Why don’t you guys take a break tonight from poopy butts and sick kids and go have some dinner and drinks. I can stay till 9 so you’ll have plenty of time for dessert too!
Mike and I received the text above from one of our nannies while I was en route to Solly’s first-ever dentist appointment, after a sleepless night thanks to a teething and diaper-rashed Bea. Texts and conversations like this are fairly normal from her and our other nanny: “Camie, go for a run! I’ve got the kids. Go ride your horse. Go take a nap! TAKE A BREAK!”
To them, nannying is a job, yes, but in the 15 months and 8 months that we’ve employed Nanny Jen and Catherine, respectively, each woman has become an extension of our family. They love our babies, go above and beyond to learn handling methods, feeding techniques, equipment, doctors’ and therapists’ names, and help me with research and brainstorming ideas for just about everything. They get what both of our babies need and also act as a continuation of me around the house, doing laundry, wiping the counters, letting the dog out, basically doing whatever needs to be done to keep our household running smoothly.
I feel so incredibly comfortable leaving my babies in their care. I don’t know what I’d do without them.
When we moved to Nashville, we largely chose to move so we’d be closer to family for some much-needed support. What we didn’t realize was how much support we needed.
While we had a wonderful babysitter and family help for whenever I needed a quick breather or had an appointment, it wasn’t until I was about 4 months pregnant with Bea when Mike suggested we look for some outside help. I’ve always been a little wary when leaving Solly with someone other than me because he requires unique attention than a typical child, and, being the stubborn person that I am, when I decided to put my career on hold, I was adamant that I didn’t need any help. The idea seemed silly to me since this would now be my full-time job. But, because Bea would be born via a planned cesarean, I wouldn’t be able to pick up or carry Solly for at least 6 weeks so I agreed to find a nanny for at least that amount of time.
I put an ad on care.com and got a slew of responses, but I stopped dead in my tracks when I received a note from our soon-to-be Nanny Jen. She’d recently moved to town, but had previously cared for a special needs boy in her hometown and had family members with cerebral palsy. She “got it”. I could tell that even before we met at a coffee shop to discuss what a working relationship could look like. 15 months later, she feels like a part of our little family and Solly gets SO excited to see her the three mornings a week that she now works. We had a similar experience when looking for someone to fill the other two mornings a week. The stars and the moons aligned, and Nanny Catherine fell into our laps.
Being a Mom of two littles and having one of those littles have extra special needs is no walk in the park. Before we had Bea and I was alone all day with Solly, I would constantly stress about whether or not I was doing enough for him – did we have all the therapies we needed, was I working with him enough during the day, was he getting enough socialization, did he have the time to just be a kid – on top of worrying about finding the time to do laundry, cook, have an occasional date night with Mike, and schedule in some much needed “me” time. In fact, I was so busy that I never took time for myself, and was constantly frazzled, overwhelmed, and exhausted. Since having consistent help at home, I have found myself to be much less stressed, less worried about Solly, and overall so much happier. Sure, I still stress about Solly’s future – that’s just the m.o. of any special needs Mom – but I no longer worry that Solly is getting enough time for therapy or to just be a kid because I know every second that he’s with one of the nannies, they are giving him all the attention he needs. And, on top of that, I am now able to spend some time on myself or much needed one-on-one time with Bea or Mike. It’s truly been the best of all worlds.
My goal with this post not to brag about how much time I have on my hands (I don’t) or say how wonderful and carefree my special needs life is (it’s not). But, as a Mom who was so fearful of allowing a stranger into her home to handle her babies that she stressed herself out to the max to fit everything in and lost a bit of who she is in the process, I wanted to share our experience to show that there are wonderful, talented “strangers” that want to learn all about your child and love them as though they were their own child. If you’re a Mom of a special needs kiddo and you’ve wondered how you can get some breathing time or if you can truly trust someone else to watch your baby and you have the means to do it, take it from me: you can. (And if the means are tight, as they typically are for special needs families, ask around to see if there are local resources to help with childcare. Some organizations, like The Arc, will provide, for families meeting specific criteria, support assistance that can cover things like childcare.) There are many people out there who can and will take such great care of your child, so even if it’s for an hour a month, take the leap and find someone to help you. You’ll thank yourself for it!