Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Nanny Tales: The Language Barrier

This post almost pains me to write because of the emotion is so fresh and raw.  (I like to ignore things that really bother me.  Excellent coping skill!)

Background: Before hiring our nanny, I did a half-day trial and everything went well, although I realize that's not enough time to learn anything at all. Then before I went back to school, we had a couple of half days and a full day together.  She watched me feed Dylan, make bottles, put him to sleep, etc.

I'm also pretty anal and I write everything down.  So I have a notebook where I've put important information for her.

Right from the start, I felt like Dylan's bottles were weird when I got home.  I normally have two separate bottles of pre-mixed formula and fortified breast milk that I mix into Dylan's bottle.  But there were never the two larger bottles in the fridge.  I figured she had run out.  But then sometimes the consistency of his milk was weird.  Usually, too thin.  I suspected she was using all breast milk.  So I went over the 50% mixture with her and I thought we were good.  She said she understood.

I had discussed bottles with her at least two times before last Friday and every time she said that she understood.  And she said it in such a way that I was completely confident that she did, in fact, understand.

Then last Friday, I came home and found 4 bags of frozen breast milk (empty) in the trash.  That totaled about 28 ounces of breastmilk.  Dylan eats 15 ounces MAX when he is with her, so only 7-8 ounces of actual milk since the rest is formula.  I was extremely pissed.  Livid actually.  I quit pumping at the beginning of last week and was hoping to get almost to January with frozen milk. I kind of felt like we were running out too quickly, but I just figured I was less on top of the situation because I wasn't at home.  So on Friday I realized for the first time that she was using all breast milk!

1) She was using the breast milk WAY faster than I had planned.  I spent 11 months creating this stockpile and I'm extremely upset to have it just slip away.  I know Dylan got the milk either way, but it's frustrating to have something that you have spent so much time deliberating about and thinking about just slip through your fingers.

2) Dylan liked the consistency of the mix we were giving him.  She was feeding him a much thinner solution and therefore he was eating less, therefore, he gained less weight for the first month she was with him.  This makes me angry and I feel so responsible for not figuring it out and fixing it earlier.

3) He is supposed to be getting 24 calories an ounce.  I'm pretty sure at times she has used breast milk like water, meaning she added an entire scoop of formula to 50mls.  OMG!  So maybe these super high calorie bottles evened out the lesser?  But typically a baby will eat less volume if the calories are too high.  So basically I have no idea what calories he's been getting.

I feel extremely responsible for not spelling things out in better detail and having detailed descriptions above the area where we store the formula and bottles.  I should have done it.  The only reason I didn't is because she always seemed so confident!  She watched me and read my notes and told me that everything was great.  She has really misrepresented the amount of English that she understands.  I have no problem with her asking me 100 questions a day.  But I have a HUGE ISSUE with her not asking questions when she doesn't understand.

So now I really don't know if I can trust her. I know I can fix this milk issue.  Mr. GG is going to show her (again) this morning.  Or I could make all of it all of the time, but I don't think that will be necessary.  But what will be the next thing that she doesn't understand?

I'm going to give her another chance.  I do think she takes good care of Dylan, but my radar is beyond up.  : /


  1. I would go over it with her again too, in a few days. I'd also convey that you want her to ask questions if she isn't sure what to do. She may be shy about her English which might be all right spoken but not written and maybe she's hesitant to make that known. I find that complex stuff like that takes some time to get used to and no matter how self-explanatory I think it is, it is not so self-explanatory (say for my spouse).

    1. I agree and this is party why I'm frustrated. I work with (teach) English learners every day. I feel like I should have known better! But I can still work on it.

  2. Is there anybody that can help translate? It is super-frustrating that she did it wrong, not so much that she didn't understand but that she felt it was better to nod and smile than to be sure she had it write. I would definitely worry about giving her other instructions in the future. But if you like her overall, it would be ideal (although maybe not feasible) to find someone to translate super-important things for her. Sometimes at work I've written things down and used Bing Translator rather than speak to people orally. Maybe you could do that?

  3. I think I would prepare the bottles myself in this situation. It doesn't fix The Big Problems of trust and communication that are going on, but it fixes the concrete problem of your worrying about him being fed properly -- and hopefully by taking that off the table, you can more globally evaluate how the nanny is (or is not) working out.

  4. I'm not sure if this helps things, but I don't let anyone else touch N's day care bottles. I get them ready every day and have been doing it for 7 months. Not husband, not mom. (Although I'd trust my mom to follow instructions - husband highly questionable) the fact is that you are the mom, you know best and no one can take care of Dylan better than you can. When you need something (like this) done right, just do it yourself. I completely understand re the precious freezer supply, too.

  5. OMG. I am so frustrated for you. I am the same way about breastmilk. I'm leaving D with my MIL this weekend and I am giving her explicit instructions on what to thaw and when to use it because I barely have any stash in the freezer and pumping is FREAKING HARD WORK. You have every right to be upset. I would probably prepare the bottles myself too and that way you can take that stresser off of yourself and focus on everything else.

  6. We had a feeding issue when MIL looked after LO. She feed her an hour early for some reason. So instead of being able to pump when I got home to replace I had to feed LO. It was a (avoidable) mistake but oh it burned. I only had 4 bags in the freezer and had taken 2 out for that day. Nothing hurts quite like wasted breast milk. I hope the nanny can figure it out for you.