I remember this dinner well, but not for cheery reasons. It was only a couple of nights before going back to work and I was so grumpy, sad, and nervous that I couldn't even eat. I just sat there watching my baby sleep in my husbands arms. My husband is Mr. Smiles most of the time, always trying to keep me happy and he does a really good job, but not much could make me smile when I knew I would be leaving my sweet little baby for an entire day so soon.
The next day was my birthday -- I had to go back to work the day after my birthday -- and I can't even remember what we did. I'm certain my mind was on that moment in the next morning when I would have to leave her and commute to work.
That night, I put her to sleep in her co-sleeper crib next to my bed. She went right to sleep and I sat on the edge of my bed, starring and crying. And then I wrote this:
Tonight is the night before I go back to work. I'm sitting at the edge of my bed, starring at my baby girl while she sleeps. She has no idea that I will abandon her tomorrow while she makes flutter smiles and dreams. I'm desperately trying to remember everything about this moment; which nightie she's wearing, which blanket she's wrapped in, and what position she fell asleep in.
Why does it feel like the end, when I know this is just the beginning of a long life with her? I don't know if I'll be able to sleep. I could sit and stare all night; well forever. I didn't realize how precious being pregnant was because I got to take her everywhere with me no matter what! I'm conflicted about wishing to be pregnant again, just so that I don't have to leave her.
I have no idea what I'll feel like tomorrow in the middle of the day, after I've been away from her for more than 3 hours; the longest span of time I've been away so far. I think I'll feel empty and anxious and lost without my new best friend, my heart, my everything. I won't get a smile whenever I ask for it, or a cuddle when I need it, and the saddest part is, she won't either.
I don't understand how so many mommies do this. It feels like a death sentence that should have been outlawed many years ago. Seriously, how is going back to work when your baby is 10 weeks and 6 days old, okay? I really had no idea I would feel this way. I thought, "of course I'll love her, but it'll be nice to have a break and still be me sometimes." Nope. Definitely not. I could care less. This is beyond love and I don't even know what to call it yet.
I can't take my eyes off of her; how she sleeps, how perfect her ears are, how long her fingers are, how smooth her hair looks, how her nose turns up at the end, how her eyelashes are so long they touch her eyebrows, how her hands are up on either side of her head, and what rhythm her breathing moves the elephants on her blanket up and down.
Working Mommies everywhere; you are warriors. Emotional heroes. When people tell you that you deserve an award...you don't deserve an award, you deserve all the time you missed while away from you baby back.
After I wrote that, I knew I had to go to sleep. Or at least try to. And I did. I went to work the next day and I survived and I learned a few things too. So, here is my advice to the mommy's that haven't left their babies yet and are struggling.
Yes, preparing for tears is probably the best thing to do. If you don't have tears then something would be wrong. You are a very good mommy and that's why you will be sad. I've actually been wracking my brain all day to be able to give you all some wise advice, but I can't. It was probably the hardest day of my life. But!! I will tell you that after the first day and you run to get to your baby and they smile at you or recognize your voice, all the sadness just melts away.
Leaving Georgia never feels right, but I don't cry anymore. What I thought was interesting and what I didn't know would happen, was that even though I cried all the way to work that first day, I also found myself again.
I was needed at work and I helped people and I was respected as an adult person and it felt really good.
I got to be a mom to an amazing little girl and a successful career woman at the same time!
So, my advice is to keep your eyes open for the positive that might happen for you on that first day back even though you will definitely be sad.