She Says… Breaks My Heart

For the vast majority of the year, my job is super flexible. I work from home often. If I need to take an afternoon off to take Owen to the doctor (which, as you know, happens all the time) I can easily adjust my schedule to accommodate it. My commute is easy, even from our new place in the ‘burbs. My manager is wonderful, and totally understanding about the fact that life comes before work. But every few weeks I run an in-person training program (for several days or up to 2 weeks) that requires me to be in early to set up before people arrive, attend dinners and other evening events, and then stay late to be the one signing the check. Though they are generally in Boston, sometimes they are held in other states and once in awhile even other countries (hence getting stuck in Munich last year while very pregnant). The days are long, and when I am the one in charge, there is not a lot of room for flexibility. Thankfully I also love this part of my job.

The good news is that these dates are planned far in advance, so Benjamin is able to block the days off in his calendar and we can be prepared for them. The bad news is that they still, inevitably, fall at inopportune times.

Last week and this week is one of those times.

This week a dear friend of my family’s died and I am missing her funeral. I just couldn’t figure out how to make the travel work, so I won’t be there to be with my father as he mourns the loss of his best friend. Last week Owen’s daycare was closed for a week and Benjamin was (and still is) working on a huge project for work, so we were like ships passing in the night to make sure Owen was cared for. We had a babysitter come for a few days and Owen had one person putting him down for a nap and woke up to someone else. He was given bottles in different laps every day and although we generally stuck to his schedule, things were far from normal.

I missed two bedtimes in a row already, and I’m missing tonight’s bedtime as well.

Even though it’s a short term situation, it breaks my heart.

And even though Owen is remarkably flexible and easygoing, I think it’s taking a toll on him as well. Yesterday both of his daytime naps were 30 – 45 minutes, when usually they are reliably 1.5 – 2 hours. He went down to sleep fine for Benjamin at bedtime, but woke at 4:30am this morning crying. Since he almost never does this anymore, I don’t really let him cry much, since it almost always means something is wrong (he’s wet or his teeth hurt or he threw lovey overboard). I went in to see him and you should have see how big his teary eyes got in the dark room when he saw my face. He beamed at me and cooed and patted my cheeks and touched my curls. He gazed into my eyes by the soft light of his nightlight and let his eyelids droop in my arms. It was just about the sweetest thing ever. He hadn’t seen me since yesterday morning, and I wonder if he woke up to see if I would be there. I’m so glad I was.

Benjamin thinks I’m crazy for thinking that it has to do with me, but my theory is that since I’ve been coming home while he’s been asleep, that he might think if he wakes up, I’ll be there. So he’s waking up early, hoping I’ll be there. Didn’t work out so well for naptimes, since I was still at work, but it had the intended effect at night. Who knows if he is actually capable of thinking like that, but I’m going to stick with this theory that he misses me 🙂

Needless to say, he didn’t go back to sleep at all this morning, so we’ve all been up since 4:30am. I should have just slept on his floor or something. I can’t blame him for wanting to see me — I wanted to see him! I secretly loved rocking him in the quiet of his nursery this morning. I missed him like crazy. But I don’t want to reward the crying at night so that it becomes a habit.

Thankfully after tomorrow night, I’ll still be working like a madwoman at work during the day, but I should be able to be home by his bedtime. Hopefully he will realize I’m here to stay and will go back to napping regularly and sleeping quietly until a reasonable hour.

Have you had to leave your baby for an “extended” period of time (believe me, I know a few days/bedtimes is not really an extended period of time… but it is for me!)? Did it upset his/her sleep? Is there anything I can do to help him know I’ll be back later? I already wave bye bye and kiss him like I do when I drop him off at daycare, I just think it’s hard for him to figure out when I’m going to come home since it has been so erratic.

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10 responses to “She Says… Breaks My Heart

  1. We haven’t had to do it yet, however, my husband, who is her morning caregiver, is leaving for 10 days for work and I don’t know how my little girl is going to handle it. Luckily, I coerced a grandma to come and stay with us while he is gone, but she only sees grandma over the computer since we live states away from any family. If I were in his situation, I would just die. I know he is going to miss her dearly, but he will be very busy. I just don’t know how she will react to having her Daddy gone. It breaks my heart just thinking about it.

  2. My work schedule is different every day & every week (I run a restaurant), so Eli is used to one person putting him down & another waking him up. However, I rarely work during the day 2 days in a row, so when I do I come home to a baby who really misses his Momma! He is used to Hubby being at work all day every day, but the day after I spend 2 full days at work, he clings to me like glue!

  3. Yeah, this is exactly what I’m stressed/sad about….when I go back to work I will miss bedtime every single Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. 😦 Of COURSE your sweet little Owen misses you, it makes sense he’s hoping to find you in his room every time he wakes up!!! I’m really hoping that our babies can roll with the new sked! Sending you my best vibes for surviving this yuckage spell at work. xoxo

  4. We haven’t had to deal with an extended absence yet. My husband was gone for a couple of nights and I could tell that Will was pretty excited to see his daddy after he returned. I can imagine the as easy going as Owen is, any change in the schedules can really affect him.

  5. What a strange coincidence. Cameron has been waking up early for the last month 5-5:30 (used to be 6-6:15 wakeups), but yesterday he woke up at 4:10 (very unusual) and I managed to get him back to sleep from 5-5:30, he was up for the day then and had one measly 1 hr nap from 10:30-11:30 and he was UP and casing the house full tilt until his bed time at 6:30. He was in 4 wheel drive all day long and that was the LONGEST he’s ever been awake. He didn’t seem cranky either like I would have expected.

    Sorry not a huge help to your dilemma but Kara also had an early day yesterday with Faith – our babies are in cahoots!

  6. I’ve never had to do this, but I have read that baby sleep cycles are 60-90 minutes long, so they are always waking up a little and then falling back asleep. Your theory works then if Owen is remembering your absence during one of those “roll over and fall back asleep” moments and starts crying.

    I’m sorry you’re so busy and I hope it gets calmer soon!

  7. My husband just started residency and he used to wake up the baby every other day … now, when I go in to get her in the mornings, my baby looks around me, points to the door and says “Daddy!” It breaks my heart! I’m hoping that she stops doing this soon since he goes in at 4:30 every morning (respect your surgeons people!) and won’t ever be the one getting her. Fortunately, he’s there most days to put her to sleep.

  8. Yes, I totally know what you are going through. The last few weeks of school in June I was so busy and had events almost every night after work. Whether it was a graduation dinner for our 8th graders, or a kindergarten tea for next year’s K class, I was barely home at night for two weeks. My parents helped, my husband was there when he could, but I felt like I hadn’t seen my baby in forever! She slept okay, but she was also teething so she had a few early morning wake-ups–but I actually think that was her little toothies coming in. But that week I went in my LOs room and picked her up when I got home for some snuggles and she woke up, smiled, and then went back to sleep once i put her down. I know it’s bad but I couldn’t resist, I missed her too much.

  9. Hi Kate,

    I’m sure it will all be better soon. I had to go abroad for 2 weeks when my little one was only 4 1/2 months old and it was hell for both of us. I missed him like crazy and was very emotional during my entire trip. He also ended up moving from cot to bed with his daddy because he knew something was not quite right. Don’t even get me started on the fun of pumping the boobs on a long-haul flight in order to maintain supply. I swear people thought I was a total freak when I came out of the toilet!

  10. PsychReader

    Hi Kate, I am doing dissertation work on infertility and found your blog on a Google search that was more procrastination than formal work (and no worries- def not using any of your info- I will be conducting interviews). 🙂 I really enjoy reading your honest, energetic accounts of your days with your husband and son. Your pictures and ideas are beautiful!

    I’m a doctoral student in clinical psych and have a background in child development, and I can say that a) your baby seems securely attached! yay! And b) “it takes a village”- that is, there are many cultures where many special people join together to help take care of babies, and babies are just fine! This doesn’t at all undermine your relationship with your son- just means more good people in his life. 🙂 But hope you guys get some quality time together soon.

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