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Infant care at a huge price

As a new mother, I thought my biggest challenge would be the nighttime feedings. Yes, those first weeks were hard, and I was lucky to have enough paid leave saved up to take 4 months off work (I'm a federal govt employee), but nothing prepared me for the huge challenge of finding quality daycare. After all, the DC metro area has some top-notch universities, hospitals and other "customer care" institutions. I started in my neighborhood in Rockville, MD, scouring the area for in-home daycare providers. Despite the fact all are licensed and inspected annually, I was shocked to discover some serious issues ranging from safety to hygiene. One provider encouraged her toddlers to ride around on her huge dogs who took up most of the floor space in her small daycare. Another provider had recent hip surgery and wasn't able to lift her children to place them on a changing table, so she told the toddlers to climb to the top of the stairs so she could change their diapers from a few stairs below. As I witnessed these situations during my daycare interviews, all I could think was, "And they charge $13,000 per year for this?!!". Sure, caring for an infant is something most parents would pay astronomically high prices for, but for this price I wanted someone special whom my baby would feel comfortable with and whom I could entrust not to send her to the ER. We finally found a lovely lady who genuinely loved children and wasn't just in it for the money (most in-home daycares in my area are licensed up to 8 children and earn significantly more than I do in a year!). I have accepted the price of teaching my baby basic skills and ensuring she doesn't sit in a poopy diaper for hours. But my husband and I are also having lengthy discussions about when we can afford to have a 2nd baby if we are looking at paying for daycare for two children -- or even if we can wait long enough for the first child to reach kindergarten as we may be too old by then...
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