When we decided to have children, I knew I was committing myself to a new life of yuck: changing diapers, cleaning up vomit, sticky fingers, you name it. I had not, however, thought about the fact that I would be picking someone else’s nose. Or that babies and toddlers don’t really know how to blow their own noses, which means when they’re stuffed, it’s up to you to de-stuff them. Which brings in the most horrible torture device ever invented: The Blue Sucker of Hate.
It doesn’t take long for even a three-month old to see the thing coming and scream and squirm, forcing the apologetic parent to pin down the baby’s head and cram the spout up her nose, release the bulb, and then hurry to wipe away the goop that sucks out. As if that’s not gross enough, there’s no good way to clean the thing; we opted for running scalding water and repeatedly depressing and releasing the bulb.
When we travelled back East for Christmas, we didn’t think to bring it with us, which meant, of course, that the baby would get a cold and wake up screaming from lack of air. She’s hooked on the paci, you see, and without clear nasal passages, she has to breathe through her mouth; with a paci, she can’t do that. Which means she can’t suck on her paci, which means she can’t sleep, which means we can’t sleep.
The first night it happened, we were at my mother-in-law’s, and I remembered that we still had the drug syringe that comes with baby Tylenol. That worked well enough for her to get back to sleep. But when it happened at my parents’, I realized I’d left the drug syringe in Washington, DC, and we had nothing to clear out her poor little nose. Tissues, Q-tips–nothing worked. Eventually, I propped my iPad next to her Pack’n’Play, tuned in the Koi Pond app, and the sight and sound of fish swimming through water was relaxing enough that she was able to fall asleep without her paci. That whole process took three hours.
So in the morning, I sent my dad into town to fetch a new Blue Sucker of Hate. Fifteen minutes later, he called home to ask a question: “Do you want the regular one or the electric one?”
I raised my eyebrows. An electric snotsucker? Buy both. I figured if the electric one didn’t work, we could go back to the manual one and we’d only be out $20. Thus we became the proud owners of the Graco Nasal Clear Nasal Aspirator, a product so excellent that they had to use the word nasal twice.
A friend of mine said it looks like the bugsucker in the Matrix, and he’s not wrong. (I tried to find a picture of the bugsucker, but all I found was a bunch of schematics of the actual bug itself.) But here’s the snot sucker:
Pretty easy to see how it works: stick the nozzle in the baby’s nostril, press the button, and the snot goes into the little receptacle, a process that is gross in the extreme. But here’s the kicker: when I tried it on Gillian, it made her smile. I switched to the other nostril, and she laughed. Eliza came over to see what the fun was about and wanted to try it herself. The only explanation, I think, is that the buzzing of the motor tickles their noses. Or something. But we managed to replace the Blue Sucker of Hate with the Happy Fun Sucker of Joy, and I’m OK with it either way.
It does the job well enough, although if you have any stubborn mucus the motor begins to overheat a bit (which means you can smell a train transformer). There’s a little button that plays music, which we haven’t used simply because the damned music doesn’t turn off until it’s done playing, and we know how I feel about off-switches on children’s toys. The nozzle and receptacle come off easily for cleansing, and it takes two AA batteries.
I love this thing. I’m going to buy it for every baby shower I attend in the future, and may even buy them for people I know who’ve recently had kids. It’s got all the things I love in a baby gadget: it makes sense, it’s not too expensive, it comes with a travel bag, and best of all, it takes an otherwise horrid task and makes it almost pleasurable. For the baby, at least.