When is it “OK” to leave your breastfed baby with someone overnight for the first time? After consulting Google and scouring the mommy blogs, I got many different answers—ranging from, “as soon as your baby will take a bottle, it’ll be good for you,” to, “how could you even consider abandoning your baby overnight?!”
My husband and I had been invited to the out-of-town wedding of a close friend that would occur at baby Graham’s 9-week mark. All of our friends were going, and we knew the time together as a couple could be great. (A hotel? Wearing something other than yoga pants? A glass of wine? Or three? OMG a king size bed that we can sleep in ALL night uninterrupted?!) Graham had just started to sleep longer than his usual two-hours stints, and my No. 1 fantasy was being able to sleep for six hours straight. But could we leave our little man overnight for the first time? Thinking about leaving him made me feel so guilty. Was considering this trip selfish of us?
Our baby is clearly a boob man. Plastic nipples in general seem to offend him. At that point we had tried six different nipple bottle combinations which all seemed to end in crying fits and wasting lots of that liquid gold (i.e., pumped milk). In addition to the feeding issue, I felt guilty knowing someone else would have to be up with him throughout the night and cope with fussy fits and bottle struggles. Until then, I had only left him for a trip to the grocery store and a doctor’s appointment—and even those times away from him had given me a little anxiety.
My mom kindly offered to watch him overnight for us, and after much stressful deliberation with my husband, I told her that we would not be taking the trip. I couldn’t bear to leave him knowing he would be a hungry, fussy, unhappy baby. But then she said, “Hannah, you have to. He will be fine. It will be good for Graham and for you.” She pointed out that I would be going back to work very soon, and he would have to learn to accept bottles. She repeated what our pediatrician had told us: “He won’t starve himself.” She also pointed out that it was important not to lose the romance in my marriage, which is easy to do when you’re a sleep deprived “mombie” constantly covered in spit-up.
After transporting what seemed like Graham’s entire nursery to my parents’ house, stocking their freezer with breastmilk, and a tearful goodbye, my husband and I headed out of town. It ended up being an absolutely amazing 24 hours. My parents kept us updated with lots of texts and pictures of our little guy. My mom apparently has that grandma baby magic—Graham took bottles from her like a champ! My dad was Mr. Sandman and rocked Graham peacefully to sleep. Little man slept five hours in a row that night! And my husband and I had a fabulous time; we were really able to recharge and reconnect.
My husband and I danced, laughed and hung out with friends late into the evening. I enjoyed my wine guilt-free as I just “pumped and dumped” that night. And then yes, that king size bed in our hotel room was great (ahem) in more ways than one. I didn’t realize how much we had needed the alone time until we had it.
Like my mom said, “Graham will be happier with happy parents who are in love.” Matthew and I came back feeling like our marriage was revitalized and ready to take on life with a newborn again with more patience and joy than before. And coming back to our baby was such a sweet reunion; missing him made his snuggly little body that much sweeter to hold. I can’t tell you how glad I am that we went. Every family and every baby is different, but for us, taking a little time for ourselves two months into the newborn parenting trenches was a blessing for all of us.