Childrearing

The Catch-22 Of A Pregnant Nanny

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Marissa and Helen’s unconventional setup isn’t for everyone, but it works for them. For many women, however, having a pregnant nanny in the house is in and of itself an awkward scenario.

Kimberly Ross‘ nanny Eva has been with her family since her eldest child Jacob, now 6, was just eight months old. Eva is expecting her first child in January and, as Kimberly explains, “Jacob’s so excited, he thinks he’s getting another cousin!” (He he even calls Eva Tita, the tagalog word for “aunty”).

Although it broke Kimberly’s heart, she and Eva decided that it would be best for Eva not to return to work once the baby’s born. That’s because Kimberly requires a live-in nanny who can work overtime (for pay) – especially evenings while her husband’s at work – and Eva anticipates she won’t be able to fill that requirement. (They’ve already worked out an agreement in which Eva will babysit for Kimberly’s kids on weekends for cash.)

“I lie awake at night thinking, ‘What the hell am I going to do about Simone [my middle child]?’ She is so attached. When we say ‘Goodnight Jacob, Goodnight Baby Sasha, Goodnight Daddy…’ each night at bedtime, Eva always comes before my parents and way before the cousins. She’s family,” says Kimberly.

When Eva announced that she was pregnant, Kimberly said she spent the next 12 weeks coming home to see Eva hunched over the kitchen table, drinking tea and trying not to vomit for the fourth or fifth time that day. Thankfully, Kimberly – who lives in Toronto – was on her own mat leave at the time and so she was around to help out. Had she been at work, she doesn’t know how she would have managed with a sick nanny caring for her three children.

“It’s not like you can ask her to take out the recycling or schlep home heavy bags of groceries after she’s just thrown up. She was too weak even to lift my baby,” explains Kimberly. “Suddenly, I found myself looking after her all day.”

For Jennifer Lee, she felt the same mixed emotions when her nanny, Tasha, gave birth in 2009:

“I brought my girls and visited her in the hospital right after the baby was born. There was Tasha, happy but exhausted, and I spent hours rocking her baby to sleep. It was a total role reversal.”

Tasha came back to work for Jennifer after just five weeks, and Jennifer can remember feeling super guilty about the whole thing. “She was in such a newborn haze, which I remember well from my own kids. She had left her baby with an old woman from her apartment building to come and care for mine, which was awkward. She was hormonal and exhausted and she missed her baby. I remember her pumping [breast milk] at all hours in our bathroom,” says Jennifer. “I didn’t mind, of course, but I felt sick for her. She needed the money but you could just tell she didn’t want to be there.”

Eventually, Tasha gave notice and decided to go back to school. Today she works as a medical secretary – her child is in daycare – and Tasha and her daughter see Jennifer and the girls around three or times a year. “The kids play together like long lost cousins,” says Jennifer.

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