It’s all come to a bittersweet end. During these three weeks, I was able to fully immerse myself into the worlds of infant care and child development, and am more confident than ever in my love for these things. Although there were some obstacles that faced me, I feel that, for the most part, this project was a success. I already miss all of the babies and am excited to further pursue this field in college.
Today was my first day in A4, a toddler room. I miss the little babies from A2. The kids here are older and easier to take care of, but they also smell and their parents drop them off even when they’re sick (two of them have fevers!). Baby vomit isn’t that bad, its just spit-up breast milk that comes back up because the babies’ tummies haven’t quite learned how to digest yet, but toddler vomit is a different story. It’s real vomit that only comes up when they’ve got a stomach bug. So it wasn’t fun to see that someone had yacked on the floor this morning. In A2, there was always classical music playing but in here, they only play this one CD of a woman whine-singing the alphabet, numbers in English and Spanish, the months, the days of the week, and many more things that may be good for toddlers to hear but are making me want to rip my ears out of my head. The kids in here are on a different nap schedule and fall asleep at 11:30 or 12 and wake up around 1:30 or 2 which is good because I do nothing for 2 hours, but also bad because I do nothing for 2 hours. I’m ready to graduate.
This morning was quiet. There were only five kids there and they (for the most part) all napped at once! I went for an earlier shift today because I am going out of town for the weekend. Allen was walking a lot today and Sabine rolled over a few more times. She gets really frustrated, though, because she can roll from her back to her belly but not the other way around. I’m gonna miss holding the little little ones, but they’ve taught me a lot and it’s been fun to watch them grow. Next week in A4!
Monday: I arrived at my regular time, 9:00. Snack is served every day around the time that I get there, but as I sat next to the toddlers munching away in their highchairs that morning, something was different. Each boy’s breathing was louder than the next, because they were all very congested. For those of you who don’t know; baby germs are super fun because they are extra contagious. So it was no surprise when…
Tuesday: I had developed a cough (as if I don’t get sick enough already). Either way, I was still happy to be there because, during my weeks at The Launching Pad, I have been able to watch the babies progress in many ways. Seeing the older boys grin as they successfully take a few wobbly steps on their own makes all of the spit-up and drool-covered outfits worth it for me.
Wednesday: There was an issue with my neighbors early that morning which resulted in me not going to work. (But I thought about the babies, so that counts for something.)
Thursday: I returned to The Launching Pad this morning, ready to return to where I’d left off. Nolan took nine steps at once today (nine!), Sabine rolled over twice, and Paige’s neck has been getting much stronger and she’s almost able to hold her head up comfortably now! On the adult side of things, there’s been some drama between the caretakers which has resulted in me moving to A4 next week, which is 12-15 month old babies.
I love tiny humans and I am loving my senior project.
Given this, it’s easy to say that my first week at The Launching Pad has been a success. Although I’ve chosen not to take a lunch break every day so that I can leave an hour earlier, these hungry hours are not spent in boredom. There are eight babies in my room who age from three to twelve months, so it is guaranteed that someone will always need something. Although I have always loved working with infants, I have never had the opportunity to compare developmental stages in the way I’ve been able to do here.
There has been some drama between the caretakers, children, and parents, but these instances have been overshadowed by the wonderful experiences I’ve gained during my first week.
Can’t wait to share more.
As I pushed the button to request entrance into The Launching Pad, I exhaled shakily. I pushed the door that was supposed to be pulled (nice) and an irritated receptionist came to retrieve me.
She then asked me to take a seat and walked away. I sent messages to a few friends (all along the lines of “I’M SO ANXIOUS I’M GONNA DIE”) and pretended to be occupied, an ineffective “survival” tactic of mine.
After a few minutes that felt like hours, a smiling woman walked over and introduced herself (thank god it wasn’t the scary receptionist). She showed me to the infant area that I would be involved with, room A2.
She explained to the caretakers in the room, Toya, Maria and Jessica, that I was there to observe, and my heart sank. I would spend three weeks within inches of babies and barely be able to interact with them? Sounded like Dante’s Inferno to me.
So, for the first twenty minutes or so, I kept the kids at an arms length. I asked if I would be allowed to do A or B, and gingerly tried not to overstep my boundaries.
Luckily enough, I was not the only new person there that day. Three month old Paige was having a rocky time too. Being away from the comfort of mom and dad for the first time, as well as being unable to hold your own head up, is understandably frustrating! However, I quickly discovered that we both benefited from having each other around. Paige got fussy whenever she was set down and the other caretakers didn’t have enough hands to constantly hold her while keeping track of the six other crawlers in A2, so I willingly volunteered to keep her calm.
Around 10:30, it was time for everyone to play outside. I stood up and held Paige close to my shoulder, and headed towards the sunshine. A few minutes had passed when I noticed that I’d been spit up on. The other caretakers were surprised by the fact that having regurgitated breast milk all over my sweater didn’t bother me at all, and this was the bizarre gateway to my being able to have a hands-on job at The Launching Pad.
Thankfully, any mention of me being there to solely observe has gone out the window, and I am able to fully engage with these tiny humans, which I am loving every second of.