The Amazing Person Who Eased My Fear of Going Back to Work Post-Baby

mom holding babyNothing can quite prepare you for the feelings you have the first time you leave your kids with a sitter. And it's mostly fear-based: the what ifs; the concern that something could go wrong and you aren't there to stop it. When my 12-week maternity leave was coming to an end, I needed someone solid to take care of my twins -- and here's what I did to make sure I was making the right decision.

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Because of my situation, going back to work was the only option for me, and it was what made the most sense financially at that time. Hiring an in-home sitter (or nanny) for my twins also was the best option. I shudder at the word "nanny" since it feels so stuffy upper-class and I'm anything but that. But that's what she was. I learned about Uma from a local twins group I was in -- she was looking for employment because the family she was currently working with had their children preparing to enter a full day of school. It was that family that wrote the ad -- beautifully written by a mom and dad who clearly felt their nanny was family.

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I called several people regarding the job of taking care of my babies, but I was most comfortable with Uma and her references. When she arrived at my apartment for the interview, my twins were just 9 weeks old, and I was barely hitting my stride with breastfeeding. I immediately had a good feeling when she walked in the door -- she was warm and kind and yet followed my lead on how I wanted to mother my children. She was going to have to prepare breast milk for them, and she was already knowledgeable in how to do that. She didn't insert her ideas or methods, but carefully listened as I told her mine. It was as if our values were aligned, and I also felt very calm in her presence. So did my babies. Both seemed serene in her arms as she held them and lightly bounced, singing a little song. She even helped bring them to me as I situated myself to breastfeed them. I felt really at ease with her -- it was as if she was an aunt I never knew.

She told me about her own children, her young grandchildren, and how much she loves babies. The last two families she worked for had twins and she was with them for years -- from when the children were weeks old to when they were school-aged. I wanted her to be the one to step in for me when I had to be at work.

It was still a terrifying idea to leave my children with her -- she was a stranger, a woman we found on the Internet through a local board. And even though everything was checking out perfectly, I needed to see her in action for a full day or days before I felt fully comfortable heading miles away from my babies for around 10 hours a day. To help reduce my fears, I had her start a week prior to my returning to my job so I would be there when she was there. I wanted to show her how I did things, see her in action, and get to know her better. I used the time she was there that week to do cleaning I had been putting off, go grocery shopping, take an hour to sit in the coffee shop just staring off in the distance. Each time I left the house, I gained a little confidence in her, returning to see the babies happy or napping. But these were little moments away -- not the full day this trial period was leading up to. I could never prepare myself for the emotions I felt that very first full day.

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After a week with Uma, I was as comfortable as I could be. But the morning my maternity leave ended, when I kissed my babies good-bye and made sure Uma was prepared with phone numbers for the seventeenth time, I felt fear creep in. When I closed the apartment door and locked it from the outside, tears welled up in my eyes. Some of it was that guilt that many moms feel when they have to return to work, and some of it was sadness that I wished I was able to stay with them -- what if a "first" happened while I was at my office? The many scary news stories I'd read also inserted that fear that Uma wasn't who I thought she was -- but I quickly pushed that away. She was a lovely person, she was going to care for my babies just like she did her own. And that is exactly what happened.

There were the times I came home from work early and caught her at the park with my babies happily playing with them with love in her eyes. Many stay-at-home moms in my neighborhood also told me how wonderful she was with my twins. She celebrated their milestones with us and truly became a part of our family.

That initial fear I had subsided, along with the guilt (well, some of it, anyway). But it was that fear that had made me cautious and thoroughly check out her references and take the time to be with her as she cared for my most precious babies. All of that was worth it for peace of mind. Sometimes our fears help protect us and make us truly examine things before we dive into something or a situation. While my worst fears were unfounded, they did lead me and my children to having a wonderful relationship with our nanny.

My babies are now 6 years old, and while we moved hours away from Uma, she still calls every so often and sends the kids birthday gifts every year. I'm so grateful for her. I consider her like family -- she was a part of our lives at such an important time, and she gave me peace of mind knowing my kids were safe in her care, along with a friendship I will forever cherish. 

 

Image via iStock.com/Stas_Uvarov

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