When we adopted our newborn daughter, we had just moved to a new city and barely knew anyone who could babysit. On top of that, babysitters for our daughter (because she was technically a foster baby for a few months) had to be agency approved, with a background check and fingerprinting, making them pretty scarce. When we were finally able to leave her with her grandparents, there were definitely things I wasn't prepared for when I left my baby for the first time. From forgetting where she was and panicking that she wasn't by my side, to feeling guilty for missing her and guilty for not missing her, there were more than a few feels involved.
When our daughter was a few months old, we left her with my parents while we were visiting for the holidays. They live in a tiny town in central Maine and we had decided we'd go out to dinner. The closest restaurant was 10 miles away, meaning we'd have to drive there and this lightweight new mama wouldn't be having more than a drink. It wasn't 90 minutes before we were wondering what else we could do to stay out longer, as there were no late night coffee shops in rural Maine, or even a bar worth going to after the fastest fast-casual dinner ever.
So we rolled back into my parents' house after barely being gone two hours, but it turned out to be the best trial run for leaving her that we could have done. Not too long that our babysitters (who hadn't been in charge of a newborn in 25 years) got overwhelmed, and not too long that I started to really worry about her. In fact, it was just long enough to get the hang of normal conversation again, and really enjoy my husband's company.
Forgetting Where She Was
For the first several times I left my daughter, I had these really strange moments where I'd panic because I'd forget where she was. I was so used to having her by my side every hour of every day, that I'd forget I wasn't in charge of her for those few hours. I'd have to remind myself she was home and safe, and that I hadn't just left the baby on the bus or something. It wasn't a great feeling, and was probably indicative of the fact that I should have gotten used to someone else watching her a little earlier.
Feeling Naked Without Her
The first time I left my daughter I felt weirdly naked or alone without her. I was used to carrying all her things and holding her in public and talking about her to strangers, tending to her every need along the way. Without her I felt a little naked, like I'd been stripped of my most all-consuming accessory.
When I left my daughter for the first time, I was surprised at how viscerally I missed her. Not every moment, thankfully, but when I thought about her my whole body missed her and ached to get back to her.
...And Not Missing Her
However, I was surprised that I didn't miss her every single second I was gone. A little sign that there was still hope for me of functioning in non-mom scenarios!
Having To Fake Excitement
Before we left, I knew I'd have to fake it 'til I made it on the excitement front. The good news, though, is that it worked. I had to make my husband push me out the door, but once we were out I was excited to have the time with him alone for the first time in months.
Not Having Anything Else To Talk Or Think About
There were moments that I wondered if I could think or talk about anything other than my daughter anymore. Turns out my brain was just really rusty and took a little time to warm back up again to the quick repartee of normal conversation. It was in there, it was just being drowned out by the minute-by-minute worries of a new mom.
Forgetting Important Instructions
When we left our daughter for the first time with my parents, we forgot to tell them how to mix her bottles. My mom had only ever breastfed, so the whole bottle situation was a little foreign for her. My dad had never fed a baby until his first granddaughter arrived, so he wasn't much help on the bottle front either.
A Little Guilt
Despite the fact that I knew it was perfectly normal and positive to leave my daughter for a few hours here and there, I still felt a twinge of guilt at having such a (mostly) carefree time without her.