Raising a Blended Family

In Which I Freak Out About Leaving My Baby While On Vacation

on July 17, 2013

So, I know in the past I’ve been all casual “hey, yeah, we’re going to Jamaica in two weeks” and I may have even been all “heck yes, it’s just going to be the two of us!” about this vacation… but with the count down looming at a week and a half, I am here to tell you that all that casual posturing it has been a LIE.

Yes, I am excited for a vacation with my wife, to an adults-only, couples-only, all-inclusive resort on a beautiful beach with calm clear blue water, hammocks, dark wood island-style rooms and all the piña coladas we can drink (pause for swooning)…

but also…

You guys… I am FREAKING. OUT.

And let’s be honest, the freak out is all about the babies because the older kids are totally all like “okay yep bye” as they push us out the door. And they understand the concept of time and the fact that us leaving them for a week isn’t us abandoning them forever.

Let’s be even more honest- Addie is such a social little bug that I’m truly not (as) worried about leaving her, either. She is a PEOPLE person, she’s always done fine in daycare situations, she eats regular food and has bottles and understands the concept of object permanency. I think she’ll do well for the week we’ll be gone.

It’s Pax. Pax, I am worried about. Pax keeps me up at night with worry, makes me guilty and scared and nervous as hell, with worry.

Let me pause to say that I haven’t written about this here really, I guess in fear of being judged. Because this vacation is totally a choice and heck, I totally understand if you’re sitting back going “well, if you’re so anxious why don’t you just take them with you?”, or “how can you even THINK about leaving your nine month old baby behind while you vacation with just your wife?” I get that, I really do, because half the time I am the one yelling it at myself. I never planned on being the person who left their kid for a week when the kid wasn’t even a year old yet. In fact, this vacation started out as a family-friendly trip to Mexico and we were taking Thing One and the babies with us… And then we got the other two. And then life got reaaaalllllly busy and sometimes stressful. And then we had a significantly reduced amount of us-only time [read:basically none] and we started remembering the heavenly trip we’d taken a few years earlier, just us, and wondering why on earth we weren’t doing that instead of a family trip and there you go. At the time I was more focused on the needing-to-get-away-and-just-BREATHE-with-my-wife thing and less on the realization that doing so would mean leaving the babies while they were still babies, and so… Here we are. As vacation has been getting closer and closer that reality has been setting in more and more and I am getting more and more freaked out.

So that’s why I haven’t written about this here yet, but then I figured that you already KNOW I’m going without the kid so writing about it can’t hurt anything and I really need to process, dammit.

So back to the worrying thing. Leaving Pax worries me for so many reasons. To some degree I know all moms worry when they leave their babies for the first time (then again, not all moms choose their inaugural leaving-baby trip to be a whole week long!), so maybe I’m just like every other mother out there. And yet. It’s hard to explain, but he has always been more needy than Addie. He’s always been a mommy’s boy, always wanted to be held more than he wanted to be put down, always looked for us in a crowded room and followed us around with his eyes until we came back and picked him up from wherever we put him down. Addie has always been so independent and seems to PREFER floor time… Pax is just the opposite.

Also, because I stay home with them, he doesn’t have a lot of experience with outside caregivers. He’s very attached, this boy of ours, and is just fine with moms and no one else. I guess I just am worried about him feeling abandoned. I made the mistake of reading some very strong attachment-parenting-oriented articles about how any leaving by the parent in the first few years is automatically perceived as abandonment by the baby and how it can irreversibly damage the psyche. I don’t know if it’s true or not but I cannot get those words out of my head and they make me want to run and squeeze him and never leave his side. It makes me feel like a big fat traitor, every time he looks up at me so trustingly, knowing that in less than two weeks I am leaving for a week and he will have no idea where I’ve gone or if I’m coming back, and I will have no way to explain it or prepare him. Ugh.

My other major concern is this damn food hangup of his. When we booked this trip we thought about how old he would be (9.75 months) and assumed he would be eating table food by then. Not exclusively, of course, and we always knew he would still be breastfeeding because my goal has always been for long term… But we thought that he would be eating at least some solids by now to supplement his breastfeeding and we thought he would be used to a bottle or sippy by now.

Neither of these are true. You know all about his eating issues, and as far as the bottle/sippy goes… I have some hope, because he WILL chew on one of those soft sippy lids and get milk out of it to drink. However, it’s not his *preferred* method, by far, and while it CAN work during the day, the few times Shorty has tried to comfort him in the middle of the night when he woke up, rather than me nursing him, have resulted in a very.very.very distraught baby. Given that he still wakes up once or twice a night to eat (something else we had hoped he’d be done doing by now!), we are obviously concerned about that! I’m really hoping that his refusal to be consoled by anyone else in the middle of the night is due to him knowing I am there, ten feet away in bed while Shorty is rocking him. Maybe when I’m gone and he can’t smell me he will take someone else’s comfort more readily?

The good news in all of this is that I have more than enough pumped milk for the trip (and if I don’t, my mom can mix breast milk and formula for a day and it won’t kill him). I have been pumping for MONTHS for this trip and have 200+ ounces stored up, and also plan to pump 3/4x per day during the trip (pump and dump) in order to keep up my milk supply so I can nurse still when I get home. Inconvenient, pumping while on vacation, but very very worth it to me.

We have the feeding study scheduled for tomorrow morning. I think, depending on the results, my anxiety will either skyrocket or mellow out. If the study turns up nothing of concern and the doctor tells us he’s just being stubborn refusing to take a bottle or eat anything, then that helps because stubborn is frustrating but not pathological… Give him a day away from me with his milk in a sippy and he’ll damn well learn really quickly how to get milk out of it. If, however, there is something wrong, I guess we’ll just have to take it from there. We do have trip insurance so we can cancel if necessary, though we need this vacation so very badly I am loathe to do that, even with all this anxiety.

I guess we’ll see. I go back and forth a lot. I have no idea if we are doing the right thing or not, taking this vacation. I know we have to worry about whats good for Pax but we also need time for us, for our relationship… it’s a hard balance.

I’ll let you know what the study says. And in the meantime, any stop-freaking-out advice is very welcome (other kinds are NOT*).

*don’t be like my mother: I was talking to her about how anxious I was feeling and about how it’s been a struggle with the sippy cup and getting him to drink pumped milk, and she came back with “wow, yeah, I really hope he doesn’t starve while you guys are gone.” Direct quote. So helpful.

4 responses to “In Which I Freak Out About Leaving My Baby While On Vacation

  1. Alison says:

    First of all, have an AWESOME vacation!!! I hope you enjoy every single minute 🙂

    On the next note, I don’t know how I missed the feeding issues, but please, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or want to talk any of these things w/ his feeding out…I’m a pedi speech therapist but my specialties are feeding and cleft lip/palate. I would be MORE than happy to offer any help I can!! Just let me know!

  2. meridith says:

    Good lord – your mother obviously knows my mother. I think you are brilliant for taking this vacation. It will recharge you (even if you are a bit worried throughout) and taking a moment to get a deep breath and reminding yourself that this is good for them – the new experience – and they will be better for it (and you’ll be better able to be there for them because of it!)

  3. Isa says:

    He is going to be fine, you are going to have an awesome time, and everyone wins! 🙂 Seriously, he hasn’t had to take a bottle or be happy with other people because you have been there–your mom is going to take great care of him and when you get back he’ll have learned a bunch of stuff that you would never have thought to teach him and they will be besties. That happens every time we leave Edie home to be babysat by one of the grandparents–a week will just give him time to master the skills! Also, if anyone starts judging you for wanting an adult-only vacation after taking care of an unexpected FIVE CHILDREN, they can go straight to hell. Now go get a ridiculously floppy hat and some SPF 100 so you can have more pina coladas!

  4. Jen says:

    From my experience my son acts differently when I’m not around. Not worse, but like at school he eats and does things he doesn’t/won’t at home so maybe this will the case with Pax. Like you said, if he knows you aren’t around he will probably be resigned to drinking his milk from a sippy because he knows the boob isn’t an option. I can imagine how stressful it will be to leave but once you do you will have a fabulous time and he will be fine. Kids are resilient and he’ll be just fine with grandma. 🙂

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