Thursday, December 11, 2008

Separation anxiety part 2

And so it has finally happened. The baby is in daycare, and I am back at work. As predicted, the separation seems to be way harder on the adult in this relationship. BR, while not always thrilled to be in the care of other people, seems nevertheless to be adjusting very well. She does not want to be bothered with saying goodbye in the morning, choosing instead to crawl over to the mountain of toys to explore and discover what new playthings have been set out this morning. When I come pick her up, she's delighted to see me, and spends her time pointing out things of interest in the room (decorations, toys etc).

Once we get home, she's just her cheery old self, especially if DH is around to play with her. This is very much a relief for us, since I've seen several babies of friends who got so upset about being sent to daycare, that they are mopey and clingy at home. This may still happen for BR, but for now she's doing great.

The funny thing is that a lot of people tend to take credit, or blame themselves for how their kid adjusts to daycare. For example, people say that their kid adjusted well, because they had had regular babysitters. But when it comes to BR, the only thing I tried to do is not let my anxiety show so that BR would not have negative connotations about daycare (I did that mostly through denial ;)). So really, the reason she's doing so well with this transition, is because of her personality, and not anything we did to "prepare" her for this. She is secure in her attachment to me, and that has definitely been helped by spending the year with her, but in the end, I don't believe that's the most important piece of the puzzle. She was born very curious and independent, and because of that, daycare seems to work for her.

Of course now I'm realizing I was secretly hoping that daycare would not work for her, and that I would be "forced" to quit and stay home with her for another little while. Yes, indeed, I am having way more trouble with this transition than she is. I keep wondering how she's doing, I catch myself wondering when she's going to wake up so I can go pick her up (pretty much the only time spent without her for the last year was when she was taking a nap). Digging myself out from under 6000 email messages at work doesn't seem nearly as important as helping BR walk around the room by holding her little hands...

They say you have to give it some time, and I'm prepared to do that for sure. But so far, this seems to have been the hardest part of being a parent this whole year. With the possible exception of watching my baby being sick. Sigh!

P.S. Not helping matters is the fact that the daycare providers are not letting BR use the potty, even though I have provided one, and she does make a sign when she needs to go. I can imagine this is more frustrating for her than it is for me, as she's been so good about roaming around the house diaper free. You win some, you lose some I guess.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Separation anxiety

I was really trying to post more frequently... Not being very successful, though. Not for lack of thinking of things to say (it seems I'm always composing a post in my head these days), just lack of prolonged quiet computer time I guess.

And now it's almost time for me to go back to work. I'm going back next week. Just a month shy of BR's first birthday. Which seems odd to many people, since I am entitled to take the whole year off. But I've decided to go back early for many reasons. For one, I was off work for a whole month before BR was born (though technically the first 4 weeks were just vacation, so I am still entitled to another 4 weeks off). Financially, this makes a lot more sense, because I will be paid my full salary during the Christmas shutdown (instead of just employment insurance) while still staying at home with BR. Also, it allows DH to take the whole month off with pretty much full salary - good benefits at the government! From the perspective of my job, going back for those few weeks in December will allow me to get back into the swing of things while everyone else is winding down for their holidays. Coming back in January, I would have to hit the ground running, no time to get back into the groove. It also makes the whole daycare thing easier: we were so lucky to get a spot in a local licensed daycare (only 30 spots for one year olds in all of Kanata), starting in December, so we gladly took it. We can introduce BR to the daycare quite slowly, especially with DH at home and me going back to work slowly. On the other hand, I am sure I will be glad to be going to work while BR is in daycare, cause if I was still on leave I would probably be stressing out big time...

Which brings me to the topic of the day: separation anxiety. Not BR, though, so far she's doing great, and while we dropped by the daycare today, she had no trouble being held and fed by the daycare teachers. We'll see what happens when I'm not in the room (that will be next Monday). I am actually starting to get worried about myself. I've been preparing myself mentally to go back to work for the last few weeks, and I thought I was doing fine. And then this afternoon, while hanging out at home with BR, I found myself getting annoyed at the tiniest little things... I finally realized, that I had been somehow putting great pressure on myself to make sure our last few days of full togetherness were "perfect". Which of course is an impossible task when you're talking about life with a baby (if there's anything I've learned over the last year, it's the value of "going with the flow" :)). That's when I realized how much I am actually dreading this whole return to work. I've been putting on a brave face, for BR, for DH, and even for myself, and stuffing down those feelings of dread... Well, they finally resurfaced today.

Now, I'm still going to go ahead with the daycare, and going back to work. The plan from the start was to give it all a chance, and I'm still planning to do that. At first, I'm just concentrating on getting to the Christmas holidays. We'll see how everyone feels at that point, and reassess. Yes, I am expecting a major setback when it comes to potty training (BR has been using her own version of the "toilet" sign for almost two weeks, and we've been diaper-less with minor accidents only whenever we're home). Yes, it's quite upsetting to be forcing her hand in the weaning process, especially since she's been using the sign for "milk" for a month now, and seems a little confused that I've stopped honoring her requests (not to mention the physical discomfort that comes with eliminating a few nursings in a short period of time). But mostly, I just want to make sure she doesn't appear to be feeling ignored at the daycare, and that hanging out with friends makes up at least a little bit for being separated from her parents for the major part of the day.

As long as she's still her happy little self, I think I'll be able to focus on work at some point (maybe by the time January rolls around). In the meantime, I have to try really hard to not let her see my apprehension over this whole thing. As it is, she's bound to pick up on it at least a little, she's a pretty perceptive girl...