At All Costs, Avoid "Birdie"

Dear ISYN,
This is a warning about a nanny named Vivienne C who goes by the nickname "Birdie". She is a Jamaican with a Green card who lives in Brooklyn and works in Brooklyn and the city. I hired her as a temp to work 24 hours a day between the end of the baby nurse and the arrival of my au pair from England.

She only worked for us for two different shifts. One 4 days on and one 6 days on. She was paid $150 per day. At the end of the first week she mentioned to me that I shouldn't feel pressured to switch my baby to formula. She suggested she knew many people who could provide breast milk. I told her that I was comfortable with the choice to move to formula in prep for my return to work.

When she returned for her final six day shift, the baby seemed to be spitting out a lot of the formula during the bottles I offered. I was home at this time, had returned to work but had not left the home yet. I was setting up my office, in and out, etc. Well, on her 6th day in the morning, I paid her, although she wasn't going to leave until 4. I paid her $900 which was exactly what was due. I went out and returned. When I came back I noticed an attitude with her. I offered to take the baby for her 2 PM feeding. I tried to feed the baby and the baby was doing everything possible to avoid swallowing, playing with nipple, spitting out, holding air in her cheecks, etc.

I asked Birdie, "Have you had the same problem with -Baby Girl- not wanting to swallow". She looked at me with what I thought was disgust and said, "No, I never have a single problem with that baby". "Okay, I said. She didn't walk away and stood there. Then she said, "You know I have to say, it is customary to tip between 10 and 20% at the end of a job like this." I was caught off guard. I said, "Birdie, we've only used you for two weeks." She said, "Yes, AROUND THE CLOCK."

I said, "I'm sorry I didn't budget for that".

She then looks around the family room and says mockingly, "Didn't budget for that, okay".

I said, "You know, I'm sorry if you are upset. You've been paid, you are free to leave now, should you like"

She said, "Oh that would be MOST FINE"

She grabs her bag which is already packed and drags it down the steps, roughly so it hits every step. I try to look the other way as I am still trying to give a bottle. She stops and looks at me and says, "Oh you the mom and you don't know that baby don't like that formula. Good luck".

This made me angry. I said, "What are you saying?" Thinking she was saying I was a bad mom. She stood there NODDING dramatically. I screamed "JUST GET OUT OF MY HOUSE". I was holding the baby and she looked at me now shaking her head and said, "oh you don't know alright".

I stood up, put the baby down in the carrier and said, "GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE"

She said, "relax old lady, your fine, it's not your baby who like my breast milk" and then she cackled and dragged her bag so slowly to the door. Then she called over her head to my daughter, "Goodbye baby, enjoy your life with servants and slaves."

Again, BIRDIE is her nickname. I found her on Craigslist. I live in Park Slope. I could not slam the door fast enough. I changed the locks, changed my credit card numbers. I did not feel good about that. And if that was a dig at my husband, she's crazy, he had no contact with her (NOR WOULD HE)


amanda mello said...

I'm sorry, $150/DAY for round the clock care!? NOPE.

Lacy said...

This is why you should always take anything off the internet cautiously. Parents always do a back group check on the person to care for your child, ask to see ID, ask for all documentation. Contracts are very helpful for both parents and nannies.

Sorry you had the crazy lactating nanny. I'd contact your local law enforcement agency. Also $150 for a 24 hour nanny for an infant is really low, really really low-- this is why she was asking about the tip. $150 for 6 shifts in a row-- no off time, is also really low, as after 45 hours in NY you have to pay overtime.

Jeannine said...

Oh my goodness she sounds awful!

To all of the people who are talking about how much you were paying her - if she agreed to the amount, then it's not too low. She didn't have to say yes. When people agree to a price, that is what they will receive.

Chloe said...

Why would you find a baby nurse for a round the clock care in your home from Craigslist?????

Sorry- any care really from Craigslist.

Sorry but you are lucky that was the worst of it.

Next time- go to an agency, ask friends, anything but a cheap hire off CL. Interview, check references, background checks. Do your homework.

Maybe try bonding with your baby on maternity leave instead?

I find it ridiculous that you couldn't spend two weeks w your child while your full time baby nurse and au pair coverage lapsed.

So much so to call BS on this post.

Nan said...

Obviously she's a horrible nanny - based solely on your description. You on the other hand cannot afford a nanny. 150 for around the clock fair is ridiculous! I wouldn't evwn do an 8 hr shift for 150.

So moral of the story, if you want a pro, pay for a pro. Hiring off the internet isn't an issue if you background check applicants and verify references.

Miss Dani The Nanny said...


I get what you are saying about not hiring from CL. There is something to be said that nannies and families on CL aren't good enough to meet agency standards. I am more than qualified to go through any agency, but I am selective with my agencies, and won't go through just any agency. I look for specific things in an agency owner, and if I don't find them, I'm not interested. Speaking of jobs, I found my current full time position and a part time position both on CL. Very nice people and fun jobs.

As an agency owner, I advertise on CL, but I'm very selective with my qualifications. In the six months I have been open, I've turned four applicants away after their response on CL. The reason? Lack of experience and education, along with la k of professionalism.

Yes, hiring on your own is risky. Yes, CL is also risky. But to say that no family sure ever use CL is putting down great nannies who prefer not to use agencies by choice. I could go through an agency here in town, but I won't considering I have had bad reviews on both the nannies and families side of the coin. That's why I advertise on CL.

Julianne said...

I have been a nanny, I have worked at a nanny placement agency, and I am now a parent.

Don't let people tell you that you can't find quality people from CL. You can, but no matter where you find a nanny, you have to do the work to ensure that you are getting quality., SitterCity, Agencies, etc. they all have good people AND scheming, stealing, lying, and untrustworthy nannies.

You as the parent have to put in the work to get what you want. You need to check references, get resumes and verify employment history. Google search them, Look them up on Facebook, and most importantly, listen to yourself and read between the lines when talking to a previous employer. Nanny placement agencies are always an option, but they charge a premium for all the same basic verification work you can do on your own, and you should really check up on the agency to make sure they screen people correctly.

As a nanny I would tell you that I am so sorry that you had this experience, but that yes, sometimes you get what you pay for- and you weren't paying NEARLY enough. Break it down to an hourly rate and what you were paying was nearly criminal. That being said, her actions and behavior were NOT okay. And, I wonder if there was anything in her interview or references that should have tipped you off - but you didn't listen to?

As a placement Agency employee, I would tell you that it would NEVER happened if you had used an agency, (and I'd be lying...) bad eggs are everywhere. Crazy people and whack-jobs can have clean records, excellent driving histories, and interview well. Some even come with great references because a parent will say and do anything to get them away from their family and into another one.

As a parent, I would tell you that I am SO sorry that you went through this. I would also tell you that though you have had a nightmare experience, your baby is safe, and that terrible woman is gone, thank heavens!. Moving forward,try to remember that not all nannies are bad. There are some truly wonderful ladies (and men,) who genuinely love children and what they do. They are trustworthy and kind, and wonderful care givers. You can find the right nanny for you (should you ever again be in the market.) Take your time. You can move forward from this - just make sure that you don't turn into the over protective, terrible MB. If you do, you'll drive the good nannies away and develop a reputation. Once you get a bad reputation as a nanny employer, all that will be available to you are the type of nannies you DON"T want.

RBTC said...

well stated julianne

Anonymous said...

...dafuq did I just read?

Anonymous said...

Okay, so this lady was crazy. BUT I have to echo the sentiment of other commenters -- $150 for a 24 hour shift is incredibly low. For reference, when I do 24-hour shifts in San Francisco, I charge my normal rate ($28ph with my regular family) plus an $150 overnight rate from the hours of 7-7. That is nearly $500 per day. Some nannies I know charge an $200-250 overnight rate.

Steph said...

The overnight fee alone is $175 here PLUS you'd pay nanny's regular 18-24 per hour during all awake hours. $150 for 24 hrs is laughable! When I want a big lump sum of money, I do a few Overnight Weekends. I usually make over a $1000. So I'd laugh until tears came (in my head) at someone offering a measly 150.

I have no objection to finding a nanny/caregiver on CL (provided you verify qualifications and background check), but someone taking this low pay is either unqualified or desperate. Neither is a quality you want for your infant.

She shouldn't have been rude and unprofessional. And you shouldn't expect super nanny if you cannot "budget for that".

Also seconding the "I can't believe you couldn't care for your own baby in the gap between baby nurse and Au-pair."

Neither of you is looking very good in this post.

Marie said...

Yes, what the nanny said and did was wrong, but holy crap! You yelled at her to get the fuck out of your house because you felt she insulted you? Are you kidding me? Exactly how is that appropriate, or reasonable behavior from a gown adult?
Have you stopped to think that YOUR actions there are what set her off? Yes she wasn't very professional, but how do you know she REALLY was breast feeding your kid? She may not have been, she may just have found the PERFECT button to make you loose your mind and decided to push on it when she didn't get a tip. It sounds like since you had a baby nurse and an au pair coming in you may FEEL a little like a bad mom. Something tells me that it was an easy target and your nanny knew it.

Yes Birdie looks very very bad, but Jesus lady, you look terrible too.

Anonymous said...

That nanny is pretty trashy but man, did she dodge a bullet.....

thirty something said...

You do realize you were paying this woman under $7 an hour right? What did you expect! For goodness sake, if you need around the clock care, for the sake of your infant, pay the amount required to get quality care. Or do what a normal person without bags of money does: use your budget to pay for normal 9-5 hours and take care of your own child when you're home from work! Jeez! You do realize you put your own child at risk by being cheap and reckless, don't you? I have little sympathy for you. I do have sympathy for your child though.

Thirty something said...

In fact $6.25 per hour!

Unknown said...

Not sure where OP is from, but the going rate for a baby nurse in Boston is ~$30/hr even during nighttime/sleeping hours for a professional baby nurse = $720/day for 24 hour coverage. Plus if someone did an insane shift like that, I would round it up to at least $800/day. Expensive, but avoiding the resentment of an underpaid baby nurse is priceless.