I dropped Baby J at the new daycare last Thursday around 8:15. It took me a solid 20-30 minutes to leave, but he was totally distracted by the other kids and the different toys. Instead of crying my eyes out on the way to the office, I Marco Polo’d a mom friend. The plan was that I would leave at lunch to pick him up by 1pm. I’d left 5 oz of milk- 3 in bottles and 2 frozen. I’d nursed him right before we left for the daycare so I estimated he’d need to eat around 10am and then every 2 hours. He hadn’t been taking bottles well for other people lately so I honestly didn’t want to waste any milk by just sending tons.
I called at 10:30 to check on him. He was just taking the first bottle and doing ok. He’d made a girlfriend, a brunette by the name of Stella. Maybe 30 minutes later, the daycare called. Panic as I answered the phone- but they just wanted to confirm how much milk I’d left as they thought I was leaving him all day. Nope, he has enough until the afternoon when I’ll pick him up. Awesome, thanks.
At noon, I texted my husband to call. Baby J was still doing fine- had taken the 2nd bottle and a 25 minute nap and loved playing with the mirrors. 1pm rolled around and I was in the middle of the last discussion at work. If he’d had the 2nd bottle at noon, Baby J would take the package of frozen milk at 2pm and then be okay until 3:30 or 4pm.
At 2pm, I called the daycare again- he was still doing fine, was kind of fussy but hadn’t taken the last bottle yet. I was good to stay at work until I could wrap things up. I told them I’d be there about 3 and if he needed the bottle, give it, but if he could hold off, that’d be best.
I raced out of the parking garage at 2:40. It was at least 20 minutes without traffic to the daycare, but the highway was gridlocked. I pulled up to the daycare about 3:15 hoping that he’d be okay when I walked in. The teacher was on the floor with 2 other babies while another sat at the lunch table waiting on a snack. My child was no where to be seen- my eyes searched the room. Umm.
He was napping in a crib. Oh thank goodness. He had just gone down shortly before 3pm and had taken the frozen milk. The teacher thought he might still be hungry as he had seemed to keep searching after he finished the bottle. I decided to let him sleep a little longer since I needed to pump milk now anyway. If he’d just eaten, he probably wouldn’t nurse well and I hadn’t pumped since 12:40 while we were on a lunch break. It was getting to my threshold of 3 hours.
I sat in the car for 20 minutes or so pumping and thinking that I could have saved time by doing this on my way if I had known he’d eaten. I thought about the other daycares I’d heard of that texted you whenever your child took a bottle or napped. Without a daily routine, Baby J and I were not on a schedule. I couldn’t pump every 2 hours when I know he would eat every 2 so I was having to make up for those ounces and adjust my body to guess how much he might take.
I chatted with the teacher for a few minutes until he finally woke up. His eyes were red and puffy- he’d been crying recently. The teacher told me that he’d gotten upset when he was tired but otherwise, was good. He was good at getting around- she seemed surprised. He loved playing with the other kids and the mirrors they had on the floor. Had he screamed and been inconsolable? Not according to her but those eyes told me a different story.
He gave me a great big baby hug when I picked him up. Surprisingly, he seemed okay to go in the car. He hadn’t slept much at the center. He fell asleep in the car seat within just a few minutes. And slept almost 2 hours while we drove home. I could not even believe it.
All those fears of him not doing well, of not being able to leave him, and they were gone in a moment. No, it wasn’t easy to leave him. I am with him almost 24/7 and have been since the day he was born. The longest I’ve been away in one full stretch was that daycare do- 7.5 hours. And we both made it. I don’t particularly want to do it every day- pumping is exhausting, the worry was even worse, and the whole routine was chaos. But is it doable for a few days here and there? Yes.