We're getting closer and I can hardly believe it. 31 weeks today and the size of a pineapple. He's growing right on track, I'm doing great, and it seems that there's a dance party/yoga class going on at all times of the day and night in my belly. So many things have been gifted too us, to which we are enormously grateful, and his room is looking more and more like it's ready to have a baby in it!
Among all of the items we have needed to procure, there was one that was riding quite heavily on my mind and, quite frankly, scaring the ever loving broccoli out of me. Finding a daycare provider. As for the other biggies???
Pediatrician? No problem. My doctor practices peds and I signed JP up when I found that out.
Chiropractor? I got one. My chiro practices on infants and will adjust JP as soon as I can get him to him.
Health Insurance? Just sign on the dotted line. Putting JP on mine until we figure out what works better in the long run.
Maternity leave? Done. My dates are flexible since we don't know when he's going to arrive, and all I have to do now is fill out some paperwork, get some signatures, and have it filed away.
Savings for unpaid leave? Accomplished in record time. HUGE load off the shoulders.
Major necessities for JP? Pretty much filled, at least to the point where I know we can get along for a while without having to worry about anything but formula and diapers.
But a daycare provider; now *that* was a tricky one. How do you go about picking someone to take care of YOUR child? Someone whom you don't know from Adam, who you can see developing a good relationship with, and who you can afford?? Truth be told, if we could have afforded the $225/week it costs for the Montessori daycare/preschool just down the street I wouldn't have looked anywhere else. JP would have been enrolled months ago and this would have been nothing but a little blip on the screen. Alas, that is way out of our price range so we had to look elsewhere; but just where do you start?
I began our search by talking with friends of ours who, like us, aren't lucky enough to have family take care of our little boy. A few of them use in-home daycares, a few others use centers. There are pros and cons of each. I heard the horror stories of "Oh she loved the center but was always getting sick", or "We went with this one gal, then a month later left because of this that or the other, then signed up with another, and it wasn't until the fourth one that we really landed where we wanted to be". I also heard "So&so is the BEST! We *absolutely* recommend her, but...she's not taking any more kids right now." It got to be quite disheartening.
What I came to discover was that daycare centers were out of our price range, but in-home care fell right where we could afford it so it was time to start looking. I started on craigslist just reading ads and saving the ones that looked good on paper. From there, Tim and I narrowed down what we were looking for and decided that having someone close to home/in our area, was preferable than someone closer to my school or his work. Then I emailed the ones I liked on paper and awaited responses. It was kind of like a test I threw out there, like the one I gave to Tim when we first met. His test was a simple one I handed to all the men I met. "Bring a couple of your buddies to Free State Brewery on Monday night when I'm working. We take two of our beers, put them on special, and it's a non-pressure situation. If you don't like what you see, you can leave. If I don't like what I see, I can slip out the back door at the end of my shift. Simple." I *always* knew that the one who showed up was going to be worth it. Tim was the only one who ever showed up and passed the test. Not only did he show, but he came BACK at the end of my shift. Yep. He was a keeper.
So I emailed around 30 ladies and asked them all the same questions. What were their rates, did they think they'd have an opening coming November and/or what was the deposit to hold a spot till then, and could we set up a time to meet if we could afford them & they had a spot? I sent out the first emails at the beginning of June then sat back and waited. Each weekend I would puruse craigslist again to find more ads that sounded/looked good on paper, and then would go back to the list to narrow it down. The women who emailed me back ranged in responses from "Sorry, I can't hold a spot that long", to "Yes, I'll have space for your little one, please give me a call so we can set up an interview", to my ever favorite "Ugh, I do NOT take teacher's kids".
What, we have a black mark against us or something? Piss on you!
I lined up a couple of interviews and away I went. I met with the first gal and got a good vibe. Nice duplex, not to far from us, daily schedule for the kids, good mix of ages for JP to grow up around, and she was in our budget. Lady number two was older, which was not a bad thing, and was looking for one infant and possibly a two year old to watch in addition to her impending first grandchild. She was very nice and we had a great chat, but I had some reservations about the money (not tax-deductible), and placing JP in a place where he'd be in direct competition with her new grandchild. So far lady number one was in the lead.
Then I hit a dry patch where I wasn't getting any responses to emails or phone calls and I put it on the shelf for a bit. One morning after my walk @ penguin park and some ball playing with the dogs, I check my email to find two ladies who responded that their spots had filled *but* they provided two phone numbers for women who provide daycare in our area, whom they highly recommend. *Both* of them recommended lady number one. This was looking good so far. I made some more phone calls and had initial chats with ladies on the phone where I hung up thinking "Huh-uh. No way am I going to meet with that one", then I landed on Lauren. We talked for quite a while on the phone and I had a great vibe coming off of her. I set up an interview to meet with her and was pleasantly surprised to find that she is literally minutes down the street from us, which would help with the hustle and bustle of our mornings in getting out the door and on the road to work on time.
I met her three boys, who are absolutely adorable and I'm sure could teach JP all sorts of "boy things", and we chatted for almost two hours. I asked her lots of questions, feeling somewhat silly along the way but hey, I'm a FTM and don't know squat about daycare. She showed me around her home, where the kids spend the majority of their time, bathroom, sleeping area, etc, and the backyard play area. They even have a cutie pie little dog named "Cookie" who I just wanted to bundle up into my purse and take home with me *laugh*.
I finally left for home, armed with two great possibilities for Tim to meet. We went to the first gal's place where he got to ask all the questions he wanted and form his own opinion. I was trying very hard to not influence him in any way other than to let him know I got a good vibe off her and she had come recommended by others. We left there with him saying "Well, I know one thing. I need someone to compare her too". Okay, let's go meet with Lauren.
I took him to Lauren's house and I could tell as soon as we turned onto her street he was more impressed. We walk in and immediately are "assaulted" (I say that in a very good way) by her two youngest boys, the older of which was extremely excited that I was back with the baby (even though he's still in my belly *laugh*). She took us both on a complete tour of their home so Tim could see everything, while explaining her plans for where to put everyone for naps, etc. Showed him the downstairs play area, the backyard (where he got to meet cutie pie Cookie), and the basement bedroom of her oldest. He then started in with his questions and away we went. It was nice just being able to stand and observe everything that was going on. The kids were playing, her husband was interacting with them, the littlest one was playing peek-a-boo with me from the toy cabinet, and she was answering Tim's questions without seeming bothered by his rapid fire inquisition *laugh*.
We left about 45minutes later saying "We'll have an answer for you by the end of this week". Which was the absolute truth because I wanted to get this finished out as quickly as possible due to the fact that band camp and school starting up are on my immediate horizon and once that starts up again I don't want to have to try and figure out how to fit interviews for daycare providers around my busy schedule, which is going to ultimately make me more tired in the mad dash to JP's arrival.
As we got in the car and pulled away, I looked at him and said "So? What did ya think?"
"I like her. I like her a lot. I like the house, those boys are cute as *bleep*, and I really liked how she answered all of my questions without any hesitation unlike lady number one. I especially liked her answer to the question "What do you consider your weakness" because she didn't bullsh!t me." Which I have to agree, she didn't. I gave him my second impression of her and we discussed more on the way home.
After a day or two of sleeping on it, thinking on it, and talking about it, we both decided that this was the home for our little boy. We really feel that not only is JP going to receive excellent care there, but we feel that she and her husband will also be able to help us grow as parents and navigate the pitfalls that will surely ensue. I called her up, told her we want her to take care of our little boy, signed on the dotted line, and turned in our deposit! Such a sigh of relief. Now we just play the waiting game on when he's going to arrive so we know when he'll start being placed in her care. I am fully hoping he stays put until his due date. I need as much time with my new students at school to set classroom policies, procedures, expectations, and rehearsal protocols before turning them over to my sub...but...I know that the *only* person who knows when JP is going too arrive is mister JP himself.
So here's to Lauren and the start of what will hopefully be a long and fabulous relationship. Here's to Tim for asking the questions I didn't think to ask and for using his "Daddy instinct" in his choice, and here's to me for doing all the legwork to bring two great candidates from a pool of many to the table. Bravo everybody, brav-o.