I’ve been in two minds about whether or not I wanted to share my story but in the end if I can help someone avoid the heartache I went through then maybe I’ll feel a little less guilt.
Being a working mother, the decision was made before my daughter, Isabella, was born was to get a nanny to look after her at home. The idea was to let her go to crèche when she turned two. That way hopefully we could avoid a sick baby and also have the back up of having someone at home during school holidays or if our four-year-old son, Alexander, got sick and needed to stay home.
We wanted to get the best possible person to look after our precious little girl and decided to spend the extra money and go through a nanny agency, as opposed to recommendations. From the four people we interviewed, “L” was the best fit. She had a lot of experience working for a well-known crèche in our city for several years and all her references were glowing. We couldn’t believe how lucky we were finding someone so qualified. We appointed her.
“She would not speak a word to her the entire day. She would leave her crying in her cot for a long period of time … she would mock her and mimic crying sounds. She would forcefully remove her from the couch and flick her with a wash cloth that would bring her to tears.”
In front of us Isabella was her world. She would always tell us how she has her problems at home but when she gets to us in the mornings and sees Isabella everything changes for the better. She seemed to genuinely love her. Isabella on the other hand, wouldn’t put up too much of a fight to go to her in the mornings. She would moan a little bit and then settle. We put that down to her just obviously preferring to be with us than anyone else, like most young children.
If you could’ve seen the two of them together, you would find what I’m about to tell you hard to believe.
I’ve always been a true believer in a mother’s natural instinct and now due to what we have been through, this has been reinforced. A couple of months ago I thought I should install a nanny cam in the house, just to be sure everything was fine. I’d asked “L” to do educational play with Isabella during the day and I just doubted whether she did it at all. That was the first sign to me. The second was my instinct telling me maybe she’s just “too nice”. Could all of this love and affection she’s showing maybe be a little bit fake? I went with my gut and I put up a nanny cam. To my horror my worst fear was realised.
Almost the second we left home in the mornings her attitude towards Isabella would change. She would not speak a word to her the entire day. She would leave her crying in her cot for a long period of time while she continued cleaning and when she did eventually go to her she would mock her and mimic crying sounds. She would forcefully remove her from the couch and flick her with a wash cloth that would bring her to tears. Then there was the snooping through our laptops and personal things and also treating our household items badly. My biggest fear is of what may have happened that wasn’t captured on camera.
We got advice from a lawyer and asked her to come in early on Monday. She knew she was caught. All she wanted to do was get out of there. She admitted to all of it. The fact that she accepted everything so quickly and wanted to leave the house made me wonder whether there was more to the story and she’s scared of the repercussions.
“I let my family down. I let my baby down. I was supposed to protect her. What does Isabella think of me?”
I have so many questions that I will never get the answers to. Why did she treat her so badly? And what else did she do? I’m going to have to live with that. For now I’m just trying to live with myself.
While typing this tears are streaming down my face. I let my family down. I let my baby down. I was supposed to protect her. What does Isabella think of me? Did she wonder why her mother would leave her with someone that mistreated her? Those are just some of the things swirling around my mind and what I’m working through.
I have realised that you can never be too safe. No matter who the person is or how many years you’ve known them, it’s still not their child. So if you are a working mother or just hiring a babysitter for a date night, be one step ahead and put safety measures in place.
I no longer give new parents advice on which nappies are the best or which brand of bum cream to use. The only advice I will give from now on is INSTALL A NANNY CAM!
Main image photographed by KOA Photography