Feb 13, 2012  •  In Aerin, Claire, Motherhood, Personal

T-Minus Two Weeks

One of my ex-boyfriends is just 15 months younger than his older sister. When we started dating, he told me how, shortly after he was born, his parents sent his sister to go live with the grandparents for a year because taking care of two very young kids — one of whom was extremely colicky — was just too difficult for his mother.

I remember reacting to this story with judgement. “HOW can anyone send their own child away? That’s just absurd!”

Now, being a mother to two children just 13 months apart, I can understand why they did this. Not that I want to send Claire or Aerin away, but I can understand.

In just a couple of weeks, J’s parents will be returning to Hong Kong, which means that I will no longer have help with the kids.

And I am scared.

Correction: I AM TERRIFIED.

At 16 months old, Claire is still very much a toddler just learning to be a toddler. She still falls down and trips easily. She is starting to assert her independence. She tests our boundaries. And while she certainly understands the word “No,” she is more likely than not to ignore the warning unless you find a way to distract her, or forcibly stop her (which is guaranteed to end in tears). Additionally, because she is still too young, I can’t fully reason or bargain with her.

At 3 months old, Aerin is severely attached to me. She will not let anyone else even feed her. I am the only one who can keep her from screaming her lungs out. (And yes, she has been known to continually, hysterically cry for over an hour at a time when I am not available.) Unlike Claire, who never really liked cuddling from the beginning, Aerin loves to be held and cuddled and insists on being held by her mommy at all times.

As for how I will manage to take care of both of them, all day, every day, is beyond me. Yes I can put Aerin in a carrier…but she only likes being in a carrier face-out and only for about 15 minutes at a time. I can get a big playpen and leave Claire in there, but she is at a stage where she wants, and needs to explore the world that this too, would only last about 15 minutes before she starts to throw a tantrum.

This is on top of my lack of sleep. Ever since Aerin hit a sleep regression a couple of weeks ago, I have been so tired that I feel nauseous all day. I have lost 5 lbs in one week. My concentration and patience wanes with each passing day and more often than not, I will start crying too whenever one of the kids (or both) has a meltdown.

And this is when I have help.

I have considered going back to work and putting both kids in daycare. But the good daycares in our area would cost us about $4,500/month for both kids and that’s about how much I made at my old job after taxes and other deductions — now that the economy is down and the NYC market is oversaturated with people in my field, I cannot realistically expect to earn that much when similar job descriptions are paying much less.

We have considered putting Claire in a part-time daycare, but part-time spots are rare and the waiting lists are over a year long.

We are in no financial situation to hire a nanny.

The logical thing to do would be to just tough it out. Let the kids cry. Let them watch TV when I need a break. Let the house get messy. Do whatever it takes to just survive. Trust in God. (I just wrote a post about it yesterday, for goodness sake!)

And, if push comes to shove, we will need to make additional sacrifices to hire a part-time nanny or a mother’s helper.

18 Responses to “T-Minus Two Weeks”

  1. Meredith:

    Thanks again for such an honest post. My neighbor is in a similar situation to you and when I stopped by her house one afternoon, I noticed she had a mother’s helper. She was lucky enough to know a 12 year old who is home schooled so she could come over for a few hours once a week to play with her sons a bit while she gets laundry done. I’m not sure if that would be doable, but I figured I’d throw it out there. Good luck!

  2. Catherine:

    I don’t know if this is feasible for you, but I was just reading about a “babysitting circle” that some friends put together. Each parent takes all the kids for a couple hours once a week (or whatever timing works for your group). That way, everyone involved gets a few breaks per week and one day of watching a few kids. Hopefully I explained that well enough for you to understand. I wish I remembered which blog I was reading.

    • I’ve read about this when we I was pregnant with Aerin and researching nannies to help out with Claire because the pregnancy was difficult. The trouble is that I do not have mommy friends in the area — all the ones I would trust with my kids is at least a 30-45 min drive away! So, until I can actually find the time to make some mommy friends in our neighborhood, this idea will have to stay on the backburner.

  3. wen:

    Are you sure you can’t afford a nanny? It should be a LOT cheaper than $4500/month. I know a friend who is paying her live-in $500/week. Granted, a live-in is cheaper b/c you’re paying for her room&board, but I can’t imagine that even a regular nanny for 2 kids would be more than $700-800 a week. My neighbor has a full-time babysitter that she pays $12-15/hr for one kid, and $4/hr for an additional kid (and we live in Manhattan).

    I would say if you can just hire a p/t babysitter to come over for a few hours a week, it would make a huge difference/help.

    • The problem with a nanny is that my husband is VERY against leaving our kids and our household to someone he doesn’t completely trust (I know, I’ve tried to reason with him). We’ve thought about leaving the kids with a sitter who can watch the kids at their home while I go to work, but the price for a trustworthy sitter is still pretty exorbitant in our neighborhood. (At least $3,500/month for both kids.) Another option is using an illegal, but we’re not comfortable with that.

      For this reason we are definitely looking into p/t babysitters and mother’s helpers who can come around while I am home.

  4. JMeg:

    When I was having my third, I looked into this. Might be a cool way to keep a lot of culture around, too. http://www.aupaircare.com/host-families/welcome

  5. Perhaps you could find a mother’s helper at your church- or the church of a friend or family member. When I was too young to babysit on my own, I helped out with childcare at my church and several families “found” me there to be a mother’s helper, and later a babysitter when I was old enough.

  6. Molly P:

    I have no words of advice, only empathy. Mine are 17 months apart. I think I’ve blacked out the first year with both. The sleep deprivation….the vigilance….the constant demand. I left the keys in the car, car running, I left the keys in the front door, I left the keys on top of the car all night, etc. I could not function. But, I did get through it. One day at a time. One hour at a time. I mean, there’s no choice, right? And now that they are 19 months and 3, it’s so much easier. They are best friends. I’d even say it’s becoming great. But I feel your pain.

    I sleep-trained at 6 months and forced naps at the same time every day, which eventually gave me an essential window of me-time and break each day. I recommend it.

    • I had to smile when I read your comment, because I have been known to leave things in completely random places when I am tired and stressed! (For example, my glasses in the microwave oven.) I too, keep telling myself that I just need to get through it one day, one hour, and sometimes even one minute at a time. And that the first year or two will be really tough, but that it will get so much better after that. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. I don’t have any advice either but I know you will sort it out!!! You can do it Mama!!! xoxoxo

  8. Helene:

    my hubby and i bought a flat which is 5 mins away from my parents’. after i gave birth to my baby (who is 1 month younger than claire), i reckoned i had made the best decision about the location >,<

    i'm in hk so i can't possibly give you any advice about the situation on your side. but still i do understand how hectic it must be for you. hang in there. you have our prayers and support!

  9. Michelle:

    Do you have friends with kids in daycare? Their daycare teachers can be good sources for nanny recommendations. My twins share the same birthday as Aerin and my oldest (32 months) goes to daycare. We are financially tight while I am out on maternity but 3 weeks ago, made provisions to hire a part time nanny who comes in 2x a week for a few hours each time. Even that little bit should help. My part time nanny used to work at the daycare that my oldest goes to and had taken care of my oldest as well. Besides that and my husband who works from home, I don’t have any help. Evenings and weekends can be rather challenging. While your inlaws are still here, you may want to just interview some nannies just in case. Even if you may not use them, at least you have a few potential candidates lined up. A good place to start might be care.com. Hang in there and Good luck!

  10. Kate:

    Thank you for this post!!! My first is Claire’s age and I am due with #2 in May. And I’m scared. We live in Germany so any long term help from family is out of the question… However we were just told that our eldest got a coveted spot in a German-Russian (ha, we are neither!) nursery and could start next month. I am struggling with the decision due to guilt, but hearing about how difficult it would be to do it on my own with two babies makes me think I should go for it. It is state subsidized so cost isn’t an issue. What do you think? Will I be glad for the relief? Being a mom to one has been a challenge for me from the start. (By the way, have you read “Bringing Up Bebe”? I highly recommend it. I really wish the US had better child care options.)

  11. Austyn:

    Jenny, I don’t have any real advice, as I only have one 12 month old (but I’m hoping to get a second bun in the over asap), but I’d like to recommend a product that I’ve loved: Expandable baby gates.

    I have 2 sets of the North States brand. They’re portable and rearrange-able for your space. I currently have then set up in our living room so it’s basically a giant playpen. It’s a safe place that I can put my kiddo in for independent play, but it’s also nice just to go in there to play with him too, knowing that I won’t have to constantly reinforce boundaries and tell him “no”, as I would in other areas of the house. When I get home from work, we usually have some playtime in there together, and he hangs out in there with plenty of room to walk and play while I make dinner in the adjoining kitchen. Believe me, we do a lot of exploring inside and outside, but I personally find telling him no in a consistent and calm way (which is how I want to do it) pretty exhausting. I can only imagine that it is more so while trying to tend to the needs of a young infant. The play yard cuts me a break from that I allows me to enjoy him more.

    Anyway, you’re probably well aware of this contraption, but I just wanted to share in case it helps you in some way. It’s been a life saver for me.

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