Our doctor, who looked after me during my first pregnancy, furrowed her brow and looked at the ultrasound for two or three beats longer than I was comfortable with. I had a good pregnancy with my daughter, but now, at 36 and having just recovered from a miscarriage, I was nervous about carrying another baby. She finally looked at us and said, with an impish grin, “there are two.”
That sentence marked a giant fork in our future. Twins. We were going to have twins. We had a relatively organized and calm household, with a new house and an even-tempered 2.5 year old who made us believe we could readily handle a second child. Twins –and, sorry to the fellas out there, but twin BOYS – would change everything. We began searching for someone willing to take on the challenge of caring for infants full-time and living in a house with three kids under three years old.
Enter Mayara. From the start, she established a strong relationship with the kids. After we figured out how to keep her healthy and fed (seriously, she survives on hot cocoa, bananas, toast, rice, beans, and steak) and she learned about the twins’ (ever-evolving) schedule and familiarized herself with our daughter’s toddler-esque language and pronunciation, she became a twins-pro. She mastered double-bottle-feeding, she tickled one needy baby with her long ponytail, while changing the other’s diaper, and she swaddled both babies in little, burrito-wrappings for naptime. She taught me a few things about communicating with babies – she would blow on their tummies, kiss their little shoulders, coo, click her tongue, make hilarious kissy-noises, slap her hands, etc., all to distract them from the mundane baby maintenance activities like getting clothes and diapers changed and then waiting for brother to get the same done.
Mayara is protective, creative, tireless, and above all, lovng with the kids. She is vigilant about safety both when she is a one her own and when we are all out together on some adventure. This is hugely important with two curious, fearless and (sometimes, I think) conspiratorial boys in a two-level home.
She also trims 40 tiny nails each week. Incredible. I periodically try this and have had to ask her how she manages (at least without restraints!). Since the boys learned to crawl and now walk, she has had to fend one off with some engrossing toy, like noisy tissue paper, while entertaining the one getting his nails cut by placing toys on top of her head and letting them fall off. While he would belly-laugh, she would swoop in and trim one nail and then reset the object on her head. One down, 39 to go! This is very creative and definitely a labor of love.
And during her off-hours, Mayara keeps our house very interesting. She shares her (funny) experiences and perspectives on getting used to a new country; she joins us for board games (including bananagrams, a tough one when English is one’s second language); she made sure that we all followed and discussed Brazil’s presidential elections and the World Cup, and she quizzes us on America’s system of government and citizen participation. Having an inquisitive, energetic, and smart 24-year old as part of our family has been intellectually stimulating and a true cultural exchange.
This picture I snapped of her with the kids pretty much sums up her amazing abilities with them– she is all of 90 pounds, carting around our daughter in the backpack while swiveling the twins through our neighborhood in their double stroller, determined to make it up to the park before the end of the day to let them get some energy out. Everyone is happy, warm, and safe. We could not have hoped for more when we signed on with AuPairCare.
Read other stories from Ultimate Au Pair finalists!