Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Leaving My Baby At Night

Readers, I need help. I'm in a dilemma. I just don't know whether I can leave my dear baby in the evening yet. I'd love to start a course that will involve roughly one evening out per month, but I just don't have any confidence that Cave Baby will allow her daddy to put her to sleep in the evening.

We are very attached. We spend all day together. I can count on my fingers the number of times I have left her with someone else for a few hours. She is gaining a sense of independence but that does not mean that she doesn't want her mummy there, watching her from a safe distance. And for my part I have grown used to being there with her, and I can feel antsy if I'm away from her for more than two or three hours.

There is obviously a balance to strike between my needs as an adult and hers as a baby that I brought into the world. I have parented her in an "attachment" style; I can't just bail out on her now. But if my desire to study means that she suffers an evening of stress, crying and wondering where her mummy is, then I don't think that's fair.

I sometimes wonder how different things would have been if we had had an "easier" baby. If Cave Father could walk her to sleep in a sling and then put her down to sleep on the bed, without her waking, then I wouldn't be in this dilemma. But we just don't have the luxury of that kind of arrangement. She wakes if she's moved. Therefore she has to go to sleep in the place where she is going to stay, and that currently means me nursing her to sleep in bed. She will sometimes oblige by dropping off in a pushchair, but that's not a given. His only other option would be to put her in bed, switch the lights off and sing to her until she gives in and goes to sleep. The problem is that there could be a lot of crying in the interim. And don't even mention controlled crying (or gradual withdrawal, which would amount to the same thing). She can cry for ages if we're there - I can only imagine the state she would get into if she was on her own. Aside from my ideological objections to sleep training, it doesn't seem worth the effort to deal with a problem that only presents itself once a month.

Maybe I should wait another year or so. But I hope that by then there might be another baby on the way, and I also believe in grabbing opportunities when they present themselves. An opportunity is staring me straight in the face and it kills me to say no to it.

Am I just worrying too much, or is this a situation that other mothers have found themselves in? This is the type of dilemma that many parents would laugh at, but to me it is very real. I genuinely don't want to cause upset to my baby, but I do want to pursue my interests. Aaahhh! Are there any attachment parenting whizzes out there that can sort me out?


Joxy said...


Difficult isn't it. Is there the option of distance learning studying?

Alternatively, I would slowly try getting her use to Cave Daddy popping her to bed; starting with you both laying with her while she bfs from you... to slowly Cave Daddy taking her up and settling her down, perhaps with a cup of expressed milk?

I hope you do find a happy compromise for you both.

MamaEm said...

I deal with this too, though I know our problems are somewhat different since our littles are different ages... If she falls asleep in the sling with DH, we let her stay in the sling until I come home or until she wakes up on her own. Then I can nurse her back to sleep. Could that be a possibility? Good luck :) I admire your devotion to Cave Baby! What a loving mother!

Earth Mama said...

Oh I do sympathise:-) however, if she doesn't seem ready for a gentle transition to where daddy can put her to sleep I would probably wait... :-(

Perhaps though it wouldn't take long, maybe just a few weeks, until she was comfortable with this little change.

I always remind myself that this moment with my baby is exactly where I am meant to be... courses will always come and go but baby-hood only 'goes'.

blessings and light!

Cave Mother said...

Joxy - that may be an option. Maybe. Thanks for the hugs.

MamaEm - I think it gets harder with size. I actually used to leave her when she was small and Cave Father could keep her in the sling, as you say. But she's just too chunky for that now.

Earth Mama - thanks for giving me permission to wait. I think that is perhaps what I need to hear.

Liz said...

I've been in similar positions with both my 2 and in both cases I chose to wait until I was confident they were ready. I think the doubts you are feeling show your instinct knows that she is not ready to be left.

All babies are different - my daughter was a very 'difficult' baby but was such a Daddy's girl that I could leave her by about 20 months, my son I have only recently felt confident to leave when he was around 4.5 years.

As others have said. Other things in life come and go but you only get the chance to lay that attached foundation once, and it will pay dividends later.

Earthenwitch said...

Tricky one. I sympathise - I'd like to go back to a pottery class I used to love, but it starts at seven and the small girl is usually just about feeding herself off to bed at that point; I can't see it changing in the next few months, so I'm taking the broad view and thinking that the pots will still be there when she is long past this point. As Earth Mama says, babyhood only goes...

Melodie said...

I had to leave my one year old with her dad about once or twice a month in the evenings too. In retrospect it was okay. She didn't go to sleep for her daddy until about the 20th time but she survived. She just slept longer the next day and nursed a bit more at night on those nights. I hated doing it when it needed to be done but I can honestly look back and say it was okay.

Kat said...

Only one way to find out, go out for the evening and see what happens.

Lisa C said...

I understand this feeling. I'm lucky that my son goes to sleep for his father, but he would much much much prefer it was me. And no way can we leave him with a sitter at bedtime. How far past her bedtime will you be out? Is it possible for her to stay up late those nights, since it's only once a month? Maybe Cave Father will figure out a way to get her to sleep. If she cries, at least she will be safe in the arms of someone who loves her.

Cave Mother said...

I know she will be fine and she won't come to any harm, it's just really hard to think of her in distress because I have left her. I think from the range of responses (which I am extremely grateful for), this is one of those things that is different for everyone. As I would be getting back late, like 11-12pm late, I don't think I can just leave her and hope she stays awake until I'm back.

What I'm doing at the moment is looking around for other things I could do that are exclusively correspondence-based. At least then I'll be able to get on with some learning. As for when I'll get to go back to my choir? Heaven knows (Earthenwitch - I suppose if pots can wait then singing can too).

I think this is one of those times when I just needed to hear from someone else that they'd been there, and decided to put their baby first. It feels at odds with what society expects me to do, but it feels a whole lot better if I'm not the only one that's made that decision in these circumstances. So thanks, everyone.

Laura McIntyre said...

It can be such a hard descision to make , my eldest is almost 5 and my youngest 18 months but i have not yet found myself been able to leave in the evening. I know my husband could put my girls down but my youngest still needs me and my milk.

You don't know how it would play out with you not there though , could you maybe give it a shot and see how it went?

Lisa C said...

You do have to listen to your heart. I couldn't tell which was pulling at you harder...your desire to take the class or your desire to be home with your baby every night. It sounds like the latter. Hope you can find something that works for you.

Jessica said...

When my son was 10 months old I suddenly had to go to the hospital for 3 or 4 days. It was awful. I was in tears because I was the only one that could get him to go down with my breast and he'd never ever taken a bottle. And I couldn't even pump because of the drugs they'd given me. I had to pump and dump (eventually, I was able to pump and he did take a bottle).

Surprisingly, Hollis did great without me there. It was a lot different than me just being in the other room. I think he knew (and his father knew) that things were different and they had to work it out. But, like everyone else has said, every baby is different. Hollis has always been fairly easy going so who knows how it'd have gone if he were wired differently?

Good luck, Cave Mama!! I look forward to hearing how it all works out :)

Primal Homemaker said...

My son turned 2 this month and I just left him overnight for the first time last weekend. So hard! However, he did just fine. I think it was harder on me.