Our little girl will be a year old next month. My husband and I haven’t been out on a date together since before she was born. This will be the first time both of us are leaving her. It has taken until now for me to feel comfortable with the idea of leaving her with someone who isn’t her daddy. I’m not sure why I feel so anxious about it.
I started preparing for our date the week ahead by trying to break the nursing/sleep association. Claire has not taken a bottle since her first month of life when I was having difficulty breastfeeding, and I have been nursing her to sleep from the beginning. I started to have Garrett putting her down for naps, which was also nice for me. I have been doing all the sleep routines for basically her entire life. This new bit of freedom feels great, and I wanted to make sure that she would be comfortable taking a nap with someone else putting her down.
We decided that we (me) would feel most comfortable going out during the day. We booked tickets to a matinee at the symphony, and were going to grab a quick lunch beforehand. All in all, we’d be gone around 4 hours. I have been away from Claire for at least 3 hours for hair appointments, so this felt OK with me. The night before, I flipped between being really excited and feelings of dread. I wanted to cancel, I cried, I asked where we were going to eat, I yelled, it was a roller coaster of emotions. My husband assured me it would be great, that we were going to have a good time, and that our daughter would be fine. I went to bed hopeful.
In the morning, I felt pretty good. We had our usual morning routine, she went down for her nap and I started to get ready myself. I was looking forward to putting on makeup and doing my hair. I picked out a cute outfit for myself. I looked forward to talking to my husband about something other than our daughter. Once she woke up, I began to feel anxious. I had anxiety over what she was wearing, I wanted her to be easy to change. As if my mother in law who has had two of her own children and has regularly babysat my two nieces from their births (ages 4 and 7) wouldn’t be able to handle pants vs. leggings. I decided to pump and leave some milk for her sippy cup along with 6 different choices of solids for lunch, as well as an assortment of pouches and baby snacks.
Once grandma arrived, I let my husband give the instructions as I didn’t want to seem overbearing, I also didn’t want to cry. Once we left the house I started bawling before we even got in the car. He held my hand and told me it was OK. I put my phone away, and as we were driving, I started to relax and was looking forward to lunch. We went to one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. The food was amazing, I had a sangria, life was grand. We got a picture of Claire at the park in the swings (her fave), I was feeling great.
We got to the symphony early so we each grabbed a coffee and biscotti. We were seeing the Music of Harry Potter, so I thought we should do the house quiz. I’m a Hufflepuff, he’s a Ravenclaw, we were feeling really good. This was a date we used to go on before having Claire. It was great to be out doing it again! Until nap time rolled around.
We use a Wifi camera as a baby monitor. I thought I would just check in to see if she was going down easily. We had left instructions for the nap routine. We sleep trained, and Claire will usually cry or fuss for a few minutes before falling asleep on her own. I watched her standing in crib crying. She was resisting a nap, which isn’t abnormal, but I almost puked. I started crying, I was looking around to see how I could possibly escape my seat and climb over people to get out and speed home. My chest was tight, I couldn’t focus. I thought my child must have thought I abandoned her. She’s suffering. I cried harder, I swore at my husband in hushed tones. He convinced me to put the camera down and check in 3 minutes. Once I did, I left it open until I saw she was sleeping. I started to relax, but I kept checking to see how long she would sleep for. I relaxed when I knew she was down for a good amount of time, 40 minutes, but I did keep checking the camera periodically.
I felt immediately guilty at the end of the symphony for ruining our date with my anxiety. Husband said it wasn’t ruined, but I think he’s a bit disappointed. I was disappointed in myself that I couldn’t just let it all go and focus on us. Nothing bad would have happened to her. I knew she was safe with her Grandma, but it was incredibly hard for me. The relief I felt when I got home was immense.
She was happy to see me, but was also just happily playing. She didn’t seem to be too concerned I was back until I picked her up and she realized she wanted to nurse. Once that was done, she was good to go off and play again. Now I was sad she didn’t miss me more. My rational brain is telling me this is a good thing and that she needs to be independent, but I missed her so much and was so sad and anxious that it felt a bit bad that it’s not reciprocated.
From all this, I’m seeing that I need to start making time for myself, and my husband and I, away from her. She’s fine without us for a bit. We can go and have alone adult time. We can be social and see friends without her, and she will be happy and continue to thrive. It may take me a few tries to be fully comfortable (and not check the camera), but I owe it to my family and myself to try.