Ahh Choo!
You look like you need a tissue Mommy
I have dark circles around my eyes and not the fun kind.  The last time I left the house was over seven days ago.

We’ve been forced into hibernation again.  This time the culprit is a nasty virus- barely preferable to depression….but it’s lurking in the walls of our self-imposed incarceration.

I’m not sure where she picked up the bug, but it hit Lavinia Sunday evening and by midnight we were in the Emergency Room.
What started with a runny nose escalated into vomiting and fever.  The thermometer wasn’t reading accurately and a house call could have taken hours.
At 3:30 am behind a curtain and beneath florescent lights I held my naked baby whom Matt just shushed to sleep, a small container poised to collect urine beneath her.  Her warm, pink body so vulnerable in my arms, it was like holding onto my insides.

My neck and back were aching from the plastic chair we perched in.  I silently begged her to pee so we could test it and take her home.  I was already covered with vomit and snot- what’s another gross bodily fluid? It was a new low point.

At least Matt was there for this, our second ER visit that week (for a possible concussion days earlier.) Unfortunately the only available target for my frustration and helplessness I shot daggers at my husband for not being able to locate the doctor.
We took our baby home at 4 am and put her to bed.
Twenty-four hours later, Matt caught the virus and by the next weekend, I had it too.
It’s possible Lavinia caught the bug from childcare.   And why deny myself the chance to feel guilty about it?
I enrolled Lavinia in ‘Occasional Care,’ a five hour session, one day per week.  I loved the idea of autonomy.  A chance to make appointments without checking with someone else first.  A break.  Time to rest.  To create.  To exercise or to take naps.
Seemingly a stroke of brilliance, I still struggled with the concept.  It felt selfish.  I’m on maternity leave- how dare I put Lavinia in the care of strangers?  And pay for the privilege? What would people think?
My mother in law is always willing to come down when we need her- even if just for sleep, but I just can’t justify asking her to make the four-hour-round-trip so I can shave my legs and watch an episode of Orange is the New Black.  That’s not cool.
Even so, I felt like I needed a few hours to do stupid things.  I knew something had to give when I started feeling jealous of Matt’s commute to and from work.
Lavinia has been to childcare twice so far.  After returning home from dropping her off the first time, I pulled into our driveway alone. I did not race to unlock the door, grab bags or unbuckle the car seat.  There were a million things I could do, free from so many burdens.
I sat in the drivers seat.  Engine off.  On my phone. Looking at Facebook.
Once I gathered the courage to enter our quiet home, I immediately turned my ringer on in case the carers called me.  Reminding myself to maximize the next few hours, I took a long shower (phone within reach), cooked a hot breakfast and wrote a blog post.  Next minute, it was time to go pick up Lavinia.
Giddy with excitement I drove back to the childcare center early (as planned) and found Lavnia had charmed everyone in the place.  She napped, had a bottle, a snack, lunch, and played with the other little kids.  She was so tired and happy that when we got home she took a long afternoon nap.
If you ask me, this was a successful first day for both of us.
I’m sure it will get easier each time- like a prisoner fresh out of jail, I need to reintegrate myself into the community.
I used to think that by saying; ‘childcare is good for development and social skills,’ working parents were just trying to make themselves feel better.   Now I realize it’s a true statement.
Lavinia lit up when we walked into the place on her second day of childcare.  She was delighted at the sight of the older kids and practically leapt into the arms of a young carer.
The “day care solution” will not fix everything.  Five hours flip by surprisingly fast but it’s a start.
I will still have to rely on my village, but if it makes me happier, this indulgent, weekly respite will benefit my entire family.

Author: dawnrieniets

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