I just got back from vacation. It was a very fancy, much-needed vacation that included my very first night away from the baby since she was born. It had been a long time coming and I have been fantasizing about it for months, but exactly 12 hours before I was supposed to leave for my very fancy trip I found myself gripped by an overwhelming and very out-of-character panic about all the terrible things that could happen if the baby was out of my sight. Suddenly it was like all my fantasies about four-star hotels and cocktails and massages and pressed pajamas and high-end linens were washed away, and there was just a white wall of, “Oh my god, what about the baby?!”
The fact of the panic was bewildering enough. I am a very laid-back, not at all anxious person, and I trust my husband implicitly. There was nothing to worry about. My baby is healthy and cheerful and obsessed with her father. I wasn’t even sure she would notice I was gone. But at 8 p.m. on Sunday–12 hours before I was scheduled to leave–I suddenly found myself weeping like an idiot with a death-grip on the baby, smelling her head to calm down and calculating the logistics of bringing the baby and my husband with me on my little night away.
I was being completely ridiculous. It was one overnight. But still, this happened:
1. Yay! Freedom!
I am going to have a cocktail and take a bath, maybe at the same time! And I am going to get a massage. Or maybe I’ll just wear pajamas that don’t have breast milk on them and check my email in bed.
2. Wait a minute … things could happen while I’m gone!
What if there is a storm? What if the baby crawls inside a plastic bag? What if my partner tries to feed the baby and leaves her unattended in the high chair? What if she crawls into the washing machine? Does my partner know what to do if the baby is choking? Every single thing in the house is a choking hazard! Oh my god, the world is a death trap.
3. How many of these scenarios can I run by my husband before it gets weird and I am undermining his ability to watch the baby?
Making sure he knows the emergency number and has watched this video about what to do if the baby is choking is one thing, but am I allowed to ask if he knows not to shake the baby or let her play with knives and that if the apartment is full of bees, he should leave?
4. If our roles were reversed, I would be really offended right now.
I’m lucky my partner is so understanding and chill, because if he were having a hair-pulling meltdown over all the things I might do wrong when left alone with the baby, I would kill him. Instead he’s just like, “It’s fine. It’s OK to be nervous. I’ll stay on Skype the whole time so you can call and check in.”
5. What if the baby develops an allergy?
The baby could totally become allergic to peanuts while I’m away. That happens, right?
6. What if a bird flies in the house?
I know this is the same thing Rachel was worried would happen to her baby on Friends, but it is not that big of a stretch! It has happened before. What if a bird flies in the house and lands on the baby and the baby gets bird flu? Or bees. Bees get in the house all the time. What if the house fills with bees? I don’t know if the baby is allergic to bees!
7. What if the baby chokes on a coin?
When I was in fifth grade I was not allowed to watch soap operas, but I watched one anyway and in it a baby choked on a dime. It was apparently a formative experience for me, because I am now deathly afraid of coins around the baby. New policy: Take all money out of the house, order husband to only use Paypal until I get back.
8. The baby is never allowed to go away to college.
The baby cannot go to college. That is ridiculous! She is just a baby. Nope nope nope. (Insert about 20 minutes of crying here.)
9. Maybe I should take the baby with me.
But wait … that would mean no vacation. No fancy linens. No bathtub. No Champagne. No massage … Nah.
10. Hooray for train wine!
The presence of beer and wine (including sparkling wine) on long-distance trains is one of the best parts of train travel, and train travel is one of the best things about living in Europe. Once you have a nice cold train beer and watch the mountains roll by, all that anxiety just melts away.
Everything was fine, by the way. The baby did not crawl away to be raised by foxes in the woods.