Wednesday, July 6, 2011

First time leaving baby

I have a friend and fellow teen mom that has been at stay at home mother for about six years and is now getting into the work force. Like most mothers she is nervous about how the transition and the experience will be for her and her family.

This got me thinking about the first time I had to leave Leilani at a daycare or with a sitter.
I was 15 years old when I had Leilani, four days later I turned 16 and six days later I was going back to school. I was fortunate enough to have my sister take care of her so I don't really count that as leaving her with a sitter. My sister and I both lived in my mother's house therefore, I didn't have to worry about packing a diaper bag, car seats or the most important thing trusting my "sitter" with my child.

When I was at school I would think about her all the time and knew every time she hungry because my breast would be swollen from breast milk.

The next school year I was no longer living in my mother's house but with my own new family, the father of my child-my then boyfriend, my daughter, and myself.

My sister soon found a job and could no longer watch my child so I had to put her in daycare. Putting her in daycare meant several things, I had to get a job to pay for it, I had to attend after school classes to get it at a reduced rate and the fact that I would have to trust someone other than a family member with my daughter.
I began my search for the perfect daycare and of course the only one I wanted her to go to cost a small fortune and wasn't part of the government's reduced teen mom program. After going to several day cares and asking numerous questions I choose the one I liked the most. It also happened to be the closest one to my high school, which was very convenient since I now lived about 20-30 minutes away from my high school.

Finally the day came when I had to drop off my daughter for her, and my, first day of daycare. I was an emotional mess.
My daughter was growing up, so was I, she was going to be away from me and any family for an extended period of time for the first time, these people didn't know her or me and I didn't know any of them. I walked into the daycare and her teacher wasn't there yet. This made me very uneasy because I never met the morning teacher just the afternoon one and here was this new face telling me that she would keep my daughter until the morning teacher comes in. I declined with a tad bit of too much attitude. I mean who was this women and why did she think I was just going to trust her with my child? Oh yeah, she was a daycare employee and that's what I was paying for, trust... in a complete stranger. When the morning teacher finally arrived I was already going to be late to class, but I didn't care English could wait I had a child to tend to and a stranger to size up in the few minutes that I didn't have to spare. After telling her everything about my daughter and her pretending that she really listened and cared, I had to leave, with my head up and trying to not cry in front of these women. My daughter on the other hand was already elbow deep into toys, books and everything else in the room and barely paid any attention when I left. This broke my heart even more.
As I walked away from her class, I looked back and couldn't believe I was leaving her, I didn't want to leave her and I felt like the worst mother in the world. I left my daughter and it wasn't even in the top of the line daycare that she deserved and I wanted, but in a government funded daycare, with teachers that were late and passive. When I walked out of the daycare doors the air outside felt thick and heavy, my stomach was in knots, my eyes were trying not to cry, and the growing lump in my throat was making it hard for me to breath, but the thing that hurt the most was my heart, it was destroyed.
I jumped in my truck turned the air conditioning on in hopes to get some type of air in my lungs. Then I picked up my cell phone with all strength I had left in me and called my boyfriend, her father.
"Hey baby. How'd it go?" he asked
I tried to give him my best, "everything went well, she was fine and I'm on my way to class" but instead I heard myself say "I ... left... her all by herself and she didn't even cry and..." before I could get another word out I was crying, horribly. My body shook and I could barely hear his consoling words on the other line over me gasping for air. My tears burned in my eyes as they rolled down my cheeks. "Get yourself together" I thought and I did.
"No no I'm okay I promise" I told him, "I know she'll be fine I just had a little moment but I'm okay now. I love you too"
I hung up. Turned my head lights on backed out of the parking spot and started driving.
I heard the loud horn behind me after I swerved into the lane next to me. It was then that I realized I was crying again and that I couldn't see the road because of my blinding tears. I did the only sensible thing there was to do, I turned on my caution lights, parked the car in the middle turning lane and cried for a good five minutes.

I arrived to English class horribly late, with blood shot eyes and took my seat while everyone watched me. I mean this was the first time they had seen me since I had my daughter and here I was breathing heavy and red eyed.
During my school day I sneaked, because cell phones were not allowed on campus, and called the daycare several times. Every time I called they told me she was fine and not to worry.
At the last bell I literally ran to my car and picked up my daughter from daycare. She was fine, in one piece and smiling when she saw me.

Eventually it got easier and easier but nothing ever compared to the first time I left her.
I still feel very uneasy when I leave her with someone but I think that's just a part of being a mother.
Thank you for reading!