Ugh. Where to start. I put Meg and Andy in the same daycare last week. It's one friends have gone to for years so it came recommended. It had the added advantage of being close by and being a place that would accommodate both kids.
When Andy was a baby, he went to a in-home daycare, basically a babysitter that watches several kids out of her home. I found her through an agency that regulates these types of daycares locally and I liked what I saw. It wasn't perfect, but she was nice, kind and good to Andy. The thing I didn't like about it was that it was out of a home, and thus I couldn't pop in at a moment's notice without barging through the door to really to see what was happening. I felt like I didn't really know what he did all day and that worried me, but every day, he came home happy and fed.
The good part was as he got older, we never had an issue of separation anxiety. He was always happy to see her, which made it easier for me (turns out, in many ways this is all about ME). I still went through periods of worrying (I like to worry, it turns out), but generally it was a good experience. After two years, the time came when I was ready for him to have more of a preschool experience with other kids, art projects, etc. so we switched shortly after his second birthday.
When looking for care for Meg, I was really focusing on something that would have both kids. That was mostly for my convenience, but I liked the idea that he could tell me what she couldn't. Turns out in a center, the classes don't mingle at all so they never saw each other. It also turns out in a room full of babies, someone is always crying, often lots of someones. And with so many babies, they had to leave the lights on. It seemed Meg was coming home tired from not napping all day. The final straw was when I went in Monday and she was crying, well, wailing. She had actually gotten past protest crying, past mad crying to that sad exhausted crying. To be fair, she had spit up her entire lunch and seemed to have a tummy ache, but the chaos that was in there made me very uncomfortable. I panicked. I sat with her for about 20 minutes calming her down and I watched the room. I didn't like it any better as I sat. She seemed exhausted so I took her home. And cried. A lot.
I talked to my friends, I talked to Bjorn, I talked to my boss, I talked to my family and after obsessing for two days, I decided to take her out of there. It's probably fine, but at the end of the day, I decided that my gut was telling me it wasn't right for us and I'm going to try to listen to it.
I'm now back to researching in-home providers, that's right, exactly what I said I didn't want. The advantages I'm finding are the one caregiver aspect, the home setting, the idea that someone might love my baby close to as much as I do. The downside, of course, is there's less oversight and it involves trusting one person with my precious baby. I know, obsess much?
After calling around, I found a nice woman in my neighborhood (conveniently located between Andy's school and home) who is licensed, caring, has a nice family and a clean home. It felt more like if I was leaving Meg at my sister's house than an institution. She listened to me when we talked about what I'd like for Meg and she comforted my neuroses and was nice when I teared up a little (I know, I'm a HUGE dork, but that's not really a surprise). We're trying it out tomorrow to see if we like each other.
I swear, this parenting shit is hard. I just want their to be a right answer, you know, rather than a ton of possible answers, all of which are kind of right and you have to figure out the one that's most right. It's like the reason I don't like crossword puzzles -- it's not like a true/false statement, rather the question is, "Name a Kentucky Derby winner" and you have to find the one that's 16 letters rather than just naming the 2008 winner.