Nanny McFlee

4 Feb

So last week my nanny ‘popped outside to make a phone call’ and never came back. In the middle of the day, from out of nowhere she disappeared. She had taken my son for a walk in his pushchair to get him to sleep as he wasn’t settling in his cot. She brought him back, said she was going outside to use her mobile so she didn’t wake him up and never returned.

She didn’t vanish into thin air. I received a text message from her informing me that she gone outside, seen the bus and got on it to go home. Apparently she had a headache and was almost falling asleep because she had, as she put it, ‘nothing to do or motivate her to stay energetic’. Apparently she was struggling. Apparently I knew this and for the last two days because I had worked at home (my son was really poorly so I thought it would be best if I worked from home) it had meant I had kept her there with nothing to do. Apparently this was unfair.

I should explain.

My (ex) nanny is pregnant. About 20 weeks. According to her, this isn’t something she planned and she only discovered she was when she was 12 weeks pregnant. Or so she says. The pregnancy and whooping cough leaflet I found on the buggy about five weeks after she started must have been someone else’s then…

Our nanny getting pregnant is something hubby and I joked about happening. We laughed about how it would be typical luck for us that we would take on someone to look after our son who then gets pregnant and we end up not only having to re-settle our son with someone else, but also be liable for maternity pay. We should never have tempted fate. Silly us for joking about it.

When she started it was great. I found going back to work incredibly hard and after much searching I really did feel like I had found the right person to look after the most precious person in my life. I liked her manner, the way she was with son, the way she interacted with hubby and I. She came so highly recommended we really did think we had lucked out and for the first five weeks it was perfect. Then something changed.

She came in one day and looked incredibly flustered and distracted. It wasn’t a massive change and most people probably wouldn’t have noticed it, but I did. I did because I was so attuned to everything she did. I had to be. She was looking after my baby, I had to be aware of and notice even the slightest flicker of change in her. I didn’t obsess about it, I know everyone has up and down days and I didn’t expect her to be Mary Poppins. I was sure it was just ‘one of those days’, but I felt uneasy.

By my calculations the moment things changed was when she found out she was pregnant and this was about five weeks after she started. After finding the leaflet we suspected she was pregnant, but we didn’t take it too seriously. I don’t think we really wanted to believe it. So things simply carried on as they were. Me convinced something wasn’t quite right and worrying about it constantly and hubby in total agreement.

I should say that even though something had shifted and we felt there was something she wasn’t telling us, we never once doubted that she was doing a great job with our son. If I had ever had any doubts he was affected by this I would have terminated her employment immediately. He was absolutely fine, it was the rest of us treading on eggs shells.

A few weeks into ‘the change’ hubby and I could no longer take it and sat down with her to talk about how things were going so far; if she was enjoying the job; if there was anything else we could do to make life easier. She totally allayed our fears. She said she was happy, enjoying the job and there was nothing she wanted to change. It was like talking to a different person to the one who had turned up every morning distracted, looking stressed and that she would rather be anywhere else but in our flat. I started to wonder if I was imagining the whole thing.

This relief was temporary as things very quickly went back to us feeling like she wasn’t happy and we were back treading on egg shells. It was driving me mad, but it’s such a tricky situation when this person is looking after your child. I was terrified of doing anything to rock the boat especially when I knew in my heart of hearts that my child was in safe hands and ultimately she was good at her job.

Eventually we were told what we had known for weeks – that she was pregnant.  And even though we had suspected it, that there was a genuine reason for us feeling so uneasy was a relief.

We did what any employer would do. We were 100% supportive, full of congratulations and excited for her. We said that there was no rush to tell us when she wanted to leave, to take Christmas and New Year off and that we could have a discussion in the New Year about an end date.  Obviously this isn’t what hubby and I wanted. I had only just gone back to work, we felt our son was settled with her and the thought of searching for childcare all over again was depressing. But what could we do?  People get pregnant. We took on a 30 year old nanny in a long term relationship – it wasn’t like it was impossible.

Initially she told us she would work until the very beginning of May, giving her almost seven weeks before her due date. Not bad really. Most women work until 38 weeks. I did. But from then on things changed on a weekly basis depending on her mood.

At work one day I received a panic text saying that there was no way she could work until then. This was whilst she was looking after my baby. No phone call, no explanation. To say I felt stressed was an understatement. I replied saying that perhaps we could talk about it when I got home, face-to-face. When we got home we asked why she wanted to leave early and she said she was struggling with pregnancy and felt like she wanted to cry all the time. I get it, I’ve been pregnant, it’s not easy.

We then agreed she would work until the end March. Again, we were supportive, asked a million times if this was okay for her and she was sure that is what she wanted. She agreed. I gave her an extra day off to think about it some more and to come in the following week and let us know for sure. At the same time worrying whether she was emotionally stable enough to look after our child.

Monday arrives and it changes again. She now wants to stop as soon as possible. We finally agree on the beginning of March – 6 weeks (which is the notice period) giving us enough time to find someone else. So we finally feel like we have a realistic date we can work towards. Great. Everything was finally in agreement.

And then she walked out, claiming she was treated unfairly because for the two days I was working at home when my child was ill had left her unmotivated. I would have thought the extra pair of hands would have been a welcome break if she was struggling as much as she claimed.

To say it has been an incredibly stressful few weeks would be an understatement. Actually, the whole experience from start to finish has been really quite difficult. I have never experienced such unprofessionalism from anyone. I get that she is pregnant and I know that can make one incredibly emotional, but I feel it’s irrelevant. She walked out on her job looking after a child without so much as a goodbye to him.

I keep wracking my brains to think of anything we did that was awful, or anything we did that could have made it better. I think the simple fact is she didn’t want to be in the job anymore and rather than tell us, she found it easier to walk out and blame us for ‘not motivating her’.

I almost want to laugh at how absurd the situation is and what a shocker the last few weeks have been. We have now found a child-minder who I think is lovely and who I hope my child can now settle with. It reminds me how difficult finding the right childcare is and how much you have to rely on your instinct. I think it’s this I found so upsetting – I thought mine had been so right.

Luckily our new child-minder is in her 60’s and assures me she won’t get pregnant.

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