Normally, I am pretty excited about all things related to the anniversary of my birth, but this year is a bit different. Today, my 18-month old daughter went off to attend her first day of child care. The tears in my eyes this morning stung so hard as they rolled down my face like a waterfall. I made a valiant effort to keep it together for all of us, but failed miserably. I turned away after daddy strapped her into her carseat. She reached out for me, but I just couldn’t bear the look she gave me as she realized that I wasn’t coming with her.
Fuck. This sucks. This really sucks. I’ve already had to step away from this keyboard twice to grab more kleenex.
I return to night shift tonight as well. Some birthday celebration, eh? Whatever. I don’t mind that part at all. I’ll be glad to get back to my darkened hours.
I sit here with my coffee by my side, an eerily quiet home, and the prospect of having the entire day without a small human tugging at my pants or nursing at my bosom. To say it feels surreal is a complete understatement.
I have to admit, I do feel lucky, fortunate, dare I say even ‘blessed’ that we were able to keep J here at home with us, surrounded by family as her caregivers for the first 18 months of her life. After the first epic failure of our babysitter (I’m still bitter, by the way), it’s been a bit of a journey to find trust in another provider. Luckily, my employer has a fantastic child care center on the campus of the hospital where I work. I feel confident in their abilities, their experience, and I know that our daughter will likely thrive under their watchful eye.
I realize that some of you moms who have utilized group child care are probably laughing at me, and that’s ok. I admit it: I’m a complete amateur here, and I likely will never get into the groove of a daily child care routine. This morning was a joke as I carefully measured out equal amounts of expressed breastmilk into two sippy cups labeled with my daughter’s name. I couldn’t find lids to match cups and vice versa. I almost decided on a thermal carafe filled with coffee instead. My daughter woke up on her own, so after a brief breastfeeding session and snuggle, I did my best to tame her wild bedhead before I handed her off to daddy.
Damn. I miss her. I miss her already. It’s only been two hours, and I’m at a loss here. The house feels empty, sad, devoid of any real activity, which just makes it easier to grab another kleenex and cry.
How the FUCK do you mamas do it? This is all new territory for me, and I can only assume that with time, it becomes easier. All of it becomes easier. It has to, otherwise, nobody would EVER do it.
Is it 5 o’clock yet?
As if this isn’t enough, yesterday at the pediatrician’s office during J’s well child visit, we were greeted with a few concerns. J isn’t walking full time quite yet, although she has walked independently for almost a week now. The doctor didn’t seem overly alarmed, but did classify her as ‘delayed’ as far as gross motor skills are concerned. She will refer us to EI (Early Intervention) for an evaluation and we’ll go from there. Sigh….
The doctor also noted a tongue tie. I have had ZERO issues breastfeeding, so there was no indication that she even had one prior. With J also not saying much in the way of vocabulary, it was discussed that an option we have is to revise the tie via laser procedure. Needless to say, I spent a good chunk of yesterday researching this topic. The doctor said there was zero pressure to do the procedure at all, and based on discussion and research, we have opted to wait and leave this alone. There’s just not enough credible evidence linking tie revisions and improved speech. Whew. Ok. That’s easy enough to deal with.
But, then there’s the mommy guilt. Of course, the logical and rational part of me realizes that there is NOTHING I could have done differently or done to prevent any possible delays, but does that make me feel any better?
Mommy guilt is a strong and powerful enemy. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t get a little twinge of jealousy when I see pictures and videos of other children J’s age or younger, walking, talking, singing songs, reciting full sentences. What the actual fuck did I do wrong? Why doesn’t our daughter get with the damn program?
My son was a late-talker as well. He chose not to speak much until he approached his third birthday. It was a time filled with speech evaluations, hearing tests, and waiting. I hated that time. The entire period was spent asking myself why he didn’t talk, and what I could have done to help him. When you realize the answer is likely nothing, it just doesn’t make you feel better at all. While the logical side of you knows that all children progress at their own pace, the emotional side of you knows that children are cruel and yeah, sometimes so are their parents, and when your kid stands out for reasons that aren’t too positive, it gets overwhelming and sad.
I hate thinking we are going down that same road again….
I smile and congratulate friends with babies and toddlers who are passing J in these milestones, but deep down I’m bummed and sad that we haven’t experienced these things yet. Call me superficial, call me shallow, but I’m honest in these feelings, and I look forward to the day I can put them away.
So, today I sit here celebrating my 47th birthday with a cup of coffee and the knowledge that I can likely vacuum the entire house without interruption, and shop online with my son’s wonderful gift card for Amazon without distraction. And with the new watch my husband bought me, I’ll count the hours, minutes and seconds until I see my baby girl again.