Daycare Diaries: Day 1

You guys know how I feel about returning to work and leaving my babes. I’ve shared stories here and here. Oh yes- and here too!

As you know, I’m crushed- it truly feels so unnatural to leave your baby. 
Thankfully we found a wonderful woman to care for Cooper. You could see how much her and Coop bonded when we had our “interview” a few weeks ago around my birthday. And let me tell you- finding her was a gift. 
On Thursday, we did a dry run with daycare because I had an all company meeting to attend. 
Even though I was so sad to leave him, I found myself getting excited about dressing up and socializing! Goodbye yoga pants, hello new sweater dress.
Still rocking my post-baby curves!
I spent most of my morning snuggling with Coop and taking hilarious selfies: 
“WHAT?! I’m going to daycare today!?”

Whyyyyy sooooo serious, Coop!?
“I farted.”

And he kicked around with captain calamari for a bit. 

“I’m not so sure about you anymore, Captain Calamari.”

SO handsome!!! And finally getting some more hair.

By 11:45 am, I had everything packed up for Coop’s first time at daycare. I know I over packed, but that’s just my style. 
I prepare.

I plan.

And I (over)pack!! 

Before we left the house, I had a pep talk with Coop. And I made him promise not to forget me…

When we pulled into the driveway, tears filled my eyes. 
“Get it together…it’s just a few hours!” 
I took a deep breath like my friend Erin reminded me to do and went to grab Coop. 
He was kicking, smiling, and being his normal happy self (thank goodness he is feeling better ….leaving a sick baby would be even harder).

The front door was open.

I knocked and waited for her to come greet us.

She looked so happy and excited.

Her house was beautiful -decorated with Christmas decorations and cleaner than our house. Way cleaner. I could pretty much see my reflection in the floors and loved smelling that the fresh lemon scent. She must have majored in “cleaning” at college. Clearly I missed the memo on that course. Sorry, Justin.

Anyway, Christmas music was playing in the background. And I noticed she had a Christmas baby book laid out on the counter (she later told me how excited she was to read that book to Cooper).

I dropped off Coop and ran back out to the car to get his other bag and bouncy chair. I wanted to feel like he was at home as much as possible.

When I got back into the house, she was already holding Coop.

He was smiling at her and she was laughing.

“He is so full of personality,” she said. “We will have a blast today!”

And before I could say anything, she added, “And look at you! You look fabulous!!”

Good call, Lora. Make me feel better about myself. Distract me from leaving my son with your kind words and compliments. I knew I liked you…

It worked for a minute and then my heart melted as I watched her and Coop interact with each other.

And that’s when it happened. 
The pressure built up in my throat. 
My eyes got warm. 
And I made the face -the ugly “I am tying so hard not to cry but it’s about to burst out of me!” face. 
Lora looked up and caught me crying. 
“I promise we will have a blast,” she said. “I know exactly how you feel! But save the tears for Kindergarten – that’s when it really gets hard.” 
And then the water works came pouring out. 
Maybe it was because she was so kind. 
Maybe it was because Coop is already growing up to fast. 
Maybe it was because I didn’t want to leave him- not today or ever. 
I’m guessing it was all three of those emotions and feelings….
“I am just so thankful we found you,” I said as tears poured down my face. 
I looked at Coop, who was still smiling and loving life. 
“He means so much to me and I am just happy we found someone who will treat him so well,” I said choking up again. 
We shared some more small talk and she kept assuring me that everything will be fine.

“Have fun, today!” She said. “It’ll be good for you to get out of the house. And we’ll have lots of fun here too! I kept telling my husband about how amazing Cooper is…he’s such a happy and easy baby!”

I thanked her again and snuggled up with Coop one more time.

I found the courage to walk back to the car. 
Alone. 
Without my heart. 
I barely made it off her porch before I looked back to see his face again.

She already had the door closed, but I could still see them through the glass.

They seemed to be dancing around the house to the Christmas music.
I took a deep breath – he will be fine. 
Once I got to my work meeting, I was extremely thankful to see familiar faces. Everyone was so supportive and kind. I shared some laughs and even ate food from one of my favorite places (McCallister’s Deli). 
About 30 minutes into our separation, I got this sweet picture of Coop from Lora. 
Happy boy. Daycare is DEFINITELY harder on me than Coop.

Driving home was the best part though – my excitement to see him was overwhelming. And when I arrived back at her house – I was so happy to hear how well Coop did at daycare. 
He was really sleepy when I picked him up. So when we got home, I got the chance to snuggle up with him on my chest, which is the best part of my day! 
A sleepy baby on your chest might be the best feeling ever.

And when he woke up, he was as happy as ever! 
Smiling so big his nose crinkled up.

And I was reminded by his facial expressions and stories that he definitely missed me too! 
Telling me stories about his day.

Tomorrow is the big (sad) day! My first official day back to the office. I plan to take it day by day …  Minute by minute. 
Justin is coming with me in the morning to drop off Coop. I’m so thankful that Justin will be my side in the morning…And  I know I’ll be greeted with supportive and happy faces on Monday at work. 
I’ll miss my Cooper so incredibly much, but I have to trust in my heart that Coop is in good hands. He will have fun, share lots of smiles, and appreciate his new friends! 
And I will be eager for picture and text updates all day long! The best part of my day will be picking Coop up after a long day apart from him. I know I will appreciate our time together so much. I’ll still manage to get in my 30 million kisses I give him each day. We can watch our episode of LIVE with Kelly and Micheal online together. And I’ll absolutely snuggle with him and listen to his stories until he gets sick of talking!
I’m trying to stay strong. And I am praying for mental strength and positivity tomorrow (and every single day I have to spend apart from my baby).
Thanks to all of you for your support and encouragement as we start this new chapter and routine together. So many of you have lifted me up with your positive experiences and encouragement.

I keep reminding myself of the comments / advice that people have given me…here are a few that get me through (in case any other moms out there are looking for some perspectives about returning to work from maternity leave):

It’s the hardest at the beginning. It does get easier. Unfortunately people judge you regardless, but do what’s right for you. Personally, I thought I wanted to stay home full time, but once I found a job I love, who is flexible with working moms. ..I want to go back. I like feeling like I’m still me. And I’m a better mom when I get home. And I’m able to do fun things with them without feeling like” I shouldn’t be doing this, we can’t afford it.” If you choose to stay home, a career will always be there. But don’t be fooled with the comments like” you’ll miss out on everything. ” because you won’t. And coop will not forget you and he will always know your his mama.” 

Oh man, I wish I had a great secret, but for me it has just been getting a little easier everyday… It’s still hard though and it’s been 3 months.. What I do is keep very very busy so I don’t have time to think, and try to remember that I’m working so she can have a nice home, clothes, all that.. I also actually pulled up my student loans and printed my total to remind myself I have to work both to pay them and so hopefully I can help (my daughter)- it will come back to u how important it is to have a part of your life that’s just about you (work) …..Also ask if they can send u pics- my daycare will even FaceTime if I freak out.”  

PS I’d like to add that moms who stay at home STILL working a full-time job! It’s a lot of work to raise children – and you make a TON of sacrifices too! Whether a mom decides to work or not is a hard decision….and each family needs to make that decision based on their unique situation. No mom should ever be judged for her decision to work again or stay home with her kid(s). 

Much love, 
Ashley 

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