Marc and I are inseparable; it is one of the advantages of being a full time mom. He is such a joy to be with. Each smile, each movement, each cry is a new revelation. I don’t want to miss any new happenings. Every second, he comes up with something new. I take pictures of course, make videos, but that is for future record. I want ot live each second with him, now! How can I miss a wiggle of his finger or a smile on his face? We are together 24/7 and I like it that way.
Today started like any other day: our daily routine interrupted by numerous playtimes together. I had no hint of the emotional upheaval that was going to follow.
It is 5:30 p.m. I am waiting for Sam to come back from work. Everything is ready for the baby’s bath. We have been giving him his daily bath together since the day we came back home from the hospital. We all enjoy it tremendously. One hour later, bathed and wearing his yellow pajamas, marc is ready for bed. Here I am in our favorite rocking chair in his room, humming gently to him and blowing him kisses while he sucks greedily on his bottle. There is nothing more satisfying than to see him eat heartily. It satisfies a deep-rooted need in me to provide nutrition to my baby and see him grow. Sam enters the room quietly and stands by us. For a while all is calm and the only noise is the creaking of the rocking chair and my offbeat humming.
“Sofie, let’s go to the movies tonight,” says Sam quietly.
I look at him surprised. “No! We can’t.” I answer.
“Marc has not finished his bottle yet. Then I have to get him ready for the night. I can’t disrupt his routine by taking him to the movies with us. The noise will prevent him from sleeping.”
We won’t take him. My parents will gladly baby-sit. They can come here or we can take him to their place.”
I look at Sam incomprehensibly. Then it finally dawns on me. “You mean leave him with them! Without me!”
“NO!” I whisper forcefully. I stand up and place Marc in his crib. He is sleeping. We tiptoe out of the room. Once in the hallway, I turn toward Sam and say angrily, “I can’t leave him. He is too young.”
“ Once he sleeps, he won’t wake up for a few hours. It will be enough for us to catch a movie and be back before his next feeding.”
I hate it when Sam has this reasonable tone. He doesn’t try to persuade but states facts that appeal to my logical mind. This time though I will not be swayed.
“What if something happens?”
“My parents are very vigilant. The movie theatre is five minutes away. Mom will call us and we’ll be here in no time.”
“What if wakes up? He will miss me and cry. He is not used to your parents.”
“If he cries, they will call us and we’ll come back right away.”
I sense the determination behind his voice. Sam’s request is reasonable. We won’t be far. Marc is sleeping. His parents are very reliable. On the other hand, he might wakeup, he might cry and although he knows his grandparents, he is not used to being left alone with them. They might drop him. They won’t be able to contact us. We won’t be able to MAKE IT IN TIME…. I start to panic.
“Sofie! Stop it. You’re working yourself into a frenzy. I can see it on your face. Nothing will happen.”
“How can you be so sure? NO! I won’t leave him. I CAN’T.”
“Precisely! You haven’t left him for a minute since we came home from the hospital. This is not healthy.”
“No one can take care of him the way I do.”
“Absolutely! But leaving him for a few hours in safe hands is beneficial.”
“Beneficial to whom?”
“To both of you! He needs to interact with others. We hardly let anyone near him.”
I don’t want to admit it, even to myself, but deep down I know that Sam is right. Why am I so reluctant to follow his advice? Why do I have this panicky feeling at the idea of leaving him for a few hours with his grandparents who dote on him? OH! Why do I have to deal with all of this? Why can’t I do what is comfortable and keep Marc with me at all times? Sam is relentless. His arguments get more and more convincing and irrefutable.
Finally, I give in. I reluctantly agree to take Marc to his grandparents’ and they will baby-sit for couple of hours. The moment I leave the house an intense anxiety grips me. With each mile that gets us nearer to my in-laws, who live a few miles away, my anxiety grows. Once there, after a few minutes of fussing over him, Marc is placed in his pram and a few minutes later he is fast asleep. I give elaborate instructions to my mother-in-law: how to hold him when he cries, how to change his diapers, how to prepare his bottle…. She listens to me patiently and nods her head from time to time. Finally I am out of how to’s. Sam is pulling at my hand. One last look at Marc; he is sleeping peacefully.
Now that the time has come to actually leave him, my anxiety reaches screaming point. I cannot breathe and my heart is beating so fast it is going to jump out of my chest. I decide I can’t go. Sam anticipates my thoughts and while keeping a flow of small talk with his parents pulls me firmly toward the door. We are in the car and driving to the movie theatre. I do have to say that Sam has chosen the bait quite ingeniously. Our favorite date is a movie, popcorn and soda. He knew that I would have refused any other outing. I sit in the car holding my breath, not believing what has really happened. I left my baby! My mood fluctuates from acute anxiety to forced calmness. The prevalent idea is whether it was necessary for me to go through this. I keep asking myself: Is it really good for the baby to be away from me? Why did I let Sam persuade me? By the time we arrive at the movie theatre, I am fuming. I SHOULD HAVE LISTENED TO MY OWN INSTINCTS AND STAYED HOME.
I turn to Sam ready for battle. He anticipates me and says: “Let’s call Mom and check on Marc.” He dials her number and hands me the phone. At the second ring, my mother-in-law answers: “Hello?”
“Hello! It’s me, Sofie. How is Marc doing?”
“He’s sleeping peacefully, not a peep out of him since you left.”
I don’t know how to answer. I was fearfully expecting a calamity and her calm answer confuses me. I feel pretty foolish too.
“OK! That’s great; we’ll call you again later.” I say in a rush and hang up the phone. Sam is looking at me speculatively.
“Shall we go in?” he finally says. “Are you ready for popcorn and soda?”
In we go to watch the movie. I don’t remember which movie we saw. I have no recollection of it. I slept during the whole show.