My 30 live-in nannies

Yesterday Doug and I went to our OB, and I was really hoping that she would tell us that my bed-rest restriction was over and I could resume some level of activity. That was not the news we received. Instead, we came home with two more weeks, minimum, of continued bed-rest prescribed. We also asked her to clarify what exactly she meant by bed-rest. I think I had held some amount of disbelief that they actually expected me to just lie down all day, and Doug and I had had a few disputes over this issue: “You did what?” he would say as I would be reviewing parts of the day with him. I told him that I actually thought I was doing a really good job and that, if he were to poll women on bed-rest, I would likely be in the top ten percent in terms of limiting my activity. His response? “It’s not democratic, Erika. The only question you should be asking is: can I do this while lying in the bed.”

Doctor Hill clarified for us: “You can get up to use the bathroom and shower once a day.” It would seem the husband was right on this one. Doctor Hill was very kind and empathetic about the whole thing. I knew that both of her two kids had been born prematurely, and she told us that during her second pregnancy she had been on bed-rest for ten weeks. She acknowledged how hard it is to do, especially with small children at home. Her oldest was two when she was on extended bed-rest and I asked her: “How did you do it?!?!?” “Well,” she replied, “I have a live-in nanny.” Of course you do, I thought to myself. THAT’S how people do this.

When I got back home, I settled in to write yet another email to our friends updating everyone about the doctor’s visit and the extended bed-rest. I felt weary as I opened up the computer screen and started typing. How will we do another week of this, let alone two??? When I clicked send and whispered a prayer, I realized that actually I am not so unlike Dr. Hill after all. You see, we have thirty live-in nannies (and housekeepers and cooks). They’re just never all here at the same time.

I thought back to the last two weeks and the truly precious memories I carry with me of this time: Elena and Mercy in a constant cycle of rotating tutus and Cinderella dolls; Isaiah’s love affair with our dustbuster; Mercy asking when “Tina Ballerina” is coming over; Grace having to deal with Aaron’s five-alarm poop; Elliot swimming around our living room floor like a shark with Aaron imitating his every move; Anna slipping me early afternoon Diet Cokes; Aaron lighting up whenever Jarrod would come into the room; Richard teaching Mercy how to do headstands, Billy and Sarah scrubbing our bathroom at 9 o’clock at night after long days at work, and the list goes on.

Early on in the two weeks, I was feeling badly for how this whole thing was affecting Mercy and Aaron. The chaos of people coming in and out at every hour certainly had an impact on both of them, which was of course compounded by the fact that Mommy wasn’t picking them up or taking them to the park or giving them their baths. And as much as I could read books and talk with them and “be the prince” from my perch on the couch, life was clearly not the same. Not to mention Mercy’s absorption of the fear and stress associated with Mommy going to the hospital and being gone for a couple of days. The other day I used the phrase: “If that happens I am going to die”, meaning I will be really amused, and Mercy stopped what she was doing immediately and looked at me with giant eyes: “You’re going to die, Mommy?”

So I have rightfully been concerned for how both kids are handling all of this, and of course feeling guilty for not being able to be everything that they need right now. Last night, sitting at the dinner table enjoying some yummy Italian food brought over by good friends, Mercy gave me some perspective. We were sitting there, the four of us, and Jarrod was waiting in the living room for Grace to come and pick him up, when Doug offered him some of the pizza we were eating. Jarrod politely declined at first but finally gave in when we insisted (anyone who keeps up with the Baron for an hour AT THE LEAST deserves a slice of pizza), so he pulled up a chair and started eating with us. Mercy looked at me with a big grin on her face and announced that we were all together as a family at the table: “A mommy, a daddy, a Mercy, and an Aaron.” “And a Jarrod!” I added. She nodded and returned happily to her spaghetti and meatballs.

A few minutes later, a car beeped in the driveway and Jarrod jumped up to leave. As he moved toward the door, Mercy looked at me with her brow suddenly furrowed, and said sadly: “Now we aren’t a whole family anymore.” And I realized that, as hard as the last two weeks have been in many ways, and as hard as the next two weeks might feel, I like what Mercy and Aaron are learning about family right now. And I wouldn’t trade our thirty live-in nannies for the world!


  1. We are in a prtty tense church situation right now and I would give anything to see a bunch of people spontaneously helping someone. (Well, not enough to actually want to be laid up for a while, but it would be nice.) Your kids are getting a great living illustration of how the community should work. I bet it makes a lasting impression.

  2. In Naperville we have the luxury of nannies, but impoverishment of not having a parade of friends coming and sharing life together. One of the unexpected consequences of wealth is that is often isolates you.

    Two weeks is a long time, but it does pass.

  3. Two weeks or longer… My kids took ownership in different activities of caring for me at different points in the day. They also lobbied and won the right to be the FIRST non-parents to hold the new baby when he arrived. It took our family “village” to get him here. They didn’t want to let him go once he got here!
    Take good care of yourself.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement! Mercy has taken it on herself to tell me to sit down whenever she sees me standing up when I am not supposed to 🙂 She’s quite the little nurse!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *