I could have also titled this post "Thank God this week is OVER!".
As I considered becoming a SMC I thought a lot about childcare and my support system. I had originally planned on daycare but knew there would still be tough moments since my family does not live nearby. While struggling with infertility, when I allowed myself to think about having my baby I thought more along the lines of a home daycare or nanny-share with neighbors. Of course, those situations could cause significant issues should an unexpected need for back-up care arise.
And then I had a micro-preemie. And my childcare options were immediately limited to exclusive in-home care.
Let me back up and provide an update. In June I exited the Au Pair program with about 6 months left to go. I don't want to go into the details but will summarize... live-in help was not the right child-care option for me.
As someone who has lived on my own for nearly 15 years, I struggled with sharing my house. While my house is ideal for a roommate/AuPair situation - the entire 2nd floor is guest space, I bought a TV & installed Direct TV for the AP bedroom - that only works when the other person living in the house wants their own privacy as well. I was "sucking it up" for months and as a result getting moody/bitchy. I felt like it was impacting the time I would never get back with Ella.
It was a hard decision because AP and Ella loved each other but when I finally decided to be true to myself and told the AP I needed space/privacy, she shut down - wouldn't respond (literally head against the wall). Shortly after that I learned that I still had a short window of time left where I could recover most of my money from the (remaining) program and decided to let her go. Thankfully, she found another family to finish out her last 6 months in the US.
Before I made the decision official I put out feelers with our local neighborhood mom's group for nanny recommendations. I was surprised at the number of referrals I received. It was good timing as well as I was open to summer-only help, to get us by until I could find long-term help.
I ended up with 2 really great nanny's, one was long-term and the other was summer only. In choosing, I went with the summer-only (Nanny J) based on my gut. She is an experienced sitter/child-care provider and an EMT who is waiting to start with Medic this Fall. She is really good at getting on the floor with Ella and supporting her therapy/homework which is VERY important given Ella's delays. She was also eager to learn to use Ella's g-tube.
Part of my decision to go with her was strategic as in the long run she could be a good sitter/back-up care option for the future. Someone familiar with Ella and her needs (although those are ever changing).
On Thursday of her 2nd week of work, Nanny J got sick. She was perfectly fine and chipper when she got to work but upon coming home from a walk with Ella before noon she was coughing and sneezing. She said she feared she might have the virus that was going around her house...
That's enough to freak out a micro-preemie mom! I sent her home to rest. I spent a lot of time that afternoon trying to find someone to come keep Ella on Friday without much luck. During Music Therapy that afternoon I mentioned my dilemma to the therapist and she recommended her sitter, who used to work for her company and is a kindergarten teacher. AND she didn't work for her on Friday's. I took her number and called her based on that information.
I had to go into the office downtown for a couple of hours on Friday. As great as the sitter was, all I could think is "I'm leaving my baby with a stranger". It worked out well and I'm actually trying to get her to come back next Friday for another gap in childcare due to the holiday.
Long story... a tad bit shorter
I assumed Nanny J would be better by Monday. Sunday night (the weekend is a whole other story I'll never find time to blog about, so just know we had a LONG weekend because I volunteered to do something that was too much for Ella), late I get a text from Nanny J saying she had been better but her fever spiked again. So unexpectedly I was without care on Monday. Due to our long weekend I emailed my boss and told her I was taking the day off (as I call it, a mental health day).
Nanny J thought she would be better to come on Tuesday, so she did, and wore a mask (because yes, I have masks in my house). I came out of my office close to noon, took one look at her and sent her home.
Remember, as a 25 week micro preemie, a virus would very likely put Ella back in the hospital. While I was concerned about the nanny, it's more about Ella.
I immediately started reaching out to contacts to try to find someone to watch Ella on Wednesday. I had to be back downtown for a few hours, plus I simply needed to get work done. I've been up late every night this week trying to catch up on work that i have not been getting done because I've not had childcare this week.
Unfortunately, what this experience has taught me is I do not have a good back-up care plan in place for Ella. I contacted at least half-a-dozen people. Everyone has plans/a life. Even if there was an option to drop her off somewhere, I can't just take her somewhere because 1) she wont eat for anyone but me 2) since she wont eat the caregiver has to know/be willing to use her g-tube. Since I don't have anyone on my list that fits these needs the alternative is the caregiver needs to be in my house, since I work from the house (with a few exceptions) and can jump out of my office to feed/tube Ella when necessary.
I ended up having a not-yet-well Nanny J come back on Wednesday to keep Ella because there was no other option. I had to work, I had to be downtown for a few hours as well. Sometimes in your work there is more pressure than normal to perform... this is where I am with work right now. I need to work, to focus on work. And taking a risk with a not-yet-well Nanny J was the risk I had to take.
So far Ella and I are okay. Let's hope/pray we stay healthy.
Thankfully, Nanny J seemed much better today!
So... I have just added a new item to my super-long priority list (which doesn't include blogging but I do this when I can because it is a needed outlet) is to make up a flyer to send to the local nursing schools. My intent is to have a list at least 15 people long (vetted) who I can call in a pinch for back up care... one after the other until I find someone who is available to help.
In the meantime, my house is a wreck, I have not cooked in a week, laundry is piled up and I'm behind on EVERYTHING. There has been no time for anything this week except for work & Ella - and work suffered.
This has been one of those tough SMC weeks... I knew what I was getting into and I love everything about it... but I have been extremely challenged due to the circumstances of lack of childcare this week.