Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lessons From Nanny McVi

Luna Girl (mukha lang siyang boy dito, bakit ba) and Nanny McVi

We weren’t really intending to hire a nanny… one of the reasons why we decided for me to be a stay-at-home-mom was I really couldn’t feel comfortable leaving Luna girl with a nanny for most of the day while I travel 1 hour to work one-way (which is 2 hours back and forth).  Add to the fact that we have no family around to supervise or at least call on within the city (office is 30kms away).  Instead we planned to increase the day the cleaner comes while I manage baby duties.  I mean how hard can it be right?  Baby cries, I respond, she sleeps, we play a little…  I was even afraid I’d get bored.  Bored!  Boy was I wrong!  It is true what they say, I’d have my hands full.  Let’s even just focus on one thing: diaper duties.  Hubby wanted to go with cloth diapering.  I was concerned because of the lack of help but fine it should be manageable.  It actually is when you think about the laundry part but the changing part was incredible.  For the first few weeks I felt I was “reduced” to being peed and pooed on and in a never-ending cycle of changing nappies.  This wasn’t how I imagined motherhood to be!  I was crying to my husband and dreading the day my mom goes home (she flew in for my delivery and the holiday season).  I was even pissed at him, it was his idea to go with cloth (to which he has a different memory of, who is right doesn’t matter, hehe)!  So I gave him a choice: let’s do disposables or hire a nanny.  That evening, hubby told me I have a nanny interview the next day.  That was how he felt strongly about cloth diapering.  Haha!  But seriously I think he saw how much I was struggling.  And maybe he was too.

At first I was a bit guilty.  I mean I quit work to take care of my baby but I let somebody else do it at the end of the day (she’s part-time though, 4 hours a day).  But for my sanity, I needed her.  And for work, she needed us.  We found our nanny from a referral of our officemate.  Her sister-in-law hired her own nanny from a nurse who apparently has a network of nannies. Vimala, Luna’s nanny was a professional babysitter, she had medical experience as a hospital attendant and even had international work experience working in a hospital in Dubai.  I was impressed with her qualifications.  With these qualifications, she was also very knowledgeable about health and safety. She came in with her own uniform (!) and was very well-groomed (i.e. she smelled good and would only touch Luna when she is already in her uniform vis a vis her street clothes).   

Hubby and I also consider a person’s “aura.”  We’re not aura readers or anything of that sort but we would like to have a positive energy around our household moreover our baby!  She is a lovely middle-aged woman, who talks animatedly and who is quite loud.  My kind of woman! 

The true test came when she held Luna.  Luna was comfortable with her immediately.  You could sense a feeling of peace with Luna as she was being held in capable hands.  She is also very observant about Luna, pointing out peculiar things she has observed about her (e.g. a weird birthmark-ish mark on her scalp) and reports any anomalies to me.  Moreover you could see that Vimala was passionate about babies. I know it’s mean to say but at first I felt handling babies was such a chore – goodness even my own!  I didn’t know what to do, I wasn’t effective, how could I enjoy it right?  I mean don’t get me wrong, I love my daughter with my whole heart but that is just different from being happy with how I am taking care of her.  The Tiger Mother, Amy Chua had it right, “nothing is fun until you’re good at it (Chua, 2011, p.29).”  Unfortunately when it comes to taking care of my child, I was not good at it.  NOT YET.  So I vowed to myself that I will make the most of this nanny situation.  I embraced the learning opportunity offered by our Nanny McVi!  I will not just sit back in jealousy seeing how good somebody else is with my daughter.  I will be good with my daughter as well.

In just barely two months I’ve learned so much from her about taking care of Luna.  How to hold her, soothe her, make her sleep, how to wash her bottles and heck, even how to fold her nappy.  How they fold the nappy is pretty cool I tell yah!  In as much as I learn these by observing, asking questions and asking for demonstration, I also take note when she gives me her own inputs and feedback on how things should be done.  She’s the expert and so far she makes sense!  I appreciate it too that she gave me the space to chart the course on how to take care of my daughter.  For one she is already a believer in having a schedule for baby, although I think she was a bit shocked during our sleep training on how detailed the schedule was and how anal I was in implementing it.  Don’t worry people I exercised flexibility, within limits!  And she fully supported me during our bottle re-training bootcamp. 

There were also many things I learned from Nanny McVi about taking care of baby beyond the practical stuff…

First, she always says in her broken English “baby (or baba, baby in Sinhala or babi, maybe her own other way of saying baby, haha) understands.”  True!  Baby understands if she is being held by a person s/he can trust, who knows how to take care of him/her.  Or how you are feeling while holding him/her.  Which brings me to my next point.

Chillax.  Be calm and secure.  Babies need security and with your touch, you can say, “baby, you’re safe, relax.”  How she holds Luna and how she gently sways to calm her down are all done in a very chill manner.

And related to my last point, chillax, you are not a bad mother just because you get a nanny.  It is ok to admit that you need help especially if you’re a first timer because taking care of a baby is a skill that can be learned.  It is a very specialized competency I must say as with being a mother, you can’t just be a good baby sitter just like that.  And if providing your baby the best care means getting a nanny, then so be it. 

Hiring Nanny McVi is one of the best decisions we’ve made (crossing my fingers this statement will hold true until we leave in August).  For Luna because she does have the best care – from Nanny McVi, daddy and me!  For hubby and I as we have the opportunity to learn from an “expert.”  But for me mostly, as we are together everyday, in as much as she is Luna’s nanny, she has become my childcare mentor and friend too.

If you are in Sri Lanka and looking for a Nanny, contact Sister Kern of McCarthy Hospital at 2697760.  *Sister is a title to mean a Senior Female Nurse in the British Nursing Hierarchical System

Chua, A. (2011).  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.  Bloomsbury, UK.  


  1. I love this post! Amen to caring for your child is a skill to be learned... indeed! And Amen to "baby understands." Oh wow, I have yet to cross that bridge where I find someone that I can trust with my two girls (if or) when the time comes... good luck to me and my trust issues, haha! But yes, you'll know when it's right.

    1. Thanks!!! Yes, good luck! I guess we really got super duper lucky! Listen to your gut - you know what to do :-)


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