Monday, July 11, 2011

A List of Checklists

This past weekend my best friend since 4th grade, my maid of honor, came to visit with her husband and almost 4 month old daughter. This baby is the sweetest little thing. She is snuggly, adorable, flirty, smart, happy, and talkative (you know, the little babbles and coos of a 4 month old type of talkative). We had the best weekend.
Saturday night, my best friend and her husband planned to leave sweet 4 month old with David and me so they could go to a wedding – a first night out in a lonnnnnnng time. My best friend was perfectly okay with this; however, her best friend (a.k.a. me) was not as peaceful. My friend had never left this tiny baby with anyone but her own mom and no one but her or her husband had put her to sleep. I was a bit nervous (stop snickering, I wasn’t entirely ballistic, just a little nervous).
So, what do I do when I get nervous? I pray and then I make checklists. So by about ten a.m. Saturday I was writing down everything my friend did with this baby and in the correct order. I would stop her throughout different times and ask for clarification.
“Wait, she slept for an hour so now she eats and then poops? Or do I change her after her nap and THEN feed her?”
I have a very patient and calm best friend. We are similar in most ways, but this would not be one of them. She would just smile at these types of questions and say calm, peaceful things like, “well, if she needs to be changed before she eats you can change her. Don’t worry. No big deal.” And then she would pick up her tiny baby who would just smile at her and reach for her cooing. It was amazing.
So anyway. I don’t have that natural, “no big deal,” just smile and coo type personality. So I made a list. And everything went perfectly. I couldn’t love this tiny baby any more than I do. She is amazing. I cried yesterday when they left because they live 4 hours away and I don’t get to see my best friend or her tiny angel as much as I want to see them.
Anyway, I was thinking about my controlling lists today as I read, none other than “The Checklist Manifesto,” and realized that the only thing more exciting to a list maker than reading about how great checklists really are, is hearing that there are actually different levels of checklists. A checklist of checklist is explained below in an example from Boeing:
“Normal” checklists – the routine lists they use for everyday aircraft operations. There were the checks they do before starting the engines, before pulling away from the gate, before taxiing to the runway, and so on.
“Non-normal” checklists – covering every conceivable emergency situation a pilot might run into: smoke in the cockpit, different warning lights turning on, a dead radio, a copilot becoming disabled, and engine failure, to name just a few. They addressed situations most pilots never encounter in their entire careers. But the checklists were there should they need them.
I thought back to Saturday night and my “normal” checklist. It was just a normal list of things I should do to keep everything running smoothly and routinely. And then I thought of my mental, “non-normal” checklist that I didn’t write down for that night, but that I knew just as well as I knew the written one. The “non-normal” checklist made me do things like keep my hand on tiny 4 month old’s stomach while she slept to make sure she was still breathing. Or things like making David go in and check on her every five minutes with me. No, no, not just “peak your head in the door” type of check on her, but actually “go in, put your phone light down near her face, and make sure her nostrils are moving” type of check on her. This is not necessarily “normal.”
We had a wonderful weekend soaking up every minute we could with our wonderful friends and their beautiful daughter. We went out to eat, we watched David on the 18th hole of his golf tournament, we talked for hours, and we relaxed.
When they left, I felt like I should add to my checklist something along the lines of, “remember to relax and think things like ‘No big deal.’” But that doesn’t seem like something that would go on any sort of normal list. All of mine might be “not-normal.”
Here's what I do best with the baby...snuggle and make sure she's safe:

Here's what David did best...talked to her about how much of a freak I was. They agreed with each other, rightfully so.


  1. Oh my. Someone is going to make the best mother someday...when it's time. :) What a lucky baby to have such a wonderful babysitter as you. And just so you know.. I checked to see if Briana was breathing until she was around three. You're not alone.

  2. When I have my nieces and nephews overnight I don't get ANY sleep because I am constantly getting up to make sure they are still breathing...even the 5 year olds. Gah!

  3. You are a natural! I didn't know you had a blog too! Yay! I miss you and hope you are doing well. I am still so sorry we couldn't make it to your wedding!