Thirteen weeks of maternity leave is almost up, and as of Monday I’ll be going back to work FULL TIME. My heart is having a hard time thinking of leaving the most important thing in my life with someone else, although I know the people watching him are good people. I haven’t been away from my son for more than 3 hours at a time since he was born, and on Monday I’ll be dropping him off at day care at 7:30am and picking him up around 5:30pm. I’m not entirely sure how I am supposed to survive, but I know I will be stocking up on tissues to make it through the day and scrolling through my pictures of my little guy on my phone frequently.
Still, it’s amazing how far we’ve come in 13 weeks. When he was first born, having him leave my sight (even if it was with a doctor for only 30 minutes for a hearing test) had me crying hysterically. I remember telling my husband that I would never get anything done because leaving him sleeping in another room just felt like torture. The first time I left him with my mom so my husband and I could celebrate our anniversary felt like having my lungs ripped out. The first time leaving him with my in-laws I couldn’t hurry home fast enough just to see him. But I’ve gotten better. My mother-in-law has watched him several times, as has my sister-in-law, aunt-in-law, Mom, and even my best friend (for 20 minutes while I showered, but still). He can nap in his nursery while I’m downstairs cleaning and I don’t get that tightness in my chest anymore. And I can shower while he’s napping and not worry that an eagle will carry him off while I’m one room away (ok not a likely scenario, but crazy things go through your mind as a first time parent).
When he was first born I remember being afraid to hold him. He was so small, so fragile, so perfect. Everything was delicate, and I was afraid of hurting him when I changed his diapers, clothes, or even picked him up. Now I can hold him with one arm while balancing my own plate of food in another, and I know how he likes to be held and what holds will cause him to squirm and squeal until you shift him.
When he was first born, the sound of him crying (or squeaking as we called it since he never really cried) felt like a hot poker to the chest. What did he need? Was he hurt? Was something terribly wrong? But now when he cries, I KNOW why he’s crying. I know his hungry cry, his tired cry, his fussy/dirty diaper cry. And I can solve the problem. And even if he has to wait a minute or two while he’s crying because I’m in the middle of something (like pumping), it doesn’t stress me as much as it first did. I KNOW he’s fine and that I’m going to remedy the situation in just a minute or two. I can handle the crying.
It took me nearly 2 months before I felt comfortable taking him out and about. A trip to Target or Walmart or even to a drive-thru for lunch felt like an impossible feat. What if he started crying? What if I forgot to bring something? Now I feel completely comfortable taking him out and about whenever I need to. He’s a calm baby and he doesn’t scream in stores. In fact he likes Target and falls asleep almost every time we’re in the store! And if he fusses, I give him his Wubbanub paci and he’s a cool customer.
Yep we’ve come a long way since day 1. Not just in terms of how comfortable I am with him, but how much I absolutely, completely and totally love and adore this little guy. There have been times when I’m out shopping with him and the urge to grab him out of his carseat and snuggle him in the middle of the store hits me and I have to fight it off and wait until I get home (never wake a sleeping baby in a crowded store…) Sometimes in the middle of the night I wake up even though he isn’t crying, and I miss his sweet face and cute baby noises. I’m obsessed. I sometimes get so overwhelmed with love for him that I tell my husband that it’s almost physically painful because I can’t hug and squeeze and cuddle him as tightly as I would like to (you know, because he’s still pretty itty bitty).
Yes, we’ve grown a lot together in the past 13 weeks, and I know Monday is just one more of those growth moments. But if you think of it, say a little prayer for me on Monday. It’s going to be a tough day. I foresee a fight between Mama and Daddy that night on who gets to hold the baby…