10 Emotional Stages Of Spending The Night Away From Your Baby For The First Time
I’d first gotten word of my sorority sisters’ summer trip plans months beforehand, and at the time they sounded awesome. A girls’ weekend at a cabin on a lake, with old friends, fancy cheese, and the opportunity to put my feet up? By the time the trip came around, my baby would be almost 16 months old — surely, I’d feel ready to get away by then, I thought. I was psyched; where do I sign up, etc. I never thought I would be one of those moms who had a hard time being away from her kid. My emotions about healthy separation would be the picture of, well, health, naturally. That was my expectation.
I felt, in addition to confident about my readiness for a baby break, lucky that I hadn't had a reason to go away sooner. To this point in my son’s life, I had not had work needs or family emergencies or any other incident that required solo travel. Every trip I’d needed to go on, he'd been able to come with me. But still, this trip with my friends left me feeling a little... heavy, in anticipation of it. I think the fact that it was my choice to take a girls’ trip is perhaps one reason why it weighed on me a bit more than I expected — I didn’t have to go. I mean, there were going to be six other women. Surely they wouldn’t miss me that much.
Besides a baby, I had deadlines! I had a home project that I was leaving semi-completed! I had a newsletter for a volunteer position due in less than a week and I hadn't started! In addition to all the family reasons tugging at my heart strings, I had some legitimate things to do that were getting put on the back burner. All told, I almost cancelled. In fact, had my best friend from college not already bought her ticket to fly over and then drive with me the rest of the way to our destination, I definitely would have.
Well, since you’re reading this, you already know I went on the trip. Allow me to share with you the emotional stages that took over as I prepared for, and ultimately spent, a night away from my little.
At first, I looked forward to the trip. I had a semi-realistic view of it, thinking, sure, it might be a little tough, but once I got away, it would certainly be totally relaxing and rejuvenating, right? Right? Right, guys??
As the date crept closer, I started to kick myself, becoming convinced that I wasn’t as ready as I’d previously thought. Why had I committed to going? Would I be able to have fun hundreds of miles from my baby? Would he miss me? Would he understand that I was gone? Was he going to completely forget how to breastfeed in the 48+ hours that I would be away? Would he be scarred for life by my absence? (Did I mention that I almost cancelled?)
I tried to push all my concerns and fears out of my head and just go about my normal routine, trying to ignore the fact that I was a heartless, evil woman voluntarily leaving my most precious little boy.
The last couple days before my trip, I sucked it up and accepted the fact that I was committed to going. I realize that I had a lot of reasons to be thankful, particularly that A) I didn’t have to worry about the safety or well-being of my little, and B) I had every reason to believe that the trip itself was going to be fun.
Actually getting myself out of the house was the most challenging thing. It took me forever to pack because I kept stopping to love on my toddler, and because I had a ~nervous stomach~ that required me to stay close to a bathroom and pushed our departure back 90 minutes. And when we finally did get the car packed and backed down the driveway, I stopped to wave at my boy in the window for like, 9 more minutes. Suffice to say, actually leaving was a whole process.
After all the hiccups and near-misses in the build-up to the trip, the moment of arrival at our destination was a mix of relief, pride, and excitement.
Not long after I’d arrived, a peek at my phone told me my son was almost in bed back at home. I spent a couple minutes video chatting with him and, to my own wonder and amazement, didn’t get tearful.
Pumping (If You're Breastfeeding, Obviously)
Ugh. OK, this part was not only annoying and un-fun, but made me miss my tiny friend.
If by "sleeping" you mean "kinda dozing off and rolling around in the bed, noticing how quiet it was without the hum of the monitor transmitting the buzz of his fan into our room," then yes, I slept.
9. Waking Up
It’s over. Everyone is still alive!
Someone pinch me. Wait, first hand me my phone though, I want to call my son again.
(Whatever, don't judge me. Besides, this was just the first night — by the end of the second night, I was sleeping the hardest and best sleep ever and loving the kid-free time with myself and my friends. Pumping still sucked though.)