Friday, May 20, 2016

The Right Fit: Finding a Dayhome

I had so many mixed emotions when my year at home with Scottie was coming to an end. I looked forward to clothes not covered in yogurt and a steady paycheck again, but I knew I would struggle to adapt to a full day without my baby. In her first year of life, I had not only never left her overnight, but I had never not been there to put her to bed. At most, I snuck away for a couple of hours on Saturday morning for yoga and a tea with a girl friend feeling guilty and rushing back to relieve my husband. I felt that because I nursed she couldn't survive without me even though she was well into eating solids and taking a sippy cup. It was a co-dependence we created together with a cockily newborn who would only stop crying when she was nursed, my imagination that this had never evolved, and the guilt I felt at the thought of leaving her.

When it came time to find a Dayhome I thought one in our area would be best and when I read an ad online I cried and felt it was going to be the perfect fit. Four days in, Scottie wouldn't eat, she refused to even sit in the high chair there, she wouldn't allow the sitter to put her down, and when I picked her up afterwards she clung to me for an hour looking like all life had been sucked from her. The sitter spoke of her frustrations and the other children's frustrations. I felt sorry for her and dreaded dropping Scottie off every morning for fear she would ruin someones day when she brought so much joy to ours. Then she came home with bruises behind each knee and we were told it was from kicking wanting out of  the high chair. It finally hit me. The ad I cried over wasn't a sign it was meant to be. Scottie was overwhelmed with two many children and not enough hands. Whether it's her low vision, her year at home most days with just me, or something else entirely, she needed less overt stimulation and more structured play.

Luckily, we quickly found somewhere new and putting all our eggs in a new basket I brought Scottie on a Monday morning feeling so anxious that someone else wouldn't be able to handle my baby who was so full of life and happiness at home. My heart raced and I felt on edge for two days waiting to go pick her up and hear the words that she wasn't eating, wouldn't be put down, and more frustration. It didn't happen. Scottie began to thrive. When I picked her up she smiled, blew kisses bye, and sang ba-ba-ba the whole way home. She was sitting in her high chair AND eating, she wanted to be held the first day and with each day it got better and better. She was being her silly old self and most importantly she was being loved by the new Dayhome provider and by the kids.

I feel guilty for not seeing the signs of her unhappiness sooner, but I figured all babies first weeks in someone else's care might cause the same outcomes. Sometimes you need to trust your instincts, but even more often you need to listen to your baby, do your homework, interview at least a few people, and find the right fit. I'm so happy that we have.