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Birth childcare logistics.. what's reasonable to ask of friends?

(49 Posts)
CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 10:08:02

I am 29 weeks with DC4, and we live at the opposite end of the country to all our relatives, so no family support. DC are 7, 5 and 2.

Normally this is just merely annoying, but when it comes to medical emergencies or preterm labour, we're going to have a situation.

I'm getting an ELCS for very definite medical reasons. However despite my medical history of early, as in 35-38 weeks, precipitous labour (being in labour for long would actually kill us both through uterine rupture as the exit is sewn shut!) and my babies all being big for dates and absolutely 100% fine at those gestations, my consultant is not open to an ELCS before 39 weeks. NICE guidelines you know hmm funny how they never apply them to other things. My last consultant at another hospital allowed me 38+2 which I reached.

Obviously that's a concern of sorts, especially as the nearest hospital that could do a c-section (fortunately also my delivery hospital) is 30 minutes away even on a good day.

However the thing that worries me more is childcare logistics. Understandably we don't want DH to miss the birth, but also he'd need to allow at least 90 minutes to get to me in the event of an emergency if he's at work or there is nobody to take the DC.

My mother (or a nanny) will take the DC on the scheduled section date, but if I don't get that far, then what?

We're fairly new to the area, only moved here just over a year ago. My oldest two are at school but only been attending their current one since April and I've not really had a chance to get very close to any of the other parents.

A few have extremely kindly offered to take the older girls in an emergency, which is incredibly kind of them. I'm hoping we can sort something out for DS - we'd probably split the girls so as not to overload anyone and maybe he can go with one of them.

However I don't know how far I can push it. Whilst it's one thing for them to go home from school with them for a few hours, or even on a weekend, what happens if I need somebody at 3am? Or even 9pm?

I am HOPELESS at asking people for favours, I'm a proud sort and feel tremendously guilty asking for help with anything (understatement) and especially as this is DC4 I know people feel we have brought it on ourselves. So to ask people who I don't know very well if they mind being woken up at 3am to take some of my brood.. well, it's a big ask.

I have looked into emergency childcare but they're office hours only to ring, and they'd need a bit of notice. And I don't know how late they'd work either, certainly I can't imagine a nanny that would cover them late into the night even if they were already working. So while it would work out fine for DC3 if I went into labour in the morning or something, it isn't that useful for other times. I also figure there's a chance a nanny could pick them up from the hospital if needs be if I ended up there at 6am or something, but it might be too late by the time one is organised.

So after that essay, two questions:

1) How reasonable of me is it to ask people if they mind a midnight (or similar!) delivery of small children? I mean, I'd be happy to for other people under normal circumstances i.e. not pregnant and mobility impaired, but I am not everybody.

2) In the event of 4am disaster and nobody to take the DC and I have to have an emergency c-section.. assuming we're all at the hospital, is DH definitely going to miss the birth? What are our odds of somebody being available to watch them long enough for the surgery at least?

Thoughts welcome, and I'm especially interested to hear what others have done in the absence of family to take the DC!

Cupcake11 Fri 10-Jan-14 10:39:03

You poor thing! I don't have any experience to help you but I didn't want to read and run.
Could your mother or family member maybe come to stay with you for a couple of weeks before your section is planned?
Do any of the mums you know have older adult children, maybe students who could do with some extra money who are responsible enough to come and sit with your children until a more sociable hour?

Rockchick1984 Fri 10-Jan-14 11:16:09

Could you contact some local nurseries and ask if any of their staff would be willing to be an emergency nanny for you? I doubt there would be a spare member of staff at the hospital free to mind the children while you have the surgery, unless it happened to be at shift change and someone was willing to stay behind after they have finished (no idea if they would be insured to do this).

Re asking friends, if its only potentially for a few hours I personally wouldn't have any issues doing it for a friend, but obviously you will need to make sure they have beds for your children and bedding etc. plus clothes for the next day, car seat etc.

Agree with Cupcake that your mum or someone coming to stay for a few weeks is going to be the best solution, and the only way to guarantee your DH being there.

Shellywelly1973 Fri 10-Jan-14 11:26:09

I totally sympathise with your situation. I've recently become a lone parent so very difficult but even before we parted it was very likely dp would have cared for the other 3 dc.

Now my grown up ds will drive here but it's very likely i will need to leave for the hospital before he gets here. 2 of my dc have SNs so makes organising childcare very difficult.

I would ask friends if I were you. i don't have any friends locally. I'm sure your friends wouldn't mind helping out.

cravingcake Fri 10-Jan-14 11:44:49

How well do you know your neighbours? Could you ask one of them if they might be willing to come over to you in middle of night to sit with DC until more social hours when friends could pick up DC or DH could come home, if its a middle of night emergency.

CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 12:55:53

Thanks for all your replies!

Cupcake11 - I wish my mother could come up for longer, but she has health issues which is why we're not sure if she can even come for the date of the ELCS. Also she has a DP (who would not want to come at all as he loves his home comforts and personal space, although we do get on fine) and I don't think she'd be happy leaving him that long. They're pretty attached! However you have just reminded me that one of the neighbours have older children who have offered to babysit in the past. Not sure if they're still living there though, but I will ask all the same!

Rockchick1984 - DS is at nursery two days a week so I will ask there - thanks for the idea! Even if it's just a case of somebody taking him home with them until DH is able to pick him up, that would be great. Part of the issue is what happens if I go into labour and DS is at nursery.. and he needs picking up as usual. The hospital is half an hour away from nursery outside of rush hour as it is. Argh.

I agree we'd have to be very lucky to find someone at the hospital even for half an hour - the NHS is hardly over-resourced sad I've told DH this as he seemed to think otherwise(!) but then he's not been the one who has spent several weeks in hospital altogether over the last few years and knows the reality!

You're right about needing beds etc - thankfully we do have ReadyBeds for the older two so that's something we should locate and have easily to hand. The youngest would be happy sharing a bed with his sisters as they are often all found cuddled up together in the mornings, bless them. Car seat shouldn't be an issue as everybody is walking distance away.

Shellywelly - Crikey yes, that is difficult. Worst case scenario in my situation is that DH misses the birth to take care of the children, but without a DH and no local support.. ugh. You have my sympathy too. I'm glad you have your DS to get there eventually, but still, it's a gamble.

cravingcake - We know the neighbours well enough to say hello to but I don't know how helpful they would be. For instance I have SPD and I'm using a crutch, and I walk with all three DC the five minute school run every day at the same time they do (their DCs in different classes) We sometimes chat on the way in and they know how much pain I am in but they've never offered to drop the children off for me even though we go the same way at the same time. It could just be it hasn't occurred to them, but this has been going on for a few months now, I can't believe it hasn't crossed their minds so I guess they're just not the sort who like to help. At this point I don't want to ask because I suspect they're not keen as they would have offered by now, and I would hate to have anyone feel forced into anything. So asking them to take the DC at no notice would be a huge ask I feel. In contrast to a few mothers at the school who, without me even asking, have so kindly volunteered to take the DC if I need to go into hospital (although as mentioned, we haven't discussed if that means literally any time at all!) bless them smile

But that's not to say I'm definitely not going to ask. I'm certainly going to steer the conversation round to the subject when I can, and say we have an issue and we don't know what to do. It would be pretty clear then that I'm asking and it gives them an easy "out" without awkwardness if they don't then offer. And it may well be their own logistics mean they can't anyway. I just hate to impose on unwilling people because not everyone is able to say no, I'm crap at it for starters!

BadRoly Fri 10-Jan-14 13:01:44

Here's my take on it. If a recently moved in neighbour/school mum who I was saying 'hello' friendly with struck up conversation and it came up that they had no family to help, I would offer.

I would offer because we are in the same position. Nearest family are 3 hours away and have never been closer than 2 hours away! I would have children in the middle of the night. If dh worked from home I would actually come to yours so as not to disturb the dc and so you didn't need to think about ready beds etc.

I find it hard to believe I am alone in thinking like that so I think you should bite the bullet and ask. The worst people can say is no but I think you might be pleasantly surprised as I think a lot would be honoured to be asked!

Rockchick1984 Fri 10-Jan-14 13:05:00

I was thinking car seats for if the other family had to go anywhere (school runs etc) or in case they offered to bring your children to the hospital rather than your DH having to pick them up.

PenguinsDontEatKale Fri 10-Jan-14 13:15:20

Here is my take:

I moved to this area about a year ago, so have known people the same amount of time you have.

I would absolutely be very happy to help anyone out in your situation. I'd have some logistical issues (e.g. DH works away a lot, so I can't just rush out at night to collect a child or whatever). But within those constraints, I would be happy to help any time, including over night.

I think a lot of people feel similarly.

I would think about whether anyone you know has responsible-but-still-at-home age children. I'm thinking 17+ in age. Someone like that might be very happy (for a fee!) to come to your house in the middle of the night and simply sleep on the sofa until morning, when other friends will find it easier to help. With parental back up from someone you know, that might be an option? Also for evening babysitting?

cravingcake Fri 10-Jan-14 13:20:38

That is a shame about the neighbour, could you ask them one day if they could take your DC with them on one occasion (use an excuse like you have an early appointment or something) to test the water so to speak. It maybe that its just not occurred to them that you need the help and they dont want to offend you. I only thought of neighbours as ours are retired and stay at home so a one off disrupted night wouldnt cause them any issue.

Also remember that the worst thing someone can say is sorry no they cant help out. Keep it casual when asking and by the sounds of it you have a few more options and ideas now.

Good luck.

CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 13:22:41

BadRoly - Thank you! I would do the same because I totally understand (although I wouldn't right now for obvious reasons - having somebody else's children around and my own emergency situation would be, uh, interesting!) but I think for many people it just doesn't occur to them how stressful the situation can be as they've always had family to help.

I guess I am just reluctant to ask somebody who might not be truly willing but they might feel pressured into saying yes. I'd hate to force my DC onto anyone!

Naturally anyone that does end up taking the DC even for a short while will be getting thanks and wine big time grin

Rockchick - Good point! Although I think in most cases everyone's child all goes to either the same school, or the local secondary which is also a short walk away. We have booster seats for the girls we could leave with them (and were considering doing) but DS (2.75) is another matter. He has an extended rear-facing carseat that was fitted by a professional and it seemed a bit fiddly so we don't want to take it out! However in an emergency he would be okay with a high backed booster for a short journey I am sure - especially in a stranger's car. I say that, because he tries to escape from his carseat in ours, but he behaves a lot better if he's with strangers! I'd feel a bit awkward about getting someone to drive the half hour to the hospital though, that's a very big ask - I'd hope if they were unable to continue to look after the DC we'd have another local solution instead even if it was just an emergency nanny.

Crocky Fri 10-Jan-14 13:29:12

I'm another that would happily help someone in an emergency. Even if it was three in the morning and meant chucking the kids on the settee with blankets to sleep and watching over them with a brew.
I really wouldn't mind being asked at all.

Crocky Fri 10-Jan-14 13:29:56

Oh, I have two largish settees. Wouldn't try squashing three on one smile

CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 13:31:44

Penguins - Same here! For the most part (right now, aside!) I'd have no issue. DH could work from home to watch our DC so long as he wasn't away or had a vital meeting. It's not like it's an everyday thing, delivering a baby. People don't do it very often (well, perhaps I do, ha ha!) so for something like that I'd always be willing. For everything else we need to do, we take it in turns, but a birth is obviously different hence the issue!

Most people I know don't have older children except for one family over the road so I think I will ask them - they would be ideal if their DC is still at home like they were in the summer. More than happy to pay somebody, completely - not that we're rolling in money but this does seem to be one of those things that even a millionaire couldn't fix. Well, short of employing a nanny for the next two months full time to live on-call in some theoretical annex!! DH clearly needs a promotion or six wink

cravingcake - I did actually ask if they could take DC1 in a few weeks back when DC2 was very sick, and I didn't want to drag poor DC2 all the way into school when she was that rough. She was perfectly happy to, but then it was only one (sensible, older) DC she was taking, not the slightly crazy-with-a-tendency-to-run-off DC2 who is in reception. I don't actually blame anyone really for not offering to take both in, although DC2 usually behaves well for other people. So perhaps that is why. Maybe it's a different matter asking them to pop round and watch them from 3am - less hassle! I'll certainly outline the issue we have and see where the conversation goes.. I just feel my main fear is them saying yes and meaning no!

Crocky Fri 10-Jan-14 13:32:02

If I was going to be the emergency contact though I would prefer to be asked sooner than later so I could spend some time in the kids company and know I wouldn't scare them half to death when they were dropped off to me.

CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 13:33:13

Thanks Crocky - that is good to hear! The more people that say they honestly wouldn't mind a middle-of-the-night scenario, the more confident I get about broaching the subject with the kind parents who have already offered!

I am just so crap at asking people for anything!! I'm so used to being self-sufficient and I hate to be a bother to anyone!

CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 13:35:04

The mothers who have volunteered all have DC who are good friends (rather than just classmates) with the girls at least at school. If DS goes with one of the girls, he'll probably be fine. In fact in many ways the more strange an adult is to him, the better he'll behave. It's when he's familiar with people that his, uh, boisterous side comes out. He's otherwise very well behaved and knows right from wrong. Mostly..!

BadRoly Fri 10-Jan-14 13:36:11

Agree with Crocky about being asked sooner rather than later so the dc don't wake up to/get abandoned with a stranger grin

CrispyFB Fri 10-Jan-14 14:17:50

True - it's one thing if they're going round to friends' houses and the friend will be there. It's another if it's just the mum here!

superram Fri 10-Jan-14 14:32:12

I would be happy to be woken at any point in the night to look after a child, people wouldn't offer if they weren't prepared to do it.

With my friend we agreed she would be on call in the day and her mum would come and sleep in my house if it was at night. Although ds only went to nursery 3 days we agreed with nursery he could go on the other days if I was in nursery.

My mum would then get on the first train/plane possible to relieve them-6 hours away.

purplebaubles Fri 10-Jan-14 14:36:48

Watching with interest...due no 2 shortly and in very similar position. We know people here, but they have older children, and my DD is still a baby. Not just a case of sitting with the kids watching tv.

Is it a reasonable reason to ask for a c section? Or planned induction?

I nearly died giving birth to DD...I dont think mentally I could cope giving birth a second time on my own whilst DH at home with DD!

Lamu Fri 10-Jan-14 14:56:58

Also lurking... Completely baffled as to what to do with Dd 2. Our closest hospital is at least 50 minutes away in one direction. Grandparents & friends are 50 minutes in another direction, Dp works in London so technically it could take an hour and 20 minutes to get home then a further 50 minutes to the hospital. I'm not sure I feel comfortable enough to ask a neighbour to look after Dd until MIL gets to us.

dannydyerismydad Fri 10-Jan-14 15:03:30

If you were my neighbour, I would be absolutely delighted to take care of any of your DC at such an exciting time in all your lives. Strike up some friendships - I'm sure most mums would be flattered to be asked.

HarderToKidnap Fri 10-Jan-14 15:12:24

Note of warning, no one will watch your DCs at the hospital. They won't be allowed to be on the ward anyway, it's not feasible at all.

However, if a mum I was on friendly terms with asked me to help out in this way, I wouldn't hesitate to say yes. Middle of the night or whatever. People really don't mind helping out in these situations.

calamityjane1 Fri 10-Jan-14 15:24:01

Hello CrispyFB! Our situations have some similarities: I have a history of fast labours, too, and have two older children. I've got Strep B so need to deliver in our big local hospital, which is an hour away. I'm going to ask to be induced, but if they won't allow that, or I go into labour early, someone suggested I ask quite a few people in advance if they would be able to help, and then when the time comes to text all at the same time (obviously letting people know if they're needed or not). This way you're not left panicking trying to get hold of one particular person.

I know exactly what you mean about the awkwardness of asking when you don't know the people very well, but I would actually be flattered if someone asked me, even if I didn't know them well.

Another thing you can do is to call an ambulance at the first signs – no one can blame you for doing that with your history of fast/early deliveries. I can see myself ending up doing this – better to be transferred under medical care than the current advice I've been given which is "just jump in the car with your children at the first sign of labour and come straight here." My husband works away a lot, too – there is no way you could drive yourself to hospital in labour, so an ambulance might be the best option.

Good luck, and all my sympathies! x

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