Our daughter was placed in an in-home daycare when she was 12 weeks until about two weeks ago. Let’s say the woman in charge’s name is Maleficent.
We met with her while I was pregnant. Her home was set up beautifully– like it was meant to be a daycare. She had a nice carpet, games, toys, books, and no television. There was an abundance of stimulating colors and sounds. The best part was that it was two minutes away from our home and it was not super expensive. She claimed to have 20 years’ experience, seemed super nice and approachable, but wasn’t too eager for our business, which I liked. On paper, everything looked great.
I left the house and looked at my husband. “I feel like that was great.”
“Same! I think that a good option.”
“But I feel like it’s not going to work out…”
“Oh yeah? Why do you think that?”
“No reason, just a gut thing.”
A gut thing wasn’t sufficient enough reason to say no to such a good setup. We both decided it was the best option for her–fewer babies in a home means fewer germs. Plus, she’s super close by.
So, time went on. I had a 50 hour labor. Our beautiful baby was born. I had an amazing maternity leave and when she was 12 weeks old, we sent her into the she-devil’s lair.
Things started of swell. She sent us pictures, she’d give us gifts and advice on Emerson. We thought we had a great lady in our corner.
The issues really started when Maleficent began complaining about our daughter’s spit-up. She told us it was too much for a girl her age. We understood–she did spit up a lot. So, we took her to the doctor.
“It’s not affecting her growth. She’s quite energetic, so perhaps it’s just how much she moves after she eats. Try settling her down.”
That sounded plausible to us. We told the daycare.
“Well that’s just crazy. You need a new doctor. I have brothers-in law who are doctors. I know.”
“Well, thank you for your advice, but we went to our actual doctor. Let’s just try this and see how it goes.”
As time went on, our daughter’s spit-up decreased a bit at home, but still existed. She continued to be a happy, energetic baby.
“You need to take her to the gastroenterologist.” Maleficent consistently texted us. So, I took her to the doctor again.
“Try slowing down her feedings after one or two ounces. She’s growing and looks great!”
So we did. We slowed down her feedings. Spit-up was almost completely gone. When we told the daycare she responded with, “Why, that’s just crazy. She’s the slowest eater I have.”
I looked at her. “Well…I know she can eat an eight ounce bottle in five minutes. I think we should try this and see how it goes.”
She stared at me, “You don’t see her as much as I do.” RED FREAKING FLAG. But I thought, no, this is just an issue with me. I don’t care how mean or rude she is to me, as long as she takes care of my baby, right?
“That’s true, but I did take her to the doctor. Please take breaks every two ounces.”
Emmie would come home constantly with spit-up on her. I figured Maleficent wasn’t slowing down the feedings. When I asked her about it she said, “You all just aren’t doing what’s best for her.”
I felt so guilty. I want to do what’s best for my child every time. So, we put her on anti-reflux medicine. Her spit-up was still minimal and manageable at home, but maybe we were doing something wrong.
It wasn’t just the spit-up she made us feel guilty about. She bombarded us about starting solids. When I told her we were waiting for the doctor’s go-ahead (she was 5.5 months at this point), she told us we weren’t feeding her enough. When we asked her to increase her formula feedings to every three hours, she responded with, “No. Her schedule is every four.”
I continued to question myself. As a new parent, I trust the guidance of experienced moms, especially a childcare provider. Was schedule more important? Isn’t it important that we listen to the doctor?
At six months old, we got the go-ahead to try solids. The daycare provider did not want to have solids at her house because she “didn’t want to be responsible for that.” That’s fine, I thought. We’re taking it slow anyhow.
Things progressively made us more anxious and paranoid about our parenting skills. She would send passive-aggressive texts about how our daughter was wearing “just a onesie” when it was hot outside and how she “prefers outfits.” Fine, we’ll put her in outfits. We then got a text message telling us our daughter was “really” sick–low-grade fever, continual bowel movements, fussiness, the whole nine yards. She texted my husband to pick her up by 3:30.
At 2:41, she texted him: “I have babies sleeping. When are you getting here?” He was four minutes away.
He picked her up, took her to the doctor immediately, and waited impatiently for the results. Everything was fine. She was smiling and bouncing and happy.
Perhaps the daycare lady was just mistaken, right?
Along with continual texts about the babe’s spit-up, which, once again, was almost nonexistent at home, we had a discrepancy about summer pricing. As a teacher at a private school, I work some hours in the summer, but not full-time. We changed our schedule with her in the summer, and I therefore believed that our prices would be different (also per a conversation we had prior to starting). When she charged us the same price, I called to discuss things with her.
She became irate and defensive, telling me I’m putting words in her mouth.
“I NEVER said that the pricing would be different.
“Maleficent, you did, but if that’s your policy, we’ll abide by it.”
“I NEED CONSISTENCY, I NEED CONSISTENCY.”
“Okay…please tell me when we’ve been inconsistent so I’ll know for next time.”
“I DIDN’T SAY YOU’VE BEEN INCONSISTENT. I SAID I NEED CONSISTENCY. DON’T PUT WORDS IN MY MOUTH.”
“When you continuously say you need consistency, it implies that we haven’t been consistent. Why else would you say you need consistency? It would be a moot point if we’re already being consistent…”
“THAT’S NOT TRUE! And I NEEEVVVEEERRRR SEE YOU! I ONLY SEE YOUR HUSBAND BECAUSE HE ALWAYS HAS TO PICK YOUR DAUGHTER UP!”
That’s when I felt the guilt pang so deeply, I shut her down. Yes, my husband does often have to do the heavy-lifting with our daughter. It’s hard to be a teacher and in graduate school. Yes, it’s my decision, but it’s for our family. And it’s none of her business.
“I’m going to stop you right there. I’m going to go and let you calm down while I take care of my daughter. We’ll talk later.” Her end of the phone hung up.
I continued to believe that it was just me she was having the problem with. She seemed fine with my husband and my daughter still seemed happy. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that shit hit the fan.
My husband called me, telling me Maleficent was extraordinarily annoying.
“Apparently the babe needs growth hormones.”
I started shaking. “She said what?”
“Yeah, she said the babe needs growth hormones. She also mentioned that we aren’t feeding her. Also, she was gossiping with me about another mom and how dirty their child was. She joked about how she gave the baby a bath.”
At that moment, I called another daycare we’d been looking at to see how soon they could start. I was irate, in tears. Growth hormones?! My daughter is not even eight months old. Gossiping about other mothers and giving babies baths without permission? I left work, texted Maleficent telling her that I was going to pick my daughter up.
When I picked her up, she had my daughter in her carseat on the porch while she hid behind her door. “She just woke up,” said Maleficent. “You came during her nap.”
“Great. I’ll be calling later.”
I texted her to see when we could talk. She responded with, “Consider this your three weeks’ notice to vacate from daycare.”
I responded, “If it were unclear, today was her last day.”
She wrote us a letter. I wrote her a letter. Ours to her said, “Our last day of your daycare will be June 16th, 2017.”
Hers to us: We need parenting classes, don’t feed our child, and neglect our baby. We don’t care enough about her and despite our terrible parenting, she has managed to thrive under Maleficent’s care.
Our daughter is in a new daycare where she thrives. She has no bouts of spit-up, she is advanced, makes friends, and is allowed to wear onesies. In fact, they said, onesies are better for crawling. She’s getting chunkier every day. We pick her up, and she crawls with glee towards us.
Please moms, go with your gut. Don’t let what looks good on paper be more persuasive than your intuition. You know best.