Nanny is Pregnant

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I just learned that my 20 month old son's nanny is pregnant, which means that she will stop caring for him sooner than we had planned (we were going to wait until he was three). I'm devastated, mostly because she is wonderful and my son loves her passionately, but also because I hadn't expected to have to face the preschool search quite so soon. If my calculations are right, he'll be two years and five months when the baby's born in December, but I don't know if his nanny will want to keep working right up to the last moment. I have many, many questions about how to face the transition and I'm wondering what others have experienced. Here are some questions:

- how do you prepare a toddler for the end of one of the most important relationships in his life? I'd always hoped that she would continue to babysit for him one afternoon or evening a week after he started preschool, because they love each other so intensely. But with a new baby, she's going to have plenty of other things to do, at least for the first couple of months.

- since many preschools don't take children under two and a half or three, does it make any sense to find a new nanny for a few months? I hate to have him form a new bond only to have it end as well, but I don't want to limit the choice of preschools either, or to send him to preschool before he's ready (of course I have no idea how ready he'll be 8 months from now). He's not a terribly outgoing person, although he's very relational -- that is, he really likes to play WITH other kids and is very interested in seeing what other kids are doing. At the same time, he's very gentle and cuddly, likes to be held a lot, and really likes a lot of one on one interaction, which is why I'd planned to wait until he was older to send him to preschool.

- I also wonder what to expect of his nanny as she goes through her pregnancy. I was pretty energetic during mine, and she's very young (23) but everyone's different. I wonder how well she's going to be able to keep up with him, how long she realistically will be able to keep working, etc.

I'd love to hear from anyone who's had a pregnant nanny about how it went, what a good employer can do to make things work, etc. Thanks for any advice!

When our baby was very little we found ourselves in a situation where the only person we could find to hire was 6-months pregnant. She was in her late 20s and seemed very healthy. She worked up until about a week or two before the birth, and there was no problem.

I will say, however, that she did get tired toward the end. This was not a problem, because we had an infant and they would nap together on the couch. If your child doesn't nap and your nanny works long hours, you might want to think whether there is a friend that could watch your child for an hour or so in the afternoon in case the nanny needs to rest.

Another thing to think about as the date gets closer is to have a plan for what will happen if the nanny needs to go to the hospital while she is still working for you, both in terms of her, and who will be able to step in and watch your child on quick notice.

In terms of figuring out what to do next, my advice, having been through the stress of finding childcare three times since my 16 month old was born, is to be optomistic and also figure out what you want. If you think you would like the nanny to come back after 6 weeks or 3 months, let her know that and that you appreciate and value her. Obviously it would be a challenge for her, but that shouldn't mean that you shouldn't ask her if you think it could work. Others on the list would probably have info on how well it works when the nanny herself has a child. Good Luck, Amy

It seems to me the first thing to do is to talk with the nanny about her expectations, if you haven't already. Does she want to stop working after she has the baby or would she want to continue after a break? Does she plan to stop working at some point before the birth, or work until birth? If she would want to work until close to the birth and come back with her child, how would you feel about this? It's certainly possible--any full time mother with two children close in age does this. If this is the plan, you would need to consider, with the nanny, what kind of interim care would work. She may have friends who could help out--(for example other nannys who could take a second child for a temporary period).

If the nanny will not be working once she has a child, then you are looking for new daycare, sooner or later. If you think your child is better suited in terms of his personality to one-on-one or small group care, then I would stick with the plan to postpone preschool another year. You also might consider something in between--a shared care situation with one other family (something that worked very well for us over the years) or a small family daycare. Remember, once preschool starts, you are most likely in for a year of frequent illnesses. We tried a pre-school type setting for our oldest at 18 months and I stopped it within two months (my kid averaged 1-2 days/week absent, and then I missed a business trip because of strep throat). I kept the younger ones with a sitter until they were 3, they got through their illnesses thanks to the older ones bringing it in, and by the time they got to preschool, they had much more resistance to illnesses.

The more advance notice you have for planning the transition the better for him. Once your plans are made, you can talk about it (believe me, he'll understand), and hopefully your current nanny can participate (being with him in the new situation at first, for example). Also, it really helps to have visits with the nanny after she leaves her working position, so they know she still cares, hasn't disappeared, etc., and more generally that people who leave can come back in another way. Good luck.

I don't have any answers regarding the pregancy aspect of your question, but for what its worth can tell you that we had to switch my son to preschool sooner than we planned becasue of a nanny's sudden quitting. He was just under 2.5, and we were going to wait til 3 too. I must say, I was a wreck, sure that he would be overwhelmed and traumatized by the switch from individual care to a group setting. But, he loved it, and really thrived. It was much harder for me than him. I too was also worried about him never seeing a nanny again who he had been so close to, but that was not as much an issue for him either. He mentions the nanny still, (after over a year) but didn't seem nearly as upset as I was by the loss of someone who was so important in his life. He seems happy to talk about her, and she is still sometimes a character in his stories, but doesn't seem to mind not seeing her and has never cried for her or shown any upset over not seeing her. Ann

My daughter's time with her nanny also ended abruptly when she was two, which like you, was not the plan (I had expected to keep her till three). But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The hard part was finding a preschool at the last minute. But there are lots of good ones out there that take two year olds, so that shouldn't deter you from looking. We got lucky and got into a great place, but we had a very rough transition (however, now I can't get her to leave when I go to pick her up! ) And I can she has grown from the experience; she is much more socially adept (due to her age too, no doubt); shares more, takes turns etc.

And I too thought she would go through withdrawl or something when her nanny left. She barely noticed it, maybe in my case because she was so stressed at the transition. She was verbal enough at the time to be able to tell me what she was feeling and she did not really mention her nanny. Who knows. Anyway, one thing I did was to have the nanny go with her before she started a couple of times, then the first couple of weeks, the nanny picked her up after half days until we went to full days. A side note; my daughter only goes three days per week, and I don't know if that might be a consideration for you.

You wondered about having another nanny before preschool at three....we did too, but felt that our daughter really was ready to hang out and socialize with other kids. We did pick a small school though to help. I think it would have been just as hard for her to transition to another person vs. another school, and like you, I didn't want to have to go through it again. You have to consider your child's temperment in this decision.

So like I said, it was a blessing in disguise, and we couldn't be happier with how things turned out! Good luck with your decision. hilary

I wouldn't worry too much about the effects of forming a bond with a new caregiver for a few months and then starting preschool. From what I've heard, it doesn't scar them to have people coming and going, as long as you're constant. (My kids have had over a half-dozen part-time caregivers in the past 4 years, and haven't seemed upset by it, except for missing one of them, who we try to see every month or so.)

One option that might suit your needs is to try a toddler program. I've heard good things about Tricia Winkelman's, and I know there are others. They're usually designed for 2 year olds, as a transition from home care to preschool. You might even be able to phase out your nanny over the course of the fall as you phase into the toddler program. Maybe try calling some preschools in your area and get their recommendations. Good luck! S. Martin

Our babysitter got pregnant when my twin boys were about 20 months old. She had been our babysitter at that point for about a year and the boys were very attached to her. Originally she wanted to continue with us and bring her baby to work with her which we agreed to consider. I agreed to drive her to her doctor appointments, etc., to make it easy for her to work and take care of herself. Unfortunately, a few weeks into this arrangement, she began showing up late on a repeated basis and not returning from her doctor appointments on time. I think she had decided that she really didn't want to return after the baby was born (which we agreed with because then I would need three car seats for all of us to go anywhere during the day and there isn't enough room in my car). Ultimately, she ended up leaving early and we hired another sitter. She left quite abruptly and even though she was close with the boys, she refused to see them, continue part time babysitting or even say goodbye. Pretty much the worst transition scenario you could think of. So I was nervous when the new sitter started that there would be a problem. The new sitter came over a few times just to play before she started so they knew her. The first morning, our new sitter woke them up and one of my sons cried. By the second morning, the three of them had a new routine and by the end of the week, it was like she had always been there with them. Now, they would not even remember the prior sitter if they saw her. My point is that you would be surprised how well young children do with transition when faced with it.

As to what I had planned for the ideal situation, we thought that our sitter should work up to a set point in advance of the due date and that we would agree together that she would stop at that time. This would allow us to plan for hiring of a new person. We thought 6 weeks before the due date would have been good with a 1 week overlap where we would pay both people but get the benefit of a smooth transition with sitter 1 training sitter 2 in which foods/toys/books/programs were their favorites. Although we were not able to do that, I still think it would have worked out great.

In terms of your preschool question, a lot of people send their kids to preschool at 2.5 years and they do fine but I decided to wait until they are 3 yrs, 3 months (so they will go this Fall 3 days a week for half days). I didn't see any reason to rush them into preschool when they are going to go to school for the next 20 years or so. This also gave me the option of sending them to schools that requrie kids to be potty-trained. At 2.5 years, I could not have done that so I had more options. Right now, most preschools seem to be full for the Fall so you may have a hard time getting one you like that is close by and has the hours you need anyway. If you hire a replacement nanny in November or December, she would be with your child for 9 months which is fine and at that point the child will understand that they're going to school now and only need a sitter part time if at all. Best Regards, Shannon

On your third question, I'd suggest you begin working on the alternative, or at least a backup plan, immediately. You should be straightforward with your nanny about this. I hired a nanny for my newborn twins, who it turned out later had just become pregnant, although neither the agency or she mentioned this until about 6 months. We figured she could work until 8 months or so (this was her second and she anticipated an easy pregnancy), so I'd start looking for a new nanny in a month or two. However, a few weeks later she was unexpectedly and immediately put on bedrest, which left us without help with no notice (she and the baby are fine now). She felt bad about not coming back - she knew how much I depended on her, but it couldn't be helped. It was a struggle for us for a while. If it's important that you aren't left without help, I think you should prepare yourself for the possibility that she may not come back *tomorrow*. Talk to your nanny about looking for a new situation as soon as possible. It will also let her off the hook for working up until the last moment - she may want to take it easy or get prepared. Having a backup plan, or an early transition, could help everyone's peace of mind.

I hired a nanny who was3 months pregnant to care for my newborn while I worked at home a few hours a week. I just needed someone to hold the baby and take care of him while I worked upstairs. It worked out perfectly and my nanny was very sweet and loving and totally into new babies since she was expecting her first very soon. I felt that I was helping her out by giving her a little practice caring for a newborn. It was my third so I didn't have the need to hire a super-experienced nanny. She wasn't working anyway - she was caring for the toddler of my housekeeper so was glad for the extra cash for a few months. The nanny's baby was due when my child would be about 6 months old, and I was planning to return to work full-time at that point, so we both agreed right from the start that I'd find another nanny when she had her baby and I went back to work. She was very energetic and enthusiastic during the 6 months she worked for me, and went into labor the day after her last day working for me. Perfect timing! She helped my find a new nanny - her aunt. This is also working out great.