I had my sweet little girl all to myself for about 5 weeks before having to return to work postpartum. I know I know—maternity leave in the United States is a little (a lot) behind the times. It was a new job, though, and one that I loved. But I definitely didn’t want to leave her while she was so young.
I’m among those fortunate enough to live near family. I would at least be able to take great comfort in knowing she was loved. I also cared for in an individualized environment that I trusted to the hilt. Many encouraged me to leave her in my husband’s care for a few hours as a “test run” before returning to work, both for her benefit and mine.
We’d been attached at the hip (read: nipple) for her entire little life. Also, we needed to make sure we’d both adjust to these big changes well. I left her and her papa with a full stomach and set out to get a much-needed pedicure and grab some groceries. It was only for a few hours, right?
Expectations vs. Reality: My First Postpartum Outing
I’ve been reading parenting blogs and websites for so long now that I had this unrealistic postpartum expectation that I’d excitedly burst out of my car at the salon, singing Jason Derulo’s “Ridin Solo,” all while sucking down a still-cold drink.
I sat in my car nervously at the salon and texted my husband. “She’s asleep,” he confirmed. I felt a bit more at ease as I calmly emerged from my car.
Sweet. Alone. Time. Is there anything as glorious and relaxing as a pedicure?
I wasn’t focused on the massage my calves were receiving and instead noticed a baby’s cry in the distance, which made me see I’d sprung a leak.
With the pedicure being done, it’s time to walk over to the grocery store for some fully uninterrupted shopping. It had been over a month since I’d been in here as I kept sending my unsuspecting husband on these runs for me. Time to REALLY get stuff done!
Honestly, I forgot shopping carts were a thing. I wandered a full lap around the store in full postpartum mom-brain mode because I’d received a text that said she was awake and grumpy. In addition, I came to the baby aisle holding a pack of too-big diapers and, inexplicably, some condoms. I dropped them and went for the cart.
A fully-stocked list, a surprisingly roomy budget (the sweetest family and friends kept bringing food: you all are the real MVPs). And I had time to spare to grab a Starbucks as I meandered with a cart this time around.
I forgot my list and brought home two boxes of frozen waffles and some peanut butter.
Despite my best intentions, my first postpartum outing alone was nothing short of a disaster. All those voices screamed at me, “Enjoy my alone time!” and “Stop spending all my time with the baby,” were drowned out in a big way when I got home from what felt like years away.
Though it’s continued to get easier with time to be away for work and date nights, I would still rather spend my time with my daughter and doing things she can tag along for than most anything else.
My husband would later inform me that I was gone for less than 2 hours on the outing that was supposed to be at least half the day. Sorry, not sorry, honey.