This past Saturday was a milestone day for not only Snow Pea, but for Chad and myself as well. After 3 months and 3 weeks of parenthood we left our daughter with someone other than one of us for the very first time. Up until this Saturday, I had had some alone time, as had Chad and we have had family dates, which have been nice. Eliana is an easy going baby for the most part and we have been able to take her with us to visit with friends, enjoy restaurant dinners and even see drive-in movies. But as great as that is (and it really is really great) Chad and I have not really been alone together at all since she was born.
For most first time parents, the first sitter is usually a family member. Grandparents or aunts and uncles are always begging for the chance for some baby alone time and offer to give mom and dad a break in the process. Unfortunately for us though, the closest family members either Chad or I have right now are 1500 miles away and most are even further away, so that hasn't been an option for us. Of course, both sets of parents and all of our siblings have come to visit, but we get such a short amount of time with them and we want to soak up every second we do get.
That's not to say no one wants to spend time with our precious girl for an hour or two, it's just a little harder to leave her for the first time with someone other than those immediate family members. It also doesn't help that the majority of those babysitting offers are for us to bring her to them, which is not only overwhelming for us with having to pack up all her stuff to drop her off, but also for her because she not only has to spend 3 hours with a new person, she is also forced into a whole new environment. I have been really nervous about how the first babysitter experience would affect both Eliana and me so even though I have been dying for some alone time with Chad, I've kept pushing it back.
But this past weekend it was finally time. A co-worker/friend of Chad's has been pleading to be surrogate grandma/babysitter since she found out we were TTC as she knows we don't have family here. She has been a supportive person in our lives and on our journey. As an IF & IVF survivor and an adoptive parent, she has provided us with a lot of guidance and support and is incredibly trustworthy. And now that her two kids are too grown up to be considered children anymore but not grown up enough yet to have their own children, she is dying to spoil our little one. So Saturday night we packed up the diaper bag, rolled up the play mat and headed out the door.
We are both huge Harry Potter fans and have read the books multiple times. The movies aren't quite as big of a deal to either of us but that doesn't mean I didn't want to see the very last one in theaters if I could, and of course I wanted to see it with my favorite fellow fan. We researched the times, mapped out Eliana's routine for the day and made it to D's house just as she was waking up from a nap and in the best possible mood. Once we got there, we got her changed and fed and gave some simple instructions on what to expect over the next 3 hours, then set off for the theater.
My stomach was fluttering with nerves as we walked out. It felt so weird to be in the car without her. You know that feeling when something that should be with you isn't and you feel naked? Well this was like that except I felt more like I was missing an arm. I didn't cry or freak out about leaving her. But I missed her the second we were gone. We both did.
We still enjoyed the movie and our alone time though. We had popcorn, we sat through the previews and the credits (something I always do-yes, I'm odd) we laughed, we held hands, and enjoyed being on a real date. I did make Chad keep his phone out the entire movie and kept insisting he check it every so often, just in case, but no calls ever came and for the most part we relaxed and had fun. I am proud to say we didn't even panic and call as soon as the movie ended. Chad checked in by text then we sat down to talk over a quick dinner and some coffee. It was a lot like our pre-baby date nights. Except that it didn't feel anything like it did pre-baby because although we were having fun, we were both excited to get back to our little girl.
As we walked up to the house we could hear everyone inside chatting happily and we smiled as it seemed that things had gone well. But the instant she saw our faces, Eliana lost it. She was crying hysterically, and it was not a cry we had ever heard before. It was not "I'm hungry" "I'm bored" or her personal favorite "I'm tired". This cry was an emotional one. She missed us. She was sad that we were gone. It broke my heart to hear her sob like that I just wanted to scoop her up and hold her close the whole way home. Of course common sense and car seat laws kept me from doing that, but I sat in the backseat with her the whole ride home as she hugged tightly onto my hand refused to let go, even as she drifted off into a fitful sleep. Once we got her home and into her comfort zone, we could visibly see the relief and contentment on her face as we cuddled her. She relaxed right back into her familiar surroundings and smiled and cooed at us a few times before getting a good night's sleep.
D said Eliana did pretty well while we were gone that night. She played, had a bottle and enjoyed all the attention she was getting, but she did have a hard time napping, I think largely because she was in a new environment. I felt so guilty seeing my poor girl so tired and emotional. So Chad and I have agreed that the next time we have anyone babysit, we will try to have it be at our house, that way even though the faces will be new at least the rest of her world will be the same. And even though I am still a little nervous, we are going for it again this weekend!
Two good friends of ours, a married couple that doesn't have kids yet, offered to come to our place to spend time with Snow Pea while we go out. So thanks to their kindness and generosity, we are trying again, this time to see Bill Cosby perform at the county fair. I am both nervous and excited. Since they are coming here I feel like I will better be able to prepare them and keep Snow Pea in her routine, not to mention I think I will be better able to prepare myself and calm my nerves. And if the nerves do happen to creep in while we're out, hopefully Bill can keep me laughing. Wish us luck!