Going out, out

5 Nov

When I had my baby I wasn’t sure when or how it would be even possible to leave him for a night. I couldn’t imagine him not being with me all the time, nor did I want to.

That’s not to say I didn’t think about it. A lot. This was usually at 3am when I sat day dreaming (or night dreaming) of dropping him off at my mum’s for a night so hubby and I could drive back home, get into bed and sleep until we could sleep no more.

However I was breastfeeding and this certainly does make it much more difficult. It’s not like someone else could whip out the old breast and satisfy his hunger or soothe him back to sleep. It wasn’t just this though. What I struggled with the most was the guilt I felt at the thought of ever not being with him. All I could imagine was his little face looking around and wondering where I was and if I was ever coming back. I could almost feel him developing abandonment issues. It was too much to bear.

For the first few months he wasn’t out of my sight. It was, looking back, one of the most precious times of my life and I didn’t want to waste a second of it. It was the time when my boy and I got to know each other. It was the time when he taught me how to be a mummy.

When I got out of the ‘newborn haze’, which was for me about 10 weeks in, I started to think about going out on my own. I thought about having a bit of ‘me time’ again. Maybe popping out to lunch with a friend. Maybe going to get my hair done on my own. Maybe sitting in a café, drinking a coffee and actually reading that elusive thing made of paper that I used to devour. What was it? Oh yes, a book.

Honestly? I felt guilty when I thought about doing this. There was a part of me that felt I shouldn’t want to leave him for a few hours. I made the decision to have a child and I shouldn’t for a second need space to be on my own. When I relayed this to hubby he had a stern word, told me not to be ridiculous, got the breast milk out the fridge (for the boy, not him) and packed me off for lunch with a friend. It was liberating. 

I met my best friend at a bar for lunch and I had the first cocktail I’d had since finding out I was pregnant. Most people crave food when they’re pregnant, some crave coal, I craved Mojitos. It was amazing and well worth the wait – the cocktail and the time alone. I realised soon afterwards that it was exactly what I needed. I felt a little bit like the old me again and it felt good. I missed my boy a lot, spent most of the train journey looking at pictures of him and didn’t put him down once I got home, but I felt good.

Hubby had had a great time with him. They’d had their very own little boys afternoon and I realised then how important that is too. They also needed their time together.

So, I’d done it. I’d ripped the plaster off, I’d braved a few hours without my boy and the world didn’t end. The next step was seeing if we could manage an evening away from him. Not overnight, but at least a night where we leave the house at 7 and don’t get home until midnight. It would be the latest night I’d had in months.

When he was 4 months old it was my birthday so we got my mum down to stay and tested our 7 to midnight evening. It felt like such a novelty to be out together, minus the boy, with our friends. However, as much as I enjoyed being out and celebrating my birthday, I also found the whole experience quite nerve racking. My life for the last 4 months had been totally and utterly consumed with a baby. I had spent every waking moment in a baby bubble that I was worried I wouldn’t know what to talk about. 4 months had felt like a lifetime. I found wine helped me get over this. A lot of wine. What I hadn’t thought about however, was how low my alcohol tolerance now was. The next day was not pleasant.

After this we have had the odd night out together and at a year old, being able to relax on a night out has gotten a lot easier. We’re pretty much guaranteed these days that he will sleep from 7pm until at least 5.30am so we know anyone looking after him will have a pretty easy job. We never go that far anyway.

Hubby and I say to each other time and time again that we need to do it more often. We need to make the most of his aunt and uncle living around the corner and treat ourselves to a meal or a drink out on our own. The only issue with this is that we’re so bloody knackered we can’t really be arsed. If we’re not in bed by 10pm we both start panicking about being exhausted the next day. Sleep is so precious that we’d rather give up a night out to ensure we get at least 6 hours.

My biggest test and the one I found the most difficult was spending a whole day and night away from him. The first time I did this he was 10 months old and I went on a friends’ hen do. I knew he was with hubby and he would be absolutely fine, but I really did miss him and because of this I don’t think I allowed myself to relax fully. I had also made the fatal error of doing my last ever breastfeed that morning, so not only was I leaving my boy overnight for the first time, I was also going through a huge range of emotions and guilt about no longer breastfeeding. Not great timing on my part. I still had a great time and when I woke up the next day and knew he was ok, I was quite annoyed with myself for not relaxing more and making the most of a bit of freedom. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The last time hubby and I were together, alone, minus the boy, was the first time we had left him over night without one of us being there. It was for two nights at a wedding. It was a brilliant do and a fab weekend and felt much easier than the last time I was away, but I still don’t think I could do more than a couple of nights. Not at this age.

It’s funny what you think your life will be like before the baby comes and what the actual reality is. Hubby and I had talked about having 5 nights in New York whilst the boy stayed at his grandparents, as well as various other weekend breaks here and abroad. Given that I miss him when he’s asleep I find this highly unlikely.

I know it will change as he gets older and I’m fully aware that he is fine without us for a night or two. I’m know that the issue is not his separation anxiety, but mine. I have it bad. I’m also fully aware that when I have another child I’ll probably have no issue with bundling them both off pretty early on to my mum’s for the night. Forget going out, out. We’ll be doing it so we can sleep.  

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