08:55am – Shay and I would have had our breakfast and begin to start our day. I would turn on my laptop and start working, she’d be on the play-mat cooing at her favourite toy while ferociously sucking her fingers.
But today, it’s different. There is quietness except for the sound of soft jazz from my Sonos. No cooing, no blabbering, no crying, no fussing. No Baby.
You see, I just dropped off Shay at Infant Care and honestly, I feel strange. My stomach feels knotted, but my mind feels carefree and relieved. I feel guilty, yet my mind rejoices with the much desired “Me Time” that I haven’t had in 4 months. The footsteps on the way home are heavy but the imaginary weight on my shoulders are light. Basically, it’s a battle between a heart of melancholic emotions and a head of hopeful optimism.
But while I am guilt-ridden and mulling with feelings from separation anxiety, I told myself repeatedly in my head that I’m not abandoning Shay, and that she is simply going to ‘school’. That ‘school’ was close by, and I could visit her during lunch, loiter around, then come home to work again. That I was blessed and fortunate to place her in an Infant Care just walking distance from my home. That I can still take her out as and when I want, but have this care facility to fall back on if I need to run an errand, go for a meeting, or get a haircut. That even though I’m working part-time, I am eligible for the working mother subsidy which reduces her school fees by half. That Shay is in good hands and in a conducive, air-conditioned environment where she can interact with fellow babies of different ages, and learn from them.
So as I pulled up my big girl panties and bade her goodbye earlier this morning, I was glad that she wasn’t fussing, crying, or looking at me because that would have definitely made me emotional and teary.
But that’s when I realised that more than she needed me, I NEEDED HER.
You see, for the past 4 months I have been caring for her on my own without any help, and having my routines and schedules revolve around her needs. Sure it was tough sometimes, especially on crazy days when she would have a poo leak, I would change her, wash her clothes and bedding, just to find that she had just puked on herself. But she was mostly a good baby; fussing only when she needed to fed, changed, or when she was unwell or uncomfortable. So essentially, caring for her round the clock was the new ‘normal’, and I was used to it.
But 3 weeks ago, the Infant Care centre called and told me that there was a placing and if I was interested. After discussion with the husband, we told the centre that we were interested. Fast forward 3 weeks later, I’m sitting in my living room, typing this lengthy post while my baby is probably having the time of her life in Infant Care.
I guess putting her in Infant Care was an eventuality that I’d have to accept, especially when I go back to work full time. We did consider getting a nanny but I had concerns about the quality of care that a nanny provides, especially those who are more advanced in age and might have bad habits which has been passed down for generations. Whereas for Infant Care, all the teachers are certified and trained to care for babies. Moreover, the cost of a nanny is quite high; definitely more costly than Infant Care with subsidy. We also considered getting a maid since it was the most value-for-money option, because the maid can also help with household chores other than taking care of the baby. However we are not comfortable with entrusting our baby solely in the care of the maid, and our house do not have enough space to accommodate her, so that option was immediately struck off from our list.
Hence, unless money drops from the sky where the husband and I can stay at home full time and take turns to care for her, I guess I just have to make do with this arrangement with Infant Care for now. It’s not the best solution, but it’s the most feasible and affordable option that we can give to Shay. Meanwhile, for the first time in a long time, let me indulge in a short session of self-love by going for a hair-cut followed by having my all time favourite Sliced Fish Noodle Soup – a simple meal which I’ve been longing to have but cannot because the soup might splatter all over Shay when I’m baby wearing her – cos’ I bloody deserve it.
Update: Popped by Infant Care during lunch and received positive feedback from her teachers. They said she was could sleep easily, and didn’t fuss at all when they bottle fed her nor bathed her. She is basically an easy baby! Their words brought much relief to me and I’m glad that she is able to adapt well. She also made eye contact with us (though we tried to secretly observe her from a distance) but didn’t cry for us; not sure if that’s a good or bad thing though. But overall, she seems cheery, and that makes me happy. Happy baby = Happy mummy.