After the birth of our daughter, Phoebe, we hired a maternity nurse. It seemed like such a good idea: we would learn the basics from an expert and be given the gift of sleep.
Looking back, this is exactly what happened. What I hadn’t considered, however, is how I’d cope with having someone else around the house all the time. It was great to have help with those early – endless – nights of motherhood and an expert to tell me what to do but I also desperately wanted to be left alone to see friends and family and to spend time with my baby.
If we’d lived in an enormous house in the country perhaps things might have been different. There wasn’t really enough ‘space’ for us all. I should have had the guts to ask, politely: “My milk is coming in and I’m a bit of a wreck so can you just give us a minute?” or “Do you mind if I quietly catch up with a friend who’s desperately trying to tell me she’s 6 weeks pregnant’’ or “We’re going to ask my husband’s best friend to be godfather – perhaps you could take a walk around the park?”
I stewed rather like a teenager under a veil of postnatal hormones just desperately wanting to be anywhere other than my own home.
But I didn’t. Instead I stewed rather like a teenager under a veil of postnatal hormones just desperately wanting to be anywhere other than my own home. I did feel like she gave us good support but there were also some hilarious moments I’d rather forget. Plus bad habits crept in. The dummy, while useful in the early days, was the hardest to unpick. It became normal for me to be up every 20 minutes through the night, putting it back in again. By the time Phoebe was eight weeks I longed to be able to enjoy the magic of her smiles without having to squint through sleep-deprived eyes to see if they’d actually happened.
On one particularly bleary eyed day I Whatsapped my oldest friend who has a one-year-old: “I’m on my knees, dummy situ out of control , please help!” Her immediate response (from a beach in Menorca no less) was just two words: “Lin Elderkin”. She then sent another message which read: “Just trust me – she is the bomb xx.” It had to be worth a go.
Lin is a trained maternity nurse who works solely via phone and text, something I didn’t understand at all to begin with, especially after having a maternity nurse.
I thought she’d want to hear what had gone before so I launched into my story only to be stopped me in my tracks. “You’re not alone,” she assured me. As if by magic we had a clean slate. “For this to work,” she said, “you’re going to have to trust me.”
Her confidence gave me a spring in my step and I let go. We spoke morning and evening and texted throughout the day sometimes up to four times an hour. There were moments on day one when I thought “What am I doing?” but on night three, when our 14-week-old slept from 7pm until 8am with no dummy and in her own cot, I cried some happy tears.
Rather like the magic Nanny McPhee, she’s there when you need her and not when you don’t.
What’s amazing about Lin is that I can’t for the life of me explain how she does it. Rather like the magic Nanny McPhee, she’s there when you need her and not when you don’t. Friends of course have been asking me to spill the beans about Lin’s formula but I can’t give them a definitive answer.
It’s more than just “controlled crying”. Her intuition is remarkable and it’s wonderful that she encourages parents to work as a team. My husband and I feel we have got Phoebe into a good routine together, which has given us no end of confidence.
When she tells me to hold the phone up to the nursery door mid cry and gives me immediate next steps or a feed is going very slowly and she sends a text encouraging me to wind her, I wonder if she has a crystal ball.
She’s planned out our entire day for Phoebe’s Christening with timings for feeds/ naps and is on hand to give advice on anything and everything from flights and jet lag to injections or just a lunch out with a friend.
The most important thing is that we now have a happy, relaxed little girl who has clearly inherited her mother’s love of all things routine – the gorgeous and constant smiles say it all. When I spoke to a friend of a friend who’s also used Lin, she said “I wouldn’t have #2 without her.” I feel exactly the same and bizarrely a rock-like bond has been formed with a woman we’ve never met.
Yes there will be bad days and yes we’re going to come across hurdles during weaning and of course teething but we’ve now got a firm base from which to work from. The irony is that I’d absolutely love to have Lin for lunch, tea or to stay for the week/ forever but I know that what works best for me is the distance and the space to become the mother that I always wanted to be.
- For more information about Lin Elderkin click here