As first-time parents, deciding on childcare for our infant, Ruby, was one of the most panic-inducing decisions of our lives.
We both work full time in jobs with odd hours (My wife is a nurse working primarily 12-hour shifts and I am a non-profit fundraiser with occasional night and weekend responsibilities), and with no immediate family in the area to fall back on, we knew whatever care we choose for our daughter was an important decision.
The closer the end of my wife’s maternity leave we got the more nervous I got. Before my wife went back to work, the longest both of us were away from our daughter at the same time was about three hours with close friends watching her for us.
My wife’s leave ended two weeks before our au pair arrived, and I couldn’t take any additional time off, so we called in the reinforcements in the form of my mom (who lives halfway across the country). The first day we left my mom to take care of Ruby by herself I was worried all day, and I am literally living proof that she can take care of a baby. Two weeks later my wife dropped off my mom at the airport and picked up our Au Pair, who arrived in the US for training just days before.
For the next 4 days, we did as much as we could to help her get acclimated to our home and baby’s routine. The first day I left the house with no one but our au pair watching Ruby, I spent my hour-long commute in the least healthy way possible worrying about everything bad that could happen.
And then at 10:51 AM, my phone buzzes. It’s a message from our Au Pair, Lua. “Someone here says hi” with picture of our baby smiling. 9 minutes later, another picture of Ruby drinking from a bottle captioned “Okay, let me go back to my milk.”
It was in that moment at 11:00am that I knew things were going to be okay.
The rest of the day included: a photo of our dog sleeping outside our nursery, and no fewer than 4 photo (with caption) updates on our baby.
And every day since, Lua is sending us picture updates of Ruby drinking from her bottle, smiling, rolling over, or playing with her toys. She also sends us picture updates of our dog laying in the sun, playing, or snuggling. Lua also spends time reading with Ruby, playing with appropriate developmental toys, holding her close in the baby carrier, taking her for walks, and strength training on her play mat. Ruby is now rolling over multiple times in one sitting, which is in part due to the dedicated time Lua spends with her!
Not only is Lua teaching our daughter, she is also teaching us some words and phrases in her native language of Portuguese. She is patient with us and encourages our accurate pronunciation. She has been appreciative of all the experiences we have been able to do together, including playing board games, going out to restaurants, exploring local attractions, and inviting her to our extended family’s home for the holidays. We mostly just enjoy the evenings chatting with Lua and learning about her culture and life back home in Brazil. Now, we have discovered we have similar tastes in food and music. We have all bonded so quickly in a short period time and Lua has become family to us.
We know that our daughter’s life has changed for the better in the simple interactions between the two of them.
On Lua’s days off, our daughter will turn her attention to Lua when she walks in the room and reach for her, squealing. Lua will excitedly speak to her and you can just sense their close bond. Lua also clearly celebrates Ruby’s successes with words of encouragement and excitement. We see this in messages over the phone and in person.
We are eternally grateful for the connection Lua and Ruby are building. Without Lua, we would wonder if our daughter was receiving enough attention and love. We imagine Ruby would not be advancing as quickly as she is physically or mentally. We are thrilled we chose an au pair over a daycare. The one-on-one care Ruby receives would not be possible in any other situation. And Lua goes above and beyond to help our baby develop and thrive. We are confident our daughter feels safe and loved when she is in Lua’s care.