Friday, November 6, 2009

Max's other mom

So, Max's teeth keep falling out but I haven't been able to save a single one; we think he's been swallowing them. Leave it to our nanny, Linnette, to actually snag a tooth when it came out today.

"Nanny" always sounds so pretentious to me but Linnette is so much more than a babysitter. Actually, "Max's patron saint" would be a much better description. That's her above, with Pumpkin Max at nine months old.

I hired Linnette even before Max was born; she sort of fell into my lap, referred by a friend of a friend. I thought she was kind, competent, sensible, good-hearted, and a little bit proper, which I adored about her. Then Max was born and we spent two weeks in the NICU. I called and told Linnette there had been some problems at the birth, but I was scared of telling her the truth. Hell, I didn't even know what the truth was. My newborn had a bilateral stroke at birth and resulting brain damage—that much was true. He was going to have challenges, but I didn't know how severe they'd be. Nobody did. Would Linnette want to quit? Just the opposite: Linnette was in. She said she'd do whatever she could to help Max along. I think she fell in love at first sight, which wasn't too hard. Max was a heartbreaker from the get-go.

After I returned to work from maternity leave, Linnette sat through Max's therapies. She exercised his stiff arms and legs, helped him hold toys when he had trouble grasping them, spoke to him and did everything she could to stimulate his brain. Over the years, I've found that she's been able to handle certain things in a more level-headed way than I can. Feeding Max, for instance. It's still an emotional issue for me, even more so when Max was very young. It took such a long time to feed him, since he didn't have good tongue coordination and kept on pushing out food with his mouth. I was always so concerned he wasn't getting enough to eat. And I was unnerved. Eating seemed like the most fundamental, basic thing in the world for a kid to do. It was upsetting that Max couldn't do it well, although now I understand just how cerebral palsy affects a child's ability to use his tongue muscles. Max's issues with eating were an undeniable reality: I had a child with disabilities.

Linnette didn't see things this way. To her, Max needed to be fed, period. Calmly, she would feed him. And feed him. And feed him. She still does, to this day.

I'd heard about a "Care Hero" contest on where you can nominate caregivers who've gone above and beyond to care for people they love or work for. So, I nominated Linnette. I'm hoping she'll be a semi-finalist. In my dreams, she'll win the grand prize, which includes a hotel stay, tickets to a show and dinner. If you have someone in mind to nominate, here's the Facebook page. Also, this weekend, is giving free access to the site, where you can check out profiles of approved local caregivers.

Who's the babysitter in your life who you trust most?


  1. I think everyone needs a Linnette. I think our nomination would have to go to an OT. She was so much more than just therapy. She was love and caring, learning and growing. We miss her.

  2. Way to go, Linnette~! God gave you a real blessing, Ellen! BTW when did Max lose the tooth? Faith lost her fourth last night, and YES I got it!

  3. Everyone does need a Linnette. I'm glad you have yours.

  4. Oh, I want a Linnette. I don't have anyone that compares. She sounds like a real blessing and a super great person.

  5. Grammy and Grampa--they've seen it all. Plus, they're talented, dedicated, sensible, loving, patient, cheerful, retired....and related!

    Oh, and they do it for free, too!

    Talk about LUCKY!

    I heard they're getting stem cells out of baby teeth. Ain't THAT something! They say they're not quite "there" yet...but there's "potential."

    Everyone should have a Linette, and/or parents that they can turn to who will listen to them gripe and never pass judgment .... and care-give for free.

  6. wow. what an angel. I'm so glad to hear you and Max have so much support in your life.

    Unfortunately we don't have anyone like that. It all pretty much falls on me, but I'm working hard to expand Queen Teen's circle of support. It's so important.

  7. Max lost the tooth Friday, one of his top two. He looks SO extra cute! Candace, glad you got one too. We have a grammy and grampa, too, but they don't live nearby and they're really getting on in years, though grammy (we call her "babba") is pretty spry. She says Max and Sabrina keep her going.

  8. My daughter, Kelsey is Kameron and Kobi's "other mom". She is tougher on them than I am, loves them deeply and I trust her completely to know what to do in any emergency.

    As far as teeth: Kameron will be 10 in January, and we've only managed to save ONE. The others disappear silently. Well, sometimes we hear him chew them up.

    I'm so glad you have Linnette. Fabulous Caregivers are difficult to find and keep.

  9. I definitely need a Linnette. We don't have any family nearby. We have some ladies from church that babysit for us once in a while, but they could not compare to Linnette (although they are very sweet ladies and we really appreciate their willingness to sit for us!). What a blessing to find such a wonderful woman to help you and your family.

  10. Thank you for being you, Linnette. The world needs more people like you.
    My MIL is the one I trust most to watch Daniel. She's really wonderful and unlike other MIL's, she (mostly) follows our rules and doesn't step on our toes. Oh, and did I mention that she's also a PT? Talk about a great babysitter.

  11. You are so lucky to have found such a wonderful caretaker Ellen!

  12. 1 - Jo, I LOVE your title! Love it!

    2 - Ellen, I can't tell you how fortunate you are to have a Linnette! Give her a big hug for me. Before Jack was born, I had plans to hire a nanny in the first four months. But after he was born and spent 6 wks in the NICU, I was too upset to even think about it. Now, he's 5 and we still don't have a Linnette because of his deep anxiety problems. If only we had someone as loving as your Linette!

    But also, I'm so glad I found your blog. Jack was diagnosed with CP at 8 months old and autism at 3 1/2. We tend to focus on the autism right now as it's his most pressing need. But obviously he still has CP issues. Eating has been a huge challenge. Always has been. But I hadn't thought about it being related to CP until I read this. Thank you, thank you for sharing this. Boy, it really takes the pressure off. People (well-intentioned) wonder how long I'll be feeding him. Well, between the fine motor skills and the mouth issues, it's a struggle just to get him to eat, much less require him to feed himself too. What a relief to realize this! Phew. Thank you!

  13. I too have been blessed with a great helper...a live-in helper! With my son's feeding, sleeping, gross motor, fine motor, oral motor issues, I'd have gone into deep depression without her help in all those aspects.

    When it came to feeding him, I was just too paralysed with fear (8hrs on just 2 ounces of milk was the record), worries (he vomits so often) and guilt (I'm his mum and I cant feed him!) I felt like a failed mum. My helper took on all his feeding from the time she came into our lives (he was abt 5mths old). She has far more patience when it comes to feeding him.

    His CP diagnosis was only made at age 2yrs 10mths (he's now 3yrs 11mths) and yet it's only when I read your post that I realise his feeding issue is due to his CP. Thanks very much for yourself are a blessing!

  14. Isn't it great when there's someone in your life who's calm about the things that freak you out. I'll admit that I did not handle baths very well for a long time. Charlie didn't get a proper bath until he was about two months old. I gave it the first go and I had people saying the water was too hot or the water was too cold and Charlie started screaming and it was just too much for my fragile state. I don't think I willingly bathed him again until recently. My MIL LOVES to bathe him and I can pawn it off on her on a regular basis. So glad that someone in my life was calm about it.

  15. Linnette sounds so amazing. We had a "sitter" (that word is NOT adequate, and neither is nanny) who was practically part of our family and I still miss her. So do the kids. You are so lucky, Max is so lucky!!

  16. This comment has been removed by the author.


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...