How to Find a Babysitter in Eleven Not Entirely Pain-Free Steps


So you need a babysitter. Maybe the babies came home yesterday, or maybe, like me, it’s been five and a half months and you’ve only ever left them once when your mother was in town. However long this day has been in arriving, the time has come. Sometimes, living in Brooklyn, things can be somewhat complicated. Here is a step-by-step guide to getting yourself out of the house. Or at least, this is how it worked for me:

Step 1: Ask other local parents for babysitter recommendations. Here is what they will say: “There’s a website called Sittercity, I heard.” “Oh my mother always babysits for us.” “I had a friend who is under-employed. We asked her to babysit once.” “My sister helps us.” “Sittercity.” “I heard Sittercity.” Turns out most people in Brooklyn either hire full-time or part-time nannies, or else they have family nearby. Unlucky you.

Step 2: Post to your local twins list serv. “Looking for an occasional babysitter for date nights and keeping sane!” Get no response. Finally get one response: “Try Sittercity.”

Step 3: Post again on another list serv. Get the names of three sitters.

Step 4: Call the sitters. Two are elderly ladies from Trinidad who have been babysitting for upwards of twenty years. They are professional babysitters, because, as D says, “In New York everyone is a career everything. That’s why we have to get out of here.” The third babysitter is a bouncy, high-voiced twenty-something aspiring actor who makes you feel ancient.

Step 5: Meet the sitters. Hand them your babies. Try to judge based on how they hold them whether they love your babies as much as you do. They will inevitably fail this test. Make conversation anyway. Look deep into their eyes and try to judge their deepest character.

Step 6: After they leave, call the references. Ask intelligent questions like, “So…she likes babies, do you think?” and “Um, is she responsible?” Get laughed at by incredulous, wealthy Park Slope twin moms who have had multiple baby nurses night and day from day 1. “Wait, they’re FIVE MONTHS OLD and you’re only hiring help NOW?!?! OH MY GOD. Wow. Wow.” And in response to your questions: “Yes she’s fine. We had a nannycam and watched her for the first month.” Also, “Yeah, she’s great. She’s a real sister-sister. We used her for three years.” Feel very uncomfortable with the whole conversation.

Step 7: Call the babysitter you think seems most okay. Bite the bullet: “I’d love if you could babysit next Wednesday.” “I’m sorry,” she says. “There are too many steps up to your apartment. Let me know if you want my daughter to babysit instead.” Back to square one…

Step 8: Call a local organization, the member-owned, progressive Beyond Care Babysitting Coop. Confirm a sitter for Wednesday.

Step 9: Have nightmares about babies starving, about milk rotting in the fridge, about your milk production drying up, about people who seem okay but are actually evil.

Step 10: The day of. The doorbell rings. Here is a woman at your door. She is short and round. She is kind. She is experienced and extensively trained, probably more qualified to care for babies than you are. She gets down on the floor with the babies and patiently listens to you tell her how to change a diaper, how to warm milk in a bottle.

Step 11: Walk out the door. Everything is fine. It is normal to be nervous. You can do it. And, you are a good mother.


The Dweebs, Halloween 2013

The Dweebs, Halloween 2013

I had to post this photo because it makes me laugh. Who are those dweebs, anyway? Oh wait that’s us… What has happened to us? I love the creepy halloween hand coming in stage left, the haphazard gray moby on the floor. The kneeling, the dweeby smiles, the bad hair, one coat on one coat off, and of course the twin cows… I really should have made us dress up as farmers to match–we just need overalls.

Here’s how it happened. This weekend we went to a little kids Halloween event put on by the neighborhood parents’ group. There was someone there taking pictures of the parents and kids so we got in line. Why not. We don’t have many pictures of the four of us.

When we got to the front of the line we hurriedly took the babies out of their wraps. I unwound my moby wrap, drapes falling everywhere, and tossed it like an octopus on the floor. D kept his on, and also his coat. Everyone was posing in this gold frame. We couldn’t fit in the frame standing, so we knelt with the babies. We had no hands free to hold the frame anyway. “I’ll hold the frame!” volunteered a voice behind us. D had just gone to a new barber around the corner, because who has time to travel around to the barber you like anymore? I haven’t gotten my haircut in since forever and probably never will again. And the babies are wearing cow suits.

But maybe this is all just excuses. What I want to say really is, I guess we’re parents now! Perfectly ready to embarrass our kids.

Happy Halloween!

My Preemies are Big

“She’s big!” That’s what the woman at the daycare said to me today. I could hardly believe my ears. It made me so happy. “That baby over there is seven months, and I think your baby is bigger. It’s good.”

But even as they grow pudgier, like lucky little buddhas you can’t resist giving belly zorbers, in my mind they are still the precious, frightening little 33-weekers stretching their tiny limbs in NICU incubators. The little 3 pound 11 oz, 4 pound 1 oz morsels.

Obviously I have to adjust my image. These are my big, pink-cheeked babies right here. They are not made of sugar or paper. Frightened, over-protective parenting leads to frightened, stressed children. I thought this old article from The Times was interesting. It talks about parents of premature infants and how they can experience a type of PTSD. M and E were born a month and a half early, which is really nothing compared to what some parents, like the parents quoted in the article, go through. But even a two and a half week stay in the NICU leaves an impression.

I can’t help it. My favorite comment from strangers about the babies is still, “They look so healthy!” I am hungry for the reassurance. But they have a lust for life. They are amazing.

First Laugh

Last week I made one twin laugh. Laughing with her was pretty much the most joyful thing I’ve ever experienced. They’ve been smiling but not laughing so long I was starting to wonder if I just wasn’t funny enough. “Try nun jokes,” one friend suggested, but those didn’t seem to work either. Neither did funny voices, crazy dancing to Captain Vegetable, or even ripping paper.

Here’s what she finally found funny enough to laugh: napkin rings. We have different color napkin rings on a little black stand. They’re made of wood, and if you drop them onto the stand they make a loud clacking sound. I showed her this once and she widened her eyes into saucers. I did it again and she made a half happy, half downturned-lips shocked face. I did it a third time and she laughed. Then we were like addicts, dropping the napkin rings and she chortling, me laughing like crazy.

So now you have two of the best joys of life, babies: eating and laughing. Milestones indeed.

First Food

Today the babies had their first bite of food. Actually “bite” isn’t exactly the right word, since it was baby rice cereal. A tablespoon of rice cereal powder mixed with three tablespoons breast milk, which is really just a slightly thickened liquid. Still, they ate it off of a spoon. Or rather slurped it and seemed confused, and a lot of it dribbled down their chin, and very soon they had had enough and wondered why we weren’t eating for real. Still, it was so fun to see the thoughtful expressions on their faces, and their sputtering mouths making little chewing motions. Almost an imitation of chewing.

We each held one baby and sat on opposite sides of our kitchen table. Sun was coming in behind D, though it is a very damp and fall-ish day. Outside, the ivy on our clothesline has turned red, and the edges of all the trees are  yellow.

It still feels special, having twins. Each of us holding a baby. Next we’re going to try prunes, which is apparently also a first food. I’m looking forward; and maybe the babies are, too. This week there has been a definite increase in drool.

Cuteness Break

Cuteness Break

Uploaded by Catherine M. Kunz "CK" on 10/9/06

Uploaded to Amazon by Catherine M. Kunz “CK” on 10/9/06

Need something distracting and happy? Customer images of baby items on Amazon are it. I’m telling you. The babies are cute. The parents are obviously proud. There are a lot of them and you can just click through. Here’s one of a baby and cat playing on the Gymini Activity Gym. Click the link for one of a baby with the goofy grin chewing on a giraffe. And another of a big brother playing with baby, and twins, and a baby sleeping on the gym, and…

On my way back from a walk today…

…pushing the babies up Fifth Avenue, I was suddenly so tired I didn’t think I could make it home. I wanted to go to sleep right there on the street. Both babies were sleeping in the stroller. Both babies sleeping but I couldn’t nap, too.

When I started out on the walk, as I was lugging the babies in the car seats down the stairs, Ellie screamed so hard she turned a completely different color and I got worried. As soon as I picked her up, though, she stopped. Maybe she was over-tired, too, because as soon as we started moving she fell asleep. Sleep.


Moment of Family Bliss

Since I feel like I’m about to go insane with this sleep training, I wanted to record a moment of peace we had yesterday in the park. D went shopping at the co-op in the morning. When he got back the fridge was all stocked with food.

After feeding the babies, we each put one in a moby wrap, brought a picnic blanket,  a package of dumplings with two forks, a couple croissants and and some plums. For about an hour we sat in the park with the babies, nibbling the food and looking at the view.

The babies lay on the blanket kicking their feet and looking up at the clear blue sky, wispy white puffs of clouds and silhouetted branches of trees. Below us the grass sloped down to that perfect view of Brooklyn and the Manhattan skyline. At one point, a few flickers took off from a nearby tree, heading toward Greenwood Cemetery. Two handsome German ladies set up a picnic nearby with their two-year-old daughter, who had a short pixie cut and a pale pink dress. They smiled at the twins as they passed. From behind we could hear lively music from a group of Chinese dancers.

Everything felt right.