recorder near her ear and pressed play. We held our breath and whispered a prayer. Anna engaged the shush as if it was me personally performing the dance with her. Her face went to a place of peace and she fell asleep within minutes. Katie and I looked at each other, as if we``d just won the 100 million dollar lottery. Magic. We``d found the magic bullet. Forget cloning sheep. I had cloned a daddy. Put me on the cover of Time Magazine.
From that day forward, the "Shusher", as we began to call it, became the number one tool in our parental arsenal. We never went anywhere without it. We actually freaked out if it slid behind the sofa cushions and we couldn``t find it. Because it was so small and portable, we used it in the stroller, we used it in the car seat, we used it in the grocery store, we used it in the swing, in the crib, in our arms. Grandparents used it. Babysitters used it. We used it a dozen times every day.
Then Anna grew and could start soothing herself more easily, so we bronzed The Shusher and mounted it in a glass case above the fireplace. Okay, not really, but we stuck it in a drawer and waited. As fate would have it, we got pregnant again when Anna was only five months old. Baby girl number two. When Madison was born, I was ready. I had my cape on and looked forward to seeing if the Mad Dad Scientist was a one-hit-wonder.
In the hospital, on her first full day of life on this planet, Madison had her first encounter with The Shusher. Poor girl. She never had a chance. She crumbled easily under its spell. Her eyes found the same peace planet that Anna had visited several times a day, and she quickly fell asleep. The hospital nurses were astonished. They had never seen anything like it. We quickly became the talk of the 3rd floor. The Shusher was gaining fame. Pregnant friends were starting to ask for it.
It was on the car ride home from the hospital, when Katie and I realized that we had to do something. We had so many friends struggling with their babies. And the first few months were such a crucial bonding time. We could no longer keep this to ourselves. It was time to share this with the world. The Shusher needed to go public in some way.
And so began our journey!