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.