I wanted to hug supermodel Brooklyn Decker. I know it sounds sappy but when she documented via Twitter her first trip away from 7-month-old baby, Hank, I wanted to give her a hug and say, “Been there!”
Decker wasn’t pulling any punches as she lamented missing her flight, having to pump in the airport bathroom and the need for alcohol to get through leaving her baby for one night.
There are many firsts for new moms, but there are few firsts quite as internally painful as leaving a baby overnight for the first time. I personally shared Decker’s angst over missing her flight while breastfeeding. In fact, I still have a keen memory of me having to use a hand pump in the bathroom of the Oakland Airport so I didn’t get engorged. And when that flight was delayed by three hours, I had to pump again on the flight. My hormones were in high gear, my anxiety at a 10, and my breast milk right on schedule. Sadly, my flight was not.
When I returned home I found my 6-month-old son just as I’d left him two days before: happy, cheery and hungry. It was as though he hadn’t noticed I was gone. In fact, he probably hadn’t. From then on, I promised myself that as long as I left my children in capable and kind hands, I wasn’t going to spend every moment away from them worrying about them.
Decker’s angst-ridden texts are totally normal. It’s hard to leave your baby for the first time, but it’s often necessary. So why not tell the truth about what will and won’t go down when you leave your baby for the first time?
1. Your baby won’t notice you’re gone.
The good news is, babies need a kind and capable set of hands to care for them when they’re newborns. The bad news is, those hands don’t have to be yours. Bonding is totally crucial for parents and babies, but a few days off from bonding won’t ruin the bond. Mom may notice every moment she’s away from her little angel, but that little one probably won’t bat an eyelid. That’s a good thing!
2. A nursing mom’s flight will always be delayed.
Despite scheduling your entire flight schedule around your nursing breasts, your flight will be delayed. Bring a hand pump and expect to use it in just about every private space you can find along your journey. It’s humbling, but there’s no reason a breastfeeding mom should feel embarrassed about taking care of business.
Expect to cry the minute you get in the car or cab to head to the airport because you will cry.
3. The car ride from your house to the airport will be the longest ride of your life.
Expect to cry the minute you get in the car or cab to head to the airport because you will cry. It’s OK. Your baby is precious. It’s not easy to leave precious things, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
4. It’s OK if you don’t call home much.
The relative or childcare provider taking care of your baby will call you the minute something goes down, so if you don’t check in every hour on the hour it’s totally fine. Your baby is probably too young to talk and won’t understand how you got inside the phone. You don’t have to feel guilty for not checking in all that much.
5. Your childcare provider won’t follow all your directions, but your baby will be safe.
Despite leaving a schedule, Power Point presentation, Post-Its, laminated copies of your baby’s favorite foods and a map to every park within 50 miles, the person taking care of your baby might do things a little differently. As long as your kiddo is safe and clean, turn a blind eye. All that matters is that you and your baby are happy.
6. You’re still a good mom even if you enjoy your time away from your baby.
It’s OK to enjoy your time away from your baby. It says nothing about how good of a mom you are.
7. Airport security will make you question everything you know about breastfeeding.
You may have to take apart that pump or explain that hand pump in your carry on. And you’ll definitely have some explaining to do about all that breast milk you’re lugging home. It’s not easy to travel when you’re a breastfeeding mom and airport security doesn’t help. It's important to know your rights, but also to understand that (most of the time) they’re just doing their job and not trying to ruin your day.
8. You won’t sleep anymore on the road than you do at home, but at least you’ll be horizontal when you’re awake.
The night of dreamy sleep you have planned will probably look a little bit more like night sweats and leaky boobs, but at least you won’t be on duty.
9. Facetiming with your little one will usually lead to disaster.
Your baby may think it’s cool that Mommy climbed in the phone, but once you see your baby’s face, you may break down. Step away from Facetime. It’ll make you miss your little one.
10. Leaving your babies don’t get easier the second, third or fourth time around. But by then, you’ll be a seasoned pro.
It’s always hard to leave our kids even if it’s just for a night. But time away can do a mom good, and sometimes we have work commitments that take us away. Our kids learn that mom always comes back. And we learn it’s OK to take a break or take care of our job responsibilities. There’s nothing wrong with that.