When my daughter was first born, I had a physical need to be near her. And not just a physical need tied to the necessary prevention of engorgement, although that definitely can’t be ignored lest the milk jugs explode. But a bone-deep need to be available at all times—just in case—because no one can take care of her better than I can. Don’t even try. Thankyouverymuch.
In her first week, which was spent at the hospital, I pretty much only left the NICU for my sanity and matters of personal hygiene. If my baby wasn’t going home with me, I was going to be with her as much as possible, by golly. I roomed in the pediatric unit except for one night, and I remember a trip to Panera where I practically hyperventilated because I was so anxious to get back to the hospital (and another trip out of the hospital for breakfast that did produce a full-on panic attack. Yikes.). Whether it’s hormones, motherly love or just a crazy combination of the two, I did not want to be separated from my baby.
That crazy-mommy need to be nearby at all times only lessened slightly that first month or so. No sooner would I leave the house than I’d be counting the minutes to get home—and at that stage I’d only leave for 30 minutes at a time. Maybe an hour if I was feeling super crazy. I’d get antsy. Impatient. Call to check in and make sure all was well.
Luckily, that drive lessens over time and slowly allows you to start feeling comfortable leaving your child in the care of trusted others. I no longer get antsy and overwhelmed at the thought that I must be gone for a few hours. I’m fortunate that my work situation allows me be home with her, but I know if I had to go into an office, I could do it. But one thing I’ve been unable to do? Leave my daughter overnight. I even turned down a girls’ weekend recently because I just couldn’t do it, and my hubby and I have declined offers from grandparents so that we could get a couple of days away.
It makes perfect sense, both from a survival-of-the-species standpoint and based on the fact that when someone lives inside of you for 9 months, you want them to be near you afterwards. I’m just not interested in being away from the little girl. Call me crazy, but I don’t want to miss anything, not even one of the dreaded overnight wakings. Who knows. Maybe one day I’ll want a night off. But for now, I’m perfectly happy being on the clock 24/7.
Where do you fall on the spectrum? Do you hate to be away from your little ones? Relish the time away? All of the above? Tell us about it! —Erin