how i survived: leaving baby for the first time
"You're going to FREAK out," my mother advised me, when I told her I was leaving Avvie for the first time. "But it'll be good for you; you have to do it eventually."
Part of this statement was true. It WAS good for me to see my best friends in all the land during a weekend trip to Boston. But, did I freak out? Not really. Does this make me a bad mom? Emphatic no.
As a new mom, you'll probably read a lot of literature about secure or insecure bonds with your baby. Do they cry when you leave the room? Are they comforted when you return? If you leave them with a babysitter, will they ever forgive you? How much damage am I doing, per minute, when I shower when she's awake?
Here is the way I see it: I can't be with my baby every minute of every day. And, since I'm freelancing from home, I am lucky enough to get to see her more often than many of my peers. We have a lot of fun together. But sometimes, whether it's for work or play, I'm not with her. She's five months old: trying to stick her entire fist in her mouth is still way more interesting than what Mommy is doing. I knew if anyone had a hard time with the separation, it wouldn't be her.
So, when my friends from all over the country organized a get together for a weekend, I didn't hesitate. Mike has had enough practice watching her on his own that I wasn't worried he was going to dress her in overalls without a shirt. And, more important, I had enough frozen milk stashed that I could leave her for a few days without her having to subsist on banana puree pouches. For the record, I don't think anything would make her happier than only eating those, though. We are also lucky enough to have cousins who offered up their babysitting services (and their home in the Hamptons!) so Mike wouldn't have to go it alone all weekend.
Similar to traveling WITH baby, traveling without one also involves many hours of pre-planning. I wrote Mike a three-page schedule that had a timetable nearly to the minute. There were paragraphs on every eventuality, from what she should wear to nap when the temperature is above 70 degrees to how many sun hats he'd need to pack for their overnight in the Hamptons. My own packing list was about 50% bottle and pump parts, plus a freezer bag to lug all the pumped milk home after the weekend.
And in the end, it was fine. More than fine! Avvie had five adult playmates all weekend, gnawed on a tomato, and got lots of tummy rubs and snuggles. I had cocktails. It's a win-win.
That's not to say that the weekend didn't have its mishaps. I had to sit in a smelly, stinky-pee Amtrak bathroom for 20 minutes while I pumped. Mike forgot to bring her bottle on the Jitney and ended up frantically attempting to defrost a bag of milk on the hot concrete once they got to the Hamptons. But I look at these as learning opportunities, no? She's growing every day, sure, but the same thing happens to us as parents. You roll with the punches.
And, while the hourly pictures I made Mike text me helped lessen the distance, nothing felt better than squeezing her cheeks and seeing her break into a wide grin when I got home on Sunday night. And then she threw up on both of us and all was right in the world.