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Nursery Panic - please help!(7 Posts)
I am mum to an adorable DD (6 months) who has recently been assessed as having developmental delay. (She is thought to have a genetic disorder - she has had a microarray which came back clear and has been referred on to our regional genetics service for more testing). She is gorgeous but a bit difficult; DH and I are muddling through, trying to do the best for DD and slowly working our way towards acceptance that life might have have thrown us a bit of a curve ball.
One significant source of stress is the impending end of my maternity leave. I love my job and would really like to go back to it (I am also our main earner!) but it carries a certain level of responsibility and would need 3 days a week minimum. The longest I can stay off is until DD’s 1st birthday. This means DD would need a nursery place, but I have no idea if she would manage.
At the moment I just can’t see how I could do it - to DD or the nursery! Whilst her health seems for the most part pretty good, she has the most terrible reflux and is very difficult to feed. We are hoping weaning will help, but currently feeding can easily take up 50% of the day. She also has a few behavioural ‘quirks’ - she currently screams as though possessed at the sight of strangers and cannot tolerate being in any position except lying on her back or being held upright. (We are working on the latter issue with her physio - although the poor physio is a frequent victim of the former!)
Is there any way I could put poor DD in a nursery or am I deranged and selfish for even thinking it?! I would love to keep up work if I can and I earn more than DH, so the financial impact of me quitting would be significant, although we could probably manage. DH feels I would be better than him as DD’s main carer (not sure he’s right but he feels strongly about it!) but also feels I am making heavy weather of the nursery issue - he is hopeful she might catch up whereas I would feel better knowing that we have plans in place if she doesn’t.
All the other mums from my NCT group have cheerfully signed their DCs up to nursery from October and have had long chats about the shortage of places - I am v aware I need to get my head out the sand and deal with this but I just have no idea what to do! Can she go? Should she go?! Would she be eligible for any sort of help? Any advice very very welcome as I am stuck!
Hello there. Your post touched a nerve with me as I was in a similar position - admittedly about 10 years ago now! My DS has autism and although it wasn't diagnosed until he was much older, even from 6mnths it was very clear there were 'issues'.
Like you, I was the main earner and I loved my job. I remember having sleepless nights trying to decide what to do. My DS would also scream his head off at people he didn't know and his feeding was a huge issue. I actually ended up cutting ties with most of my NCT group as I just couldn't deal with seeing how their DC were developing compared to mine - but that's another story!
What I would say is - if you haven't already, you need to start contacting nurseries now. I appreciate you may not be able to visit them due to Covid but you should be able to speak to someone on the phone. You will probably get a good idea as to how receptive they're going to be in accommodating/supporting children who may have additional needs.
I would also suggest maybe looking for a childminder? You can get a list of registered ones from your council's website. Could you stretch to affording a nanny? Now is a good time to be contacting childminders actually as many will be looking to fill places from September when their older charges start school/nursery.
In my case, with a very heavy heart, I decided not to go back to work. I spent the first three years of DS's life coming to terms with things, ferrying him from hospital appointment to various therapies etc. He did end up going to nursery from 2 but that was very part time and with full time adult support.
I found the first few years the hardest and it's a lot to deal with, both emotionally and practically. I had a demanding job with long hours and managing people and I just knew there was no way I could have coped.
I ended up not working for about three years. I am working now but part time and I've had to take a 60% pay cut so it is such a hard decision. I really do feel for you having to make these decisions when so much is unknown.
Hello OP, I think it's really good you're looking at this clearly and asking yourself the tough questions. Obviously not going to be any easy answers.
My thoughts would be ...
If your job is a responsible one, you need to over estimate and not under estimate how much time you'd need to do it, because if you sign up to try and "squeeze it into " 3 days it could be v stressful on everyone if it actually needs 4.
When your child finds attaching to new people distressing, it can have a heavy impact on whether you are mentally available to actually do your job because leaving a distressed child with extra needs is torture. So, you've got to work out a plan to support attachment with a reliable worker.
Sorry to be blunt but it sounds like your DH is ducking the question by insisting you'd be a better career for DD. It doesn't matter longer term who is the carer, but it does matter that you make the decision jointly and have any robust discussions you need. If one of you carries a sense of injustice at losing their job, this will be incredibly hard to deal with on top of the strains of having a child with additional needs. You've got to protect your relationship longer term by not settling for ill fitting solutions short term.
If your DD screams at strangers , you need to really think about this. No one can predict how she will develop in the next few months but I'd advise you to project forward from her current profile and assume she may find attachment to new people really hard snd it will take time.
Talk to nurseries now to start looking at options. Is there one where you could pay extra to have a full time 1:1 worker for DD given her reflux and attachment issues? Could you work with this person for say 6 weeks in the lead up to starting nursery, ie start off in your home environment and build up v slowly?
Alternatively could you look at a SEN nanny to do 1:1 in your home? If you do, you snd DH will need a tight back up plan for the times nanny is suddenly sick etc or the days when DD is unable to settle and you're called back home. Can your DH keep his job but negotiate flexible working with his employer on grounds that his disabled child will need extra support.
@ClocksGoBack, @Toomanyminifigs - thanks both for your kind, detailed and honest replies; I feel as though I’ve had some sense gently but firmly knocked into me which is exactly what I need!
I have ruminated on it for a few days and spoken to my DH about the work issue - being by default the parent who would have to cut back on work stressed me even before I got pregnant, and it really is something we should have resolved better at the time, rather than kicking the can down the road. However, we are where we are - DH has agreed to look into taking a sabbatical to allow me to get my ducks in order at work and hopefully redistribute some tasks within my team. I will probably have to take a pay cut to make it work but think I would prefer to try and keep my job if I can, even if it’s in a modified form. My work is very flexible in terms of timing and location which is extremely helpful.
I am also looking into getting a nanny or childminder - feel this would definitely be preferable to nursery at present. Now we can go out and meet others we will also be trying some gentle socialising to see how DD copes!
I fully acknowledge that even the above may not suit DD and it may be that what is best for her is for me to be her full time carer - but if I do have to quit, then at least I know I’ve tried. I will just try to plan the next few months with the view that I am going back but acknowledging I might need to change this if it isn’t suitable.
@Toomanyminifigs I hope your DS is doing well - I am sorry you found his first few years so tough (and very much sympathise with this!), but am glad things seem to have become a little easier over time. I too find NCT extremely hard - my group seem lovely but they are all starting to meet and go to baby classes with their robust, cheerful DCs and my experience feels so very different (and very lonely as a result).
Hi OP, it is not selfish to want to go back to work!! It is 10 years ago now for me, too, and I think you need to take a medium to long term view as well as the short term practicalities. If you take a career break, how will job hunting/going back to work be in the future? What would the likely impact of a career break be on your/your DH's career?
I did not go back to work for a few years after having DS and then did temporary work and I now work part-time. I find part-time challenging because I can't fit the work I need to do into the days I work but this will depend on your company/line of work. DS is a lot easier now, but when he is off school, I have the sense that I can't do either 'job' well, which is frustrating.
Me taking a career break has allowed DP to focus on his work, which has subsequently led to him being less able to help out at home and less capable with DS. I think the fairest thing would either for you both to reduce your hours so you can share the childcare (if possible) or to find the best possible childcare option for DD. If you can afford a nanny, or childminder who doesn't have many other kids then this would be a good option.
I would agree with what PP said about a sense of injustice. I am not especially fond of my job and I still feel it - would be much worse if I'd given up a role that I loved. I opted to stay at home with DS without questioning the decision (at the time I was up most of the night with him so would have been in no fit state to return to work, I still felt dreadful) but to fully explore options and then choose the best one for the three of you as a family is the right way to go.
Full time nanny - it will be easier for you x
Your child will be able to stay in your home so more comfortable for her x
Do not give up your job and do not let all the responsibility for your dd's care, or for finding a solution fall on you. I agree with the above - some combination of you and your dh working reduced hours and a nanny are likely to be the best solution for you all at this point.