Two weeks before the end of my maternity leave, the husband and I were scheduled to go into Beckett’s daycare for orientation. This was a formality just to get introduced to the teachers and see the room he had been assigned to. It also was his “temporary” daycare from Feb-June as our first choice had us wait-listed for six months.
That morning I was already nervous. I think I had somehow been able to tell myself that it wasn’t really time to go back to work yet, and in my misery was even counting down the days to the 3-month mark, the date that all colic and gassiness was supposed to magically go away and sleeping through the night would begin. It was all such a blur of crying, diapers and exhaustion, and before I knew it there were only two weeks left. He was still waking up multiple times a night, inconsolable at times, and I was having to hold him upright for at least thirty minutes after each feeding to prevent gassiness and spit-up. My days were spent bouncing him and singing to him, burping him, or giving him various gas/re-flux medications to ease his discomfort. When I ran out of solutions I would just hold him and pace the halls of the house while he cried, sometimes crying myself from frustration and other times completely numb from no longer knowing what to do. But even at my lowest point I never wanted anyone’s help – in my mind as difficult as he was I was the only one that could, and should take care of him.
The daycare was extremely well kept, pleasant and clean with bright colors and children’s artwork lining the hallways. I think that was what originally drew me to choose it – I had seen quite a few others and this one was the most modern with a computer check-in system, keypad entry, and cameras in every corner. The morning of orientation, two of the teachers walked us through their policies and what we would need to bring. We signed a few documents and then it was time to see his room. I remember being excited, honestly coming in with an open mind and looking forward to him being exposed to a new environment and other babies.
We walked to the little wooden half-door of his assigned classroom and were greeted with a chorus of crying. I was expecting this as I was no stranger to the baby cry marathon, but was a bit taken aback as I peered in and noticed that there were about eight babies in the room and only one teacher feeding one. There were other teachers nearby but they were all gathered in the kitchen area – they seemed to be making or cleaning bottles and all looked flustered and unhappy. In the baby area there was a mixture of older and younger babies. Three cribs lined the left wall, each holding what looked to be the three month olds, loosely swaddled and staring blankly at the stark white ceiling. There was one older baby on the floor, bleary eyed with snot dripping down her nose and over her mouth. There were also cribs in the back of the room with more crying babies.
The scene wasn’t exactly the nightmare I had projected it to be at the time, but with every new thing I noticed I grew more and more uncomfortable. The teachers walked us around the room and I think that was the final straw. That morning had been wet and rainy, and as much as I had wiped my shoes on the mat by the front door, that didn’t change the fact that the same shoes that had run through wet grass and mud were now traipsing around the baby play area – the same rug from which sweet little snotty was crawling and chewing on toys.
On the way out they showed us his cubby and sent us home with a list of what he would need for his first day. We got into our car and strapped ourselves in as Steven asked, “so, you ready to go back to work?” And out they came – the tears. I don’t think I realized I was even upset until that moment. “We can’t send him there!” I wailed. Steven’s face had a look of surprise; had we just gone through the same tour? I couldn’t explain it but every bone in my body was telling me that this place was not right for our baby. Imagining him lying in his little crib alone, crying and spitting up with all of the teachers too busy to give him the extra attention he needed. What if his stomach issues became worse because they didn’t have time to feed him slowly, burp him ten times, and hold him upright after every meal? It made me sick. I decided then and there that I would quit my job before having to send him to that place.
The troops mobilized and with the help of my parents we were able to find a nanny who came highly recommended. I enjoyed my last week alone with him and the following week was spent training her. I often wondered at that time if I had over-reacted, but up until that moment had never experienced the “gut feeling” that moms are supposed to get when something is awry. I have not felt it since, so I know that I made the right decision in having him spend a few extra months at home. I was able to make a smooth transition back to work and our family was blessed with meeting the sweetest and most loving lady in our nanny.