Sunday, 20 May 2012

The nanny

Similar to the concept of a runner, the nanny is a must-have in Anand! With our daughter Stella, we did everything ourselves. We've actually been fortunate enough to have never hired a baby-sitter let alone a nanny.  Upon arrival in Anand, we were constantly asked, do you have help? We proudly said, no. Yet, the doctors were semi-reticent to release our own children to us without this described "help". After a few days in NICU, the brutality of the two-hour feeding cycle with twins set in. We could do it, but it would be hard.  After talking to a few families and nurses, we learned more about the nannies. Yet another branch of the cottage industry of surrogacy. One can hire a nanny for either a 12 hour schedule or 24 hours. The going rate is 500 rupees per day per kid. That is $10 per day in US dollars. We thought, $20 a day to have someone who would cover the nights to let us sleep and also be available the rest of the time to work as needed? Are we idiots? Sign me up! Now I've got to find a good one!

Sandiya (favorite NICU nurse) recommends a sweet looking Bengali woman named Maloa. Hired!  No background check, no CPR training, but I call her the baby whisperer. We've spent 5 days together and I can't imagine living without her. She is really, really good with newborns. And our little guys are small. I love being a mama, but truth be told, I enjoy the 5 year old kid way more than the newborn phase. This is a lot of work x 2. The payoff will come later. A little (or a lot) of help makes a difference. She gives sponge baths, massages them with coconut oil (they smell like almond joys), changes diapers, washes clothes, covers all the night-time feedings and some of the daytime feedings. Maloa is here with the babies so we can go out to dinner. Thank god, we need some escape from this hotel room. She sleeps on a mattress on the floor about 3 feet from our bed. It's pretty close quarters and we considered getting a second room. Unanimously, people thought we were crazy. How could we monitor her attention to the wee ones? We didn't want to be the outliers.  So here we are, one happy family of 5 in an 18'X12' hotel room 24x7.  My good friend Tina asked about our room.  She had visions of the English Patient, with a soft breeze blowing in the curtains.  Tina has such a vivid imagination:)  Oh how I wish for some of that romanticism.  This is a practical business hotel..the only frill is the fridge in the room and HBO.  Check it out:

Maloa came here from Bangladesh with her husband for his job. He has had some health issues, kidney stones, which have precluded him from working the last few years. To support her family she was a surrogate twice. Then she started being a nanny for families who need help here in Anand. She tells us of a family from the Bay area that she worked for for 3 months; they are trying to sponsor her to come to the US, but her visa was rejected. They must have really loved her. She is supporting her family (2 kids, boys 8 & 11)and very proud of her work. When she first came into our room she asked where everything was; still in suitcases. She unpacked all the baby gear, organized our situation and took over. Matteo retreated to the lobby, forced out. The first day Maloa covered all the basics. I kept reminding her that we had managed not to kill our daughter, and thus were not completely baby-ignorant. It was more than a little annoying.

The first night was kind of strange. We slept fitfully since Maloa was on the phone (yes, 3 feet away from our bed) and had all the lights on. We told her she couldn't be on the phone and only one side light could be on. Seriously, is this how it goes? Not working for us. How could this woman have been so highly recommended? The second night, Maloa woke me at midnight and says she has a problem at home and needs to go. Oh no. We were on our own. Maloa returns at 8am and appears upset. But so are we. This thing does not appear to be working. Is she a flake? Around noon, Maloa starts opening up. There is a woman she calls her sister; she is not genetically related, but good friends from Nepal. Maloa brought her here to Anand to live with her and her family.  She introduced this woman as her sister to help avoid the local gossip and character assault, since she is a single mother.  Recently there had been turmoil in Maloa's house, as her mother and brother accused her husband of sleeping with her "sister". Maloa defended her husband and told her family to back off---move out if they had to. Last night, Maloa found them together. Her husband was having an affair with this woman, her supposed sister. She was devastated. Betrayed not only by her husband, but also her "sister". She had cursed her family, not believed them when they warned her of her husband's philandering ways. They wouldn't forgive her. I held her for long time, wiped her tears, cursed the bastard until her mom came.  Her family is supporting her of course and counseling her to stay with him;  her children need a father.  She points out that he isn't a very good father--never home, favoring the daughter of his lover.  She is divorcing him.  All around the world, people look different, seem different, but we're all the same. Babies need the same things and so do we.

A few days later, Maloa is a little distracted.  She runs out to meet with the lawyer.  She takes a 3 hour break to play with her kids.  We are happy to give her the time to do what she needs to do.  We are paying her but $20 USD per day.  Even if she just covers the nights for us, we're still lucky to have her.  Now that I'm used to having Maloa around, How will I live without her back in Lafayette? Maybe we should stay here in Anand until Oliver and Camilla are sleeping through the night???? I am half serious when I say this.

Matteo is helping her build a website.  Anybody need a Bengali nanny?  

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