Help me feel better about leaving my baby for a business trip
February 9, 2011 3:09 PM   Subscribe

I am going to be away from my baby for five days. Help me know that he will be OK without me.

My first child is seven and a half months old. In two weeks I am going on a non-optional five day business trip. I am nervous about being away from my son for so long. Intellectually I know that he will be well cared for in my absence by his father, his nanny, and a set of grandparents. But he has just in the past two weeks started to develop attachment/separation anxiety issues - crying when I leave, etc. All the time this trip was planned I wasn't worried about it, because he has a very happy personality and loves everyone - and now just before I leave he has started to notice when I am gone!

I am pumping and freezing a stash of breast milk that he can drink when I am gone. He takes a bottle and formula fine. We will be maintaining his usual routine, to the extent possible. I've planned for baby food, diapers, all the practical stuff. And we're in the middle of sleep training in the hopes of making that easier on all concerned as well. Dad has taken over the night-time ritual when possible in order to get the little one used to that change.

If you have any ideas of stuff I can do to make this easier on me, baby, and adults, please let me know.

And most importantly, if you've had a similar experience where you had to be away from your kid, please tell me that it's going to be OK and I'm not permanently warping his emotional/psychological development.

Thank you!
posted by bq to Human Relations (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
He'll be fine. I've never had to leave my kids when they were babies, but my best friend travelled for work 1 week a month during the entire first year of her daughter's life. Every other time, her kid (and her mother) came with her, but she did an awful lot of kissing baby and daddy goodbye and getting on a plane.

They found, though it was heartbreaking, that Skype chats &c just made things worse for her daughter. But when she came back? The kid had about 2 days of All Mamma All the Time -- if you have a no-cosleeping rule you might want to consider relaxing it a bit when you get back -- and then bounced right into her every day routine.
posted by KathrynT at 3:15 PM on February 9, 2011

Best answer: Here's what my late MIL used to say: "Don't worry, you'll end up doing *something* that puts them on the psychiatrist's couch. But this? This is not it."

Enjoy the extra sleep (here's hoping you get some) and the wonderful feeling of coming back to your baby.
posted by MonkeyToes at 3:19 PM on February 9, 2011 [26 favorites]

Best answer: He'll be fine and the bond between your husband and your son will just be all the stronger. Think of it as an opportunity for your husband. I"m not suggesting he's not already involved and attached to your son but it's almost inevitable that you have a stronger attachment to your son at this age and your husband needs to know that you trust him and that you know he'll do a great job. It'll be hard on everyone I'm sure but no one will be warped, scarred, or damaged in any way.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 3:20 PM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

Why not have a tape of your voice and some of your unwashed clothing left behind? Scent and sound are powerful keys to familiarity.
posted by adipocere at 3:36 PM on February 9, 2011

He will be fine! Sleep in the same t-shirt for a couple of nights before you go and then tuck it into his crib so that he can smell you and feel close. You can call and sing to him and he might enjoy that. Have your husband reassure him that you'll be back .. I know he's just 7 months but it can't hurt.

This will be MUCH harder on you than on him. When I have to be away from my kid (who's now 4, big difference, but still) I focus on the positive. As in, when I get back, I say, "I'm so happy to see you!" instead of "I missed you so much!"

Safe travels and happy homecoming!
posted by Kangaroo at 3:38 PM on February 9, 2011

Two thoughts:

1. Create a mantra for your self along the lines of: "He is safe. He is being loved. He is being nourished, giggled to, diapered, peek-a-booed, lullabied, and cuddled. He is better than fine.. and I will see him very soon."

2. Set up a Twitter feed that your husband and nanny can text into for you with mundane tidbits of his day: bottle, burp, walk, crying spell for x minutes before bed, teething on Nana's finger, etc.. I think a Twitter feed is better than having them text you directly because your heart won't jump every time your phone bings (including overnight), but whenever you have a moment to check, you'll see that all is well, and will be able to see the whole timeline of events together. It also means you can give them a little space rather than calling every half an hour (or them feeling like they need to call you)....... Just a thought.

Good luck -- I know you (and he) can do it! And yes, make the most of the sleep.
posted by argonauta at 3:45 PM on February 9, 2011 [6 favorites]

Seconding the twitter idea, that he will be fine, that you will be fine, and that it'll be more of a toll on you than him. He'll be all wtf at first if he wants you over everybody else (and it sounds like it by the way you tell it) but he'll be fine and this is his chance to discover other people who are around him and act and smell and look different than you do.
posted by cashman at 3:52 PM on February 9, 2011

Best answer: Had this exact thing happened to this daddy several times. 1. your child will be fine 2. you will remember what it is like to have an identity outside of "mom" and 3. your father and child will bond much more deeply. This last point is key. Although I wouldn't presume to know your particular situation, many men bond much later with their children (especially the first) than women do, and absolutely enforced "face time" with said child may do wonders for said child (and father).

Anecdotally, the first time my wife was away on business when my son was about your child's age, she was in France (we live in NYC), hence utterly unreachable. The night she was coming home on a very late flight, he got some kind of cold (or something, but he was clearly Not Well). I let him sleep in the couch, properly bundled and shielded, as I very quietly cleaned up the house and had George Winston's "December" on repeat play. Yes, it's cheesy as hell, but I didn't know of any other "soothing" music. Although it was rough, I would not trade those four or five hours of worry over my son for anything in the world, if that makes any sense at all.

Now, of course, I worry about his bad taste in Science Fiction.
posted by digitalprimate at 3:59 PM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

Start a letter to him when you're gone; every day that you're gone, add to it. Pictures, postcards, stickers, etc. Put it in his memory box. Someday it will make you both cry.
posted by theora55 at 4:33 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I can't really answer the question, but I can give some advice. How you leave things is totally up to you. A parent that walks away all smiles and says in a confident tone "Goodbye, have a great time." will have no tears and crying or kicking and screaming.

I have had parents drop off kids subconsciously work their kids into crying fits just so they feel missed. It goes like this:
Parent: Goodbye!
Kid(still fine): Bye!
Parent: Arnt you sad I wont see you for 5 whole days and your going to have to spend all this time away from me and I love you but wont be able to hug you goodnight?

This is a bad move, it makes everyone worse off. It can be really hard to accept that your kid is just fine away from you, but they are. Just make sure that the whole thing seems fun and it will be. It sounds absurd that someone would sabotage a goodbye, but you would be amazed at how often I see it, and have to clean up their mess afterwards.

Say your bringing a present when you get back, that way they will be stoked to see you and you do not have to make them cry.
posted by Felex at 4:51 PM on February 9, 2011 [5 favorites]

But he has just in the past two weeks started to develop attachment/separation anxiety issues - crying when I leave, etc.

Then this is the perfect time for him to start developing an equally strong attachment to his daddy too.
posted by ook at 4:54 PM on February 9, 2011

I'm a mother of three, I lvoe my kids with all my heart but I wish I had taken more opportunities to be away from my kids. I even cut my honeymoon short to go home to my three month old. She was fine without me, your little guy will be fine with family and the break is good for you! (I wouldn't see it as five days away - I'd see it as four nights of uninterrupted sleep!)
posted by saucysault at 5:25 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The question is really whether you will be alright. I had to make a similar trip when my daughter, now one, was the same age. It was hell. I texted her father constantly, I sobbed in the hotel room every night, and I looked at pictures of her on my iphone every chance I got. It made me realize how attached I am to her and it was a scary thing to come to terms with. "How do parents do this?" I asked myself. "what is wrong with me as a parent that I can't do this?" etc. etc.

I have no advice except perhaps to say that this is an opportunity to become mindful of your own needs and feelings as an attached being. for me, returning to daily meditation practice was a way of dealing with the overwhelming feelings of being a parent, and more specifically of the enormity of what I stood to lose should anything happen to my daughter. You may find other solutions; I just want you to know that you are not alone and I wish you the best of luck.
posted by Morpeth at 7:02 PM on February 9, 2011

"I hurl you into the world and I pray".
I have a feeling this quote may help you deal with a lot of firsts in his life.
posted by whalebreath at 7:34 PM on February 9, 2011 [3 favorites]

ps: when I returned from my trip I went straight to my daughter's daycare to pick her up. She was playing with some blocks; she looked up, saw me, and gave a cry before crawling into my lap and sucking her thumb. It was a moment of utter contentment for both of us, and it made me realize that the time away had only strengthened the bond between us.
posted by Morpeth at 7:42 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]

The baby will be fine. Go see a movie, have a funny-colored drink or two at dinner, sleep in, and remember that he will not remember this in a few years, no matter what happens, but the grown-ups in his life will remember how you handle it.
posted by SMPA at 8:11 PM on February 9, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. He WAS fine, and so was I.
posted by bq at 3:33 PM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

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