I wrote this on Wednesday and wasn’t sure if I wanted to post it. I’ve found alternate care after I wrote this, and everything is better now. I kind of want to forget it ever happened. I want to erase it from my history, from my memory. But whether or not I put it here, it happened. And, I guess I want to remember it because next time my gut tells me something is wrong, I want to remember to trust myself and my mommy instincts and hopefully avoid making this kind of mistake again.
Monday was my first day back at work. I was lucky… I got 4 months at home with my sweet son.
We found an in-home daycare that I thought would be lovely. My mother used to run an in-home daycare, and those babies were like our own. We loved them and snuggled them and played with them. They always felt so loved. We still keep in touch with some of them… they’re in college now. I thought that’s what it would be like for my son.
But it wasn’t.
The first day, I dropped him off with high hopes. I was sad, but felt okay. The daycare is licensed and the lady said that all of the children that were there had been in her care since they were 3 months old. She has three 4 year olds and a 2 year old. I should have known better that it was too many kids at too wide of an age range.
When I picked him up, he was listless. Limp. Dull eyes. He didn’t even recognize me. He was strapped into a bouncy chair with his arms by his sides and his pacifier in his mouth. He wasn’t even sucking the pacifier. He had no toys. I asked about how he napped and she raved about how he never cried and he took a two hour nap. Behind her, one of the 4 year olds kept saying “he cried and cried and cried and cried and cried…” I know 4 year olds exaggerate, but I have a feeling someone was outright lying to me, and it wasn’t the child. I know my baby. I could see how swollen his face was. He’d been crying for hours.
She said he’d had one diaper blowout, but that it’s normal for breastfed babies. I told her he never has them at home unless he’s in the bouncy chair. She immediately got defensive and said that he can’t be on the floor like at home because of the other children. It’s a safety hazard. So I asked… she let it slip that he’d been strapped into the bouncy seat, with no toys, no way to move, for FIVE HOURS out of the eight that he was with her. FIVE. HOURS. Motionless. Strapped to a chair. No toys.
I asked why he didn’t have toys, and she said she thought he wasn’t old enough yet. What the fuck? He loves putting things in his mouth! He loves toys! I was so heartbroken but I have to work.
So I brought him back Tuesday, even though every part of my mommy instinct was screaming no. I thought maybe I was overreacting. I asked a bunch of mommy friends and they all thought five hours was excessive. So I told the daycare lady that it was unacceptable. That he needed tummy time. That being in the bouncy seat for that long was absolutely unacceptable and if she couldn’t properly care for the number of children in her home, we would look elsewhere for care. She said that he would play in the playpen, then. She assured me everything would be fine.
When I went to pick him up, she went on and on about how he had a “weird” diaper. How he had one weird diaper at the end of the day. I thought maybe I’d eaten something that gave him an upset tummy. She said he’d had a bunch of poops, but that she’d changed every one promptly, but the last one was “weird”. I think she was setting me up for what I’d find later, trying to blame it on something other than her negligence. She said he hadn’t cried again, and that he’d taken two short naps. She lied.
You know how when you sob and sob and sob for hours, you can’t stop for a while? You hiccup for a while? It kind of jerks your body? When I went to pick him up, he was doing that. I know my baby, and I know the only two times he’s done it before were when he was colicky and cried for about five hours in a row. So he must have been screaming for hours yesterday. He kept sobbing in his sleep all night long, waking himself up with the sobs. God my heart is breaking thinking about it.
When I changed his diaper before his bath, he cried a cry that I’ve never heard before. His voice was so sore and hoarse, and he cried when I touched his bottom. After his bath, I saw why. His entire bottom and down the side of one leg was red and raw. He’d obviously been in the bouncy seat and had a blowout. That’s the only reason he’d have it down one leg. And he’d been sitting in it for hours. He’s never had diaper rash in his entire life. One day in that woman’s house and his bottom and leg are raw. He must have been sitting in his own shit, screaming, strapped to a chair, for hours. Oh my god. Oh my god.
I talked to my husband. We told the daycare lady that I’m just “not ready” to leave him with anyone, and cancelled her services. Got a refund for the rest of the time we paid her for. I’m home with baby right now, and we’re checking out a center near my work later today. I visited yesterday and the babies were all happy. Playing on tummies, chewing on toys, just so happy. It made my heart break for my son. My poor, sweet, silly, funny, goofy, snuggly little boy. How could someone neglect him so badly?
My heart is so broken right now I don’t know what to do.