On Leaving My Children

This isn’t a post about going to BlogHer (although I AM leaving to GO to BlogHer so if you’re as annoyed at all the conference talk as I was last year you can skip it – or just go read that post). This is about whether or not leaving my kids – especially Caroline – with my husband for three days is something I can handle. I also apologize if this is the bazillionth time you’ve heard me talk about this, because I’ve been word-vomiting all over everyone for weeks anytime any subject even remotely related comes up.

I asked for similar last year and got lots of reassurance that going to a bridal shower without my 15 month old didn’t make me a terrible mother. Then a month later I left him again for The Creative Connection Conference…and again he survived. Since then, I’ve even managed to leave him in the care of other people who are not his father (although never for a weekend) and he’s a total champ about it.

But that first time I left? Little Evan was 15 months and done nursing. Caroline is going to be just short of 8 months old and still totally addicted to the boob. So addicted, in fact, that besides the one bottle she took at a few weeks old (when I foolishly declared “Yah! She takes a bottle!” and then stopped offering them. Idiot, party of one) she gets all her milk straight from the tap. I have tried every suggestion the internet has for bottle/cup/spoon/sippy feeding but I think the only thing that’s going to work is me being completely unavailable and her being extremely hungry. So I just have to…leave. And let E deal with it. Or find some poor sap and pay them a bucketload of money to do it for us.

I suspect there is going to be the kind of crazy inconsolable screaming that makes parents genuinely those their minds, and although E is a little less sensitive to it than I am I cannot help but feel like the world’s biggest jerk for (sort of) intentionally creating that situation. What if she screams the WHOLE TIME? What if she never does take a bottle? What if she gets so dehydrated she makes herself ill and E has to take her to the ER and the doctor says “Oh, did your wife die?” and E says “No she went to San Diego to talk about blogging and party” and I end up on Dateline as the Worst Mother In The World?

Part of me realizes there is nothing FAIR about being a parent. Someone is always going to feel like they are doing MORE, and in general we take turns being that person. But this isn’t about whose turn it is to unload the dishwasher. This is about – forgive me if this seems a little overdramatic, I am feeling VERY OVERDRAMATIC – intentionally making Caroline miserable, ruining a baby’s sense of security and happiness and leaving my responsibilities with someone else.

(And hundreds of working moms just decided to slap me right in my face if they see it at BlogHer. Please understand that is NOT what I mean. I’m worried because I am upsetting my own personal status quo for what is basically a girl’s weekend, not making a general sweeping statement about leaving babies for any reason.)

I suppose I could bring her. Lots of people bring their babies. It’s not unheard of. Since all of my roommates are moms -plus one of my roommates is pregnant and one is leaving her own nursing baby at home – I’m sure they would understand. She’s an incredibly easy going baby (BESIDES THE BOTTLE THING) and loves people and would probably have a great time distracting me from the sessions and making me whip my boob out in front of all my blogging idols.

So there it is. I don’t WANT to bring my baby to BlogHer. I’ve been looking forward to this mommy-gets-a-break time for more than 2 years and nothing would ruin that faster than 20 hours of travel time in 4 days with a baby in tow. I want to wear real bras that hold my chest up and dresses and high heels. I want to have TWO glasses of wine and not feel like I’m abusing my child. I want to be awake at 2 am because I WANT TO BE, not because a baby needs me.

That sounds SO SELFISH, right? What kind of mother thinks that? It’s not Caroline’s fault she loves me and needs me, she’s a freakin’ BABY. And like my husband keeps pointing out, BlogHer will be there next year. This is not my LAST CHANCE IN THE WORLD to go have fun with my interwebs friends. But at this point it’s too late to not go at all without being out a big chunk of change and letting down at least one person I was looking forward to meeting in person.

I would never have even bought a ticket if I knew Caroline was going to be just as stubborn about the bottles as her brother. But now it’s down to the wire and I’m so stressed about it I am literally making myself sick.

Seriously, what do I do?

Related posts:

Maternity Photos
Wednesday Walks
A Little About A Lot Of Things

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33 Responses to “On Leaving My Children”

  1. Miranda says:

    First, working mama here and I don’t want to slap you. And anyone who does will have to go through me because you were so not saying that WOHMs shirk their responsibilities.

    Second, you go. And you cry a little and stress a little and enjoy yourself A. LOT. Caroline will be fine. Little E will be fine. E will be fine. YOU will be fine.

    And E–if you read the comments–if Suzanne calls and things are not fine, TELL HER THEY ARE FINE. Wait until after she gets home to tell her Caroline was anything other than her usual adorable self, if you even tell her at all! You will get major husband points for handling the crises and a recharged (however slightly jetlagged) wife will come home to you!

    • I could not possibly agree with the E not telling you that things aren’t awesome thing more.
      Also, I think babies have gone on nursing strikes longer than 4 days and lived to tell the tale. She will be fine. E might be tired (might. Ha.) But the kids will be fine.

  2. MKP says:

    Give yourself permission to go. You’re not going to ruin anyone’s life by leaving for 3 days. Not E’s, not Lil E’s, not Caroline’s. It might not be everyone’s favorite couple of days, but equal parenting means handling equal responsibilities for equal amounts of time. Give yourself a big hug from me and remember how few therapy stories begin with “One time my mom left me before I was a year old”

  3. Audrey says:

    Go. She will survive. She may not like the bottle, but when she realizes there is no alternative, she’ll take it. It’s the same with Del. She’ll eat baby food some (nothing more than puree, mind)..but she always wants boob after. She won’t take a bottle if she knows I’m there, but when I have things to do or Chris takes her to his mom’s so I can have an afternoon of peace..she eats it right up because that’s all she has. SHE WILL BE FINE. And I will remain jealous. ;)

  4. Krista says:

    GO.
    She will be fine. You may even be pleasantly surprised at how well they do. But if she doesn’t. If she does cry and scream, if Little Evan throws temper tantrums and your husband has a mini breakdown, it will still be OK. They will survive and YOU. DESERVE. THIS.

  5. Kimberly says:

    I understand everything you are saying (right down to the real bra thing- I really miss those!), and there is no one that could read this and think you are selfish or a bad mom! I’m going to keep checking back to read the comments here, because although I sadly won’t be at BlogHer, I desperately need to get over my “trapped” feeling. JD NEVER took a bottle, so I told myself I would not go through that with O. I gave him a bottle daily from the beginning- until we went away & I was too lazy to deal with pumping and bottles on a 10 day road trip, and now he freaks when he sees a bottle. Being torn between the guilt and need for a break is rough. My bright side: I can go to BlogHer and any other conference I want to next year because I’ve saved so much by not going ANYWHERE now. Oh, and you better go to BlogHer and write all about it so I can be insanely jealous & make sure I am there next year.

  6. cakeburnette says:

    Agreeing with everyone above! E is in the Navy–he never deploys or goes TDY? He’ll survive parenting alone for a long weekend. Caroline might be unhappy, but she’ll LIVE. And she won’t REMEMBER this at all. So enjoy your mini-vacation and friends! Sometimes SAHM have trouble remembering that if you NEVER take care of YOURSELF (which includes getting away and having fun), you will NOT be able to take care of everyone ELSE! Stop beating yourself up and just enjoy!

    • bebehblog says:

      I’m not at ALL worried he can’t survive the weekend. If I was leaving him with a baby that always took bottles this would be a non-issue and I’d be peacing-out without even looking over my shoulder. (Although so far, besides a couple of nights away at training, he hasn’t been gone for work at all. He’s going back to a boat soon though and I am not looking forward to it)(Although, again, being deployed for 6 months is a different thing from going away for a party weekend – one is optional but one is for a LOT LONGER.) But like he pointed out today, he simply cannot lactate so this is simply going to be sucky.

  7. eversmommy says:

    I am a mom who travels frequently for work, and I started doing it when Ev was 8 months old and I was still breastfeeding, so I can somewhat relate to how you are feeling. She and your husband will be fine, I promise! And there is nothing wrong with wanting some “me” time, it actually is so good for you! I felt guilty about looking forward to a bed all to myself, and eating meals with other adults, and having a few glasses of wine without guilt that I either had to feed my baby or was a bad mom for caring for him after a few glasses. This is something you need to do, because it really is for you! Do your best not to feel too guilty, miss the heck out of them, but also do your best to have fun and remember that you deserve some time too!

  8. brigid keely says:

    I am PRETTY SURE that Amalah wrote about taking babies to blogher/other events, and it sounded really stressful and unpleasant for both her and the baby.

    Can you start offering the bottle now? Maybe do a little boob feeding so she isn’t starvingfrustrated and then offer the bottle? Sorry, the only advice I have is super obvious advice!

  9. Amanda says:

    I agree she will be fine. But I would just add, that if you need to give yourself permission to take her, do that as well. She’ll be fine EITHER WAY, so if you feel like you’d be less stressed having her with you, go ahead. If you feel like you wouldn’t be able to enjoy the conference because you’d be worrying about getting her somewhere quiet to nap or whatever, then leave her at home. But either one is a good option.

    I have a baby girl – Alice – who’s about 2 weeks older than Caroline (Dec. 6) and also doesn’t take a bottle or any significant amount of solids. Personally I would take her, because I’d be less stressed worrying about her if she was with me than if she wasn’t… but I am a control freak. I’m definitely not saying that’s what you should do, just that you should feel okay about doing it if you want to.

    My situation is totally different. I don’t have a toddler as well and my DH has very little experience soothing Alice – because of the whole constantly-attached-to-the-boob thing – and also because of the control freak thing, so every time she gets upset I’m like “Here, let me deal with it” – so that would contribute to my decision. I know that for Alice, BF is just as much about comfort as it is about food, so even if she would take a bottle I think she’s still be pretty unhappy.

    The other thing I would think about is pumping. If you don’t take her, you’ll be doing a lot of pumping while you’re away. Maybe even on the plane, I guess? I personally HATE pumping, so that plays into my decision to almost always take Alice with me anywhere – so again, another place where your experience probably differs.

    I realize I sound like I’m telling you to take her. I’M NOT. I’m sorry that it’s coming across that way! She has two loving parents who are both great at taking care of her in different ways, and she’ll be absolutely fine with either of them. Good luck!

    • bebehblog says:

      I appreciate your perspective! It helps to hear what you think because it made me realize I would NOT be less stressed with her along. Especially because she’s at that easily-distracted stage where I HAVE to find someplace quiet and alone to nurse her and it would be so so so so stressful trying to do that in airports/on planes/at the hotel.

  10. Mama Fisch says:

    Okay, I am going to give it to you straight.
    GO TO BLOGHER. You deserve it, it is going to rock and I am jealous.
    But….
    Resolve the bottle before you leave. It is going to suck but do it. Force the ONE feeding ( I suggest the last of the day) to be from the bottle. It will suck. Make E give the bottle and leave the room and pump. Suffer through a day, a couple of days, a week of hell to get Caroline adjusted to the bottle. She will adjust. She will. She will eventually give in. (E will have to stand strong!) But you will at least be there to support him before and after it. I think leaving cold turkey could backfire…maybe.
    I thought my ped was nuts when she told us to introduce the bottle at one week. We did, because we are rule followers like that, and it was the best thing we did b/c it allowed us to have two methods to feed so I never felt “tied to” Brady.

    • bebehblog says:

      We’ve been talking about doing something like that, just to make SURE she adjusts before I’m too far away to be able to help.

  11. Robyn says:

    What about a trial separation before the trip? Take little E for a day just the two of you, and see how she does. i think she’ll do fine when you go on the longer trip, though. babies have a way of knowing when they can get away with things and when they can’t. and they are always different when it’s just them and Daddy, in my experience.

  12. Amanda says:

    Yes, I came back to add one more thing, which is basically what Mama Fisch said. As you said in your post, the absolute worst possible outcome is that she wouldn’t eat/drink the whole time you’re away, so I would do everything you can to make sure that you know that’s not going to happen. I would take it even further and have E on duty with bottles for a full day if you can, in order to see if she really will take it when she gets hungry. (The reason I would go to such lengths to check this is that I’ve read that babies who aren’t used to bottles won’t necessarily take them when they get “hungry enough” because they don’t actually understand that the bottle has anything to do with satisfying hunger.) If that works and you know that she will eat eventually, then she’ll be fine with E. If she doesn’t… then at least you know that before you leave.

    • bebehblog says:

      I think the plan is for me to get up with Little E and head out to the Aquarium solo for a whole morning – that way when Caroline wakes up hungry she’s stuck with a bottle as her only option for at least 4 or 5 hours and we can see if she caves. Hopefully she realizes what the bottle is for and I can just STOP WORRYING. Thanks!

  13. Joni says:

    I have one of those don’t take a bottle kids. So I’m going to try to give you practical advice. Try this bottle: It’s the only one Ella even remotely liked. http://www.amazon.com/First-Years-Breastflow-Bottle-Ounce/dp/B001QVG9YS

    EVen if she hates that bottle. She won’t starve. She’s smart. She’ll figure it out. Enjoy yourself. You’ll come home refreshed and a better mom for it.

  14. the grumbles says:

    GO. I went away for a girls/blogging weekend when Jude was about 11 months (so not as young as Caroline, obviously) but I was still nursing full time and I was terrified that it would force him to early wean and that my husband would be lost without me and there would be screaming and I’m an awful mother for leaving and– deep breath. I did miss them (and kinda feel guilty) but I had fun getting to be non-mom me again. You deserve that. There wasn’t screaming (that I know of, if there was thank god he didn’t tell me I would have died) and the boys were fine. It’s not crazy or bad to take a few days for yourself. Really really. And I wouldn’t want to bring a baby either, not that it would be terrible but it’s a lot of extra work. Give yourself permission to have fun! Please!

  15. Denae says:

    Breathe! Being able to take a bottle is an important skill for a baby. You arent abandoning her. You are empowering her! Teaching her! You are best mom! Go take your girls trip. She will survive. Your husband wont want to kill you (when you get back). She will never learn if you dont take the time to teach her.

    I hate the screaming. It makes me want to die. I totally understand the feelings and Evan being better at dealing with it. Its not as big of a deal as our crazy mom brains make it out to be. 7-8 months is pretty old. She will be okay. I am sure she knows that she can trust you and that no one is intent on torturing her.

  16. Michelle says:

    We are working on sleep right now and the suggestion to help minimize crying was for me to be completely gone from the house for at least 2 hours prior to bedtime so that the baby knew I was gone and she wasn’t going to get nursed by screaming. I think the same thing will happen if you’re gone. She may scream, but it will probably be much less than you expect because you’re not there. And then she’ll take a bottle and be fine. The other options don’t sound like they would be good for mom, and a happy, emotionally healthy mom and a strong marriage is much more important to the baby than one weekend of no boobs. I would make sure that E knows to pay attention to wet diapers and the inside of her mouth for dehydration if she is not eating at all, then ask him to lie to you and tell you she’s fine, because she will be. Mine has gotten a couple of stomach bugs and she was fine for a while without eating. Now, if I could only take my own advice and get a vacation! Will you pump while you’re gone? I worry too much about my own discomfort. That’s what keeps me from being serious about a vacation.

    • bebehblog says:

      I guess I HAVE to pump to keep up my supply (and keep my boobs from exploding) but I almost never pump – and I’ve never done it INSTEAD of nursing, so that’s something else I’ll have to research. Luckily I have a small, handheld pump that works great.

  17. I didn’t read all the comments, so this is probably such a repeat.

    Bronwyn did not take bottles. Like at ALL. I had to go back to work (don’t worry I did not read your statement as anything slap-worthy, tangent: now I’m thinking of Slapsgiving and the Slap game from How I Met Your Mother) and I had to take her to daycare. She protested, but when girl was hungry? She ate. She did not starve to death.

    Go and party your butt off. I’ll help you. As a SAHM you are on with your kids 24 hours a day. You need a break. That is the furthest thing from selfish. Have fun, and I’ll see you in San Diego. I’ll be the one freaking out in the corner.

    • bebehblog says:

      Thanks Eileen. That’s what the message boards I stalk read seem to say – that even if baby NEVER took a bottle, once they went to daycare or mom wasn’t available they changed their tune really fast. I can’t wait to hug you!

  18. Swistle says:

    I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do. By which I mean I’m going to put this in bossy tones as if I”m ordering you, but actually I won’t be invested in you doing what I say, and I will instead be sympathetic to whatever you decide to do. No, let’s start over, because this is losing the necessary bossiness.

    I’m going to tell you what you’re going to do. You’re going to go to BlogHer without her, and you’re going to have a wonderful time. Except for the times you are sitting in the bathroom with the stupid pump to keep your supply up. But other than that, A GREAT TIME.

    Before you go to BlogHer, you’re going to collect tips from other nursing mothers who left a baby who wouldn’t take a bottle—so that you know it can be done from a survival standpoint, and so your husband has a list of ideas to work with.

    I left a nurser behind for four days, and he wouldn’t take a bottle. I was leaving before he’d usually wake up, so I woke him up twice to nurse him before I left, to start him with a full tank and to start myself with an empty one. She eats from a spoon, yes? Then your husband can mix breastmilk or formula with the baby food, and she will get the nutrients that way even if she won’t take a bottle even once the whole time you’re gone. He can make it extra soupy if she’ll take it that way, to get extra fluids. Will she eat watermelon? grapes? Those are basically little cactii, water-storage-wise. Also, does she try to drink water in the tub, or suck on a washcloth in the tub? Then she will have a bath, or maybe TWO baths, per day, and she will get more liquids that way. She can play with a sippee cup at her high chair; she might drink some if it’s just for fun. If she gets thirsty, she will find all these things (soupy food, cactii food, washcloths, sippee cups) more appealing.

  19. molly says:

    Lady? You’re going. Were you talking about me when you said at least one person would be disappointed? Because if you’re not then there are at least TWO people. I can completely understand your feelings. Completely. I am really conflicted about leaving my boys for 5 days when I am gone from them 5 days a week for work! But then I think, life is short and it’s my life too, ya know? I have given up so much for them. I give up things every single day, very willingly I might add. But this? This is for me! This conference is for us! And I have a feeling that we’ll never ever forget this weekend :)

    Did I mention you’re going? Because YOU ARE.

  20. So I’m not a mom (but you knew that. remember that conversation in the car driving through Minneapolis when Allison was half asleep?? fun times!). And me not being a mom means you get to ignore everything I say. But since you didn’t qualify the question to mamas only I’m commenting.

    Go. Enjoy it. Soak it up. This is a chance for you to recharge. And E will figure it out. And so will your adorable ginger-haired girl.

  21. holy crap, you’ve already gotten an amazing amount of great advice so i’m not sure what more could be said other than you deserve this weekend to yourself. E is just as much their parent as you & i bet they will end up having a great time together. you will have an amazing time (you know this) and will be a better mom in the long run having gotten time away to catch your breath. also, i may have missed this if it was mentioned but have you had an experimental no-boob weekend? i’m sure you have, but maybe just really try it? i dunno. anywho, just go. baby-less.

  22. Kodi says:

    You go. I’m a firm believer that these breaks…whether it’s a date night, weekend away or an hour alone at the grocery store…make me a better parent. She will take a bottle if she is hungry enough. If she doesn’t, she will be okay on the foods she will eat.

  23. […] like there have been a lot of posts popping up this week about BlogHer. Ones like Katie‘s, Suzanne‘s, Diana‘s, Miranda‘s & Alena‘s about their nerves. I commented on […]

  24. Julie S. says:

    I totally know where you are coming from, because I also have a hard time leaving Brayden with anyone- and he is almost 2! BUT you need this time to recharge. Parenting isn’t fair, it’s a team effort, and I am sure E knows that! :)

  25. Anna says:

    I know this is a little after (or during) the fact, but re: the bottle issue. My Amelia is 6 months and refuses the bottle. I am about to go back to work full time. We’ve been building up to the full 9 hour separation and are at 6 hours apart now. Dad offers her the bottle of my milk, she chews on it a little, rolls her eyes. Drinks a few sips of cool water from dads cup during the day and is happy as a peach when I pick her up. I think swistle’s ideas are great. She probably just won’t eat much while you’re gone but as long as she’s sucking up some water she should be fine.

    Hope you have a great time! I can’t wait to hear how it goes! And be prepared to nurse for an entire day when you return :)

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