We survived the first week of full-time back-to-work and daycare. Everyone with kids told me that the first day you drop your child off at daycare you will lose it. You will cry, they said. They said, you will want to run back in and hug and kiss them and you will call a hundred times that day, and that’s if you don’t leave work early to go back in and pick them up. But when you pick them up, they told me, it will be so amazing to see their face light up when they see you.
Our first day was less dramatic than all of that. I did tear up. I did cry (a little) once I got back into the car and was on my way to work. I did not go back into the room once I left her, but I did peek in the window again, wishing I could go back in…knowing if I did I would a) be late for work and b) probably would cry. So I peeked in at Charlotte who was already looking about at all the new sights around her, smiling like she always does, and playing with her hands (her new thing, I’m such a proud mama!). I got in my car, cried a bit, and then I went to work.
My day was too busy to step away and call a hundred times. In fact, I didn’t even get a chance to call once. This fact made me feel a little like a bad mother. What sort of mom doesn’t call to check on her baby the first day at daycare?!? Me. I was that sort of mom. Insert first feelings of maternal guilt here.
Pumping was insanely problematic for me this first day. I didn’t feel like I was pumping enough, but also felt like I was pumping ALL. THE. TIME. I started to realize why so many women give up on breastfeeding when they return to work. I am committed to breastfeeding and providing breastmilk for my daughter for as long as I can and so will continue to pump at work, but this first day and the rest of the week made me realize it is not an easy undertaking, even in an environment that is very understanding.
When I went in to pick Charlotte up from daycare that first day I was so excited. Once I left work – I left work. This is atypical of me as a Type A personality administrator. But, I had a new role, a new job waiting for me once I got home. I left all the “at work” work there – at work. I was excited to see my daughter. To see her face get all super cute and smiley when she saw me. I was excited to return to my other work, my work as Charlotte’s mama and I was looking forward to that warm, gushy feeling everyone promised me I would have when I saw her after our first day apart. I arrived and actually felt like I had “butterflies” in my stomach. I was almost giddy. I walked down the hallway to her room, ready to see her big toothless grin and adorable double chin.
My daughter was sleeping when I picked her up her very first day of daycare. I know I should have been happy – she was clearly content, safe, well-taken care of. But I wanted that “HI MAMA!!” smile that everyone talks about. I picked up my sleeping baby, put her back in her car seat (still asleep) drove home (still asleep) and brought her inside (still asleep). She finally woke up an hour after we were home, tucked safe and sound in her own bed; she simply started chatting a little bit as if to say “no biggie, mama”. Then she proceeded to get up four times that night. So much for sleep schedules.
Now the first week is over. We have two days together this weekend where we are on our own schedule. No premade bottles, no scheduled naps – just mama and baby time. She did well this week and was not clingy or needy or overly tired or overly awake. She seemed to adjust well to this new schedule of ours. I feel like I adjusted well also. Other days I got my toothless grin, so that was nice too. But tonight, at the end of this long first week, I realized just how much this week has impacted me – and her. When we got home tonight I fed her and she refused to let me put her down. But I was So. So. So. Tired. For the first time in our lives together, Charlotte fell asleep ON ME. She has always hated this before because, frankly, she absolutely hates being on her tummy. But this was different. It was almost as if she was trying to burrow back inside my womb…she wanted to be close to me, she needed to be near me and would take nothing short of being connected to me in the only way her little four-month-old self could. So, I propped myself up on our bed, smack in the middle so that should I fall asleep and she roll off me, she’d be safe (yep, this was a thought I had) and we napped. We both napped. After a bit, I woke up but she was soundly asleep so I tried to put her down next to me so that I could get up and do something. She wasn’t having it. Her little whine was heartbreaking. She tugged at my arm and tried to nuzzle closer to me. I caved. I picked her back up and held her close to me again. We rested there together, and I took these quiet moments to soak up her delicious baby scent and kiss the top of her soft, fuzzy head over and over, as she let her fingers gently pat my arms as she fell back asleep. Mama and baby were back together: week one over and done.
After what I can only say has been a successful week, the baby is in bed, bottles are washed and my work materials are tucked away until Monday. I will now enjoy a glass of wine and listen to her breath through the baby monitor…probably going in more often than normal to kiss her little face.