Leaving Baby B for the first time was incredibly difficult for me to do. It happened at 5 weeks old and was only for 2 hours so me and hubby could get a bit of much needed us time and catch a movie.
Those first few weeks were incredibly intense and my parents recognised that we could probably do with a little time to just be adults and do something for ourselves after an endless run of feeding, nappy changing and trying to sleep. They volunteered to travel 200 miles and stay overnight at a local Premier Inn and watch Baby B for us for as long as we would be comfortable with. Even though the idea made me nervous I graciously accepted and me and hubby picked out a film to watch at the cinema. We contemplated going out for dinner afterwards but I didn’t want to make any plans not knowing how I would be feeling.
I was glad that we didn’t make those plans. Even though there is no one on this earth I would trust more than my mother, I still struggled. Once we were actually watching the film I was ok but on the journey there and back my stomach felt like it was tying itself in knots and I just wanted it to be over and to have Baby B back in my arms.
Realistically, I wasn’t ready to take that leap and leave her and I didn’t brave it again until she was almost 4 months old and I went to get my hair cut. Even then I was a touch nervous.
Often relatives (or friends) can be a bit pushy about getting you out the house, leaving the baby with them for a while. While my parents offered they were by no means pushy and were perfectly ready for me to say no with no argument. For those that don’t have children it often comes from a place of ignorance; they don’t understand the pull to be with your baby and think it’s easy to just leave them. I can think of a couple of circumstances before I had Baby B where I was definitely guilty of this myself but oh how the tables have turned now!
With relatives it can be a little trickier; some offers to babysit are made with a genuine desire to do something nice for you, and some are made without considering either your feelings or your baby and actually come from a place of selfishness. My mother in law recently exhibited this behaviour with Baby B when my hubby had his aunt visiting from the other end of the country for example. Rather than arrange a lunch for us all to go to, she purposefully tried to orchestrate a dinner in the evening and told us that she ‘wouldn’t mind’ watching Baby B for a few hours, at her house of course. As it would have been past Baby B’s bedtime it would have meant that she would have been hell on earth to look after. We would have had to postpone her bedtime by an hour (if you’ve had a baby you know how difficult this would be for all parties) and then trust that mother in law would be able to get her to sleep (which she wouldn’t want to do as she just wants to play with her and recreate her own children’s lives), then we would have had to disturb that sleep in order to bring her home after the meal and try to resettle her (easier said than done when you get to the over tired stage). Besides the fact that I will never allow this woman to babysit, this whole debacle just wouldn’t work for us so we declined. The kicker for how we figured out she was trying to force babysitting? She declared she didn’t want to go to the dinner as she doesn’t like going out to eat. This woman loves going out to eat. Seriously. Every family event revolves around going for food so it became pretty obvious what was going on.
It’s an example of seeing the difference between an offer to do something nice for you and something for themselves.
The next time I left Baby B was at 5 months old to attend my brother in laws 30th birthday party. She was in bed asleep the entire time and I asked my best friend to sit in my house just in case she woke and needed settling back down. It was much easier this time around and I didn’t struggle at all as I knew she would be ok, and so would I.
Every woman reaches this point at a different time, and that is ok. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be with your child. You are the child’s mother after all and nothing could be more natural; in fact it’s all part of science that we’re biologically programmed to want to be with our babies so we can protect them. Don’t feel pressured to leave your little one before you are both ready, and make sure when you do it is with someone you are 100% comfortable with as this will make you more likely to relax.