Friday, June 28, 2013

Childcare - Ugh!

Childcare (Ugh!)

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.

15 comments:

  1. Have you contacted the local NICU? They might have staff that is available on off days. Also, there are daycares that are specifically for children with medical needs.

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  2. I can only imagine your fear about illness (and completely empathize with the child care situation, I am dreading trying to figure that out for myself in the fall).

    My mom managed to bring a virus with her last week (thought it was allergies) and my little guy is sick for the first time (and sis might have an ear infection). It seems that he is handling it well and his laryngomalacia hasn't made it too much worse, which is good because we are 1100 miles from our pediatrician (and not close to any hospital I would want him in).

    I really hope you both stay well! And that you figure out a great plan for child care. If you end up with any tips, I would love to read them.

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  3. So sorry to hear that the sitter got sick!

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  4. You could also check with the home visit nurse companies in your area. I know of an AMAZING NICU nurse that recently relocated and is working at such an agency until she finds a new NICU gig.

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    1. I guess I forgot to add that you might find someone looking for a side gig.

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  5. I am glad that you and Ella are not sick. I am so sorry that the whole childcare situation has been so stressful. Sending you and Ella lots of love.

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  6. Sorry you had a tough week with childcare issues, but good to hear that both you and Ella are okay and not caught any bugs. Its a great idea to reach out to nursing students. I also like the suggestions above about contacting NICU nurses. I hope you find some back-up help.

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  7. Very sorry to hear about this tough week! I know exactly the spot you were in because I feel like we've been in this situation a few times this year and I don't have the extra complication of preemie issues. Hope everyone is feeling better and that you are able to develop a good list of backups. I need to work on the same myself.

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  8. Hope Ella is doing okay. You're right, what a tough SMC week. I've had a few of those and looking back they made me stronger. (But were no fun when I was in the midst of them.) hang in there!

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  9. I feel your pain! My son was sick for almost a week and juggling work and him was very difficult because he couldn't be in daycare. It's one of those times when you realize being a SMC can be a bit more challenging. I hope Ella didn't catch whatever Nanny J had.

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  10. Ugh. So tough! We've already had it happen once that Magpie's caregiver was sick and I ended up canceling all my patients and staying home for the day (couldn't figure out another option last-minute). Now we have it lined up that if she is sick, our neighbor's son's caregiver will watch them both (and our caregiver will watch the neighbor's son in the same circumstance). Your situation is tougher because of the g-tube and Ella's preemie status. But still, I hope you can find a good stable of back up people who can be available in a pinch. I'm also wondering if one criteria for your next nanny might be to have no kids of their own so they'll be less likely to catch whatever the virus du jour is.

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  11. That is super tough, I too am having a hard time finding child care so I went to care.com. I have no idea if that is a good site? You do have to pay to be on the site and they do background checks. I was able to post an ad and I actually had 3 nurses apply one was a NICU nurse. I guess my point is maybe you could try that? I know my situation is not the same but I just wanted you know the kind of applicants I got. Hope all is well with Ella!

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  13. I was going to recommend the nursing schools...glad you are going that route. What a week!!! Hope you have some down time for yourself at some point.

    Traci and Zo

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  14. It's good to know that Nanny J is feeling much better. It's really difficult when the only person you depend upon looking after your kid gets sick and you don't have any other choice. Hope everything will be well with you and Ella. You'll get by.

    - AuPairInt.com

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