I keep going back and forth worrying about my parents taking care of Natalie while I'm in the hospital. Big picture wise, there isn't much to worry about. I'm pretty sure Natalie will eat and sleep for them. I know her basic needs will be taken care of. But, I am worried about how rough it will be on Natalie.
First of all, until this coming Saturday, she'll never have been separated from me for more than a few hours at a time. I think the longest I've probably ever been away is five or six hours, but the most recent of those was back before Christmas. She has no memory of that long ago. Besides, she is showing signs of separation anxiety recently. Things like the hand holding at the library and getting mildly upset when I'm not right there playing in the yard because Mike is with her and I'm making dinner. Additionally, she has never been with anyone other than either of us for more than maybe three hours.
I keep thinking that Mike will be able to come home and be with her a lot. I'm hoping I'll feel a little less pain after this birth, with the hopes of a shorter labor, especailly the pushing. My tailbone, stitches, and hemorrhoid really slowed me down the last time making it hard to get up and down. I'm hoping for no stitches and less significant other injuries this time so that I'll be able to get and down to do diapers by myself. Also, knowing that I've done this before does make me more confident. I'm not really worried about diapers or crying. I have a little bit of worry about restarting nursing. Will it be as painful? Will there be issues since this is a different baby? Will I have trouble adapting back to a newborn after finishing nursing with a 14 month old? Also, I'm having trouble knowing when I want Mike to be there. It would be nice to have his support at night, but realistically, that was when I got the least support from him. Not only is he a heavier sleeper, but with the breastfeeding, its just hard to justify waking him constantly. But, Natalie will need him during the day. So, if he is going to spend time with us, it would make the most sense to be during the night. I worry that it will run him ragged going between Natalie at home and then losing sleep with me at the hospital, but again, realistically, that is going to be my life for a few months at least once he returns to work.
My parents parented so differently than us at this stage. Part of it was personality, part of it the times, and part of it necessity. By the time I came along, my mother had three kids under four. We each spent a lot of time in our rooms, or later grouped together in one room to play together. My mom didn't bring us out. I actually have no memories of my mother playing with me. (I have lots of memories of her caring for me in other ways like cooking, taking me to the doctor, giving me hair cuts, and caring for me when I was sick, but not playing). My father was the one who took us exciting places and played. Really, the two of them together with Natalie should be everything she needs. My mom to take care of most of the custodial aspects and my dad to be on entertainment.
But, letting her roam about the house, bringing her somewhere every day, and generally letting her get messy aren't really my parents' style. I feel like why not let her dump water on herself or dig in the mud? Let her get a little paint or food on her clothes (or face or hair or the table) if it means she learning something. Let her climb on things, as long as she isn't in serious danger. And as far as taking her out. Well, that really is as much for me as her. We both get bored all day at home. A trip somewhere forces us to get dressed and ready, which can eat up a lot of time if we dilly dally. Pretty much everything around here is 10 - 15 minutes away, so just to and from eats up almost half an hour. Then, if we usually stay for an hour. Overall, a morning outing really make the time fly by.
But, its not just their sanity and Natalie's boredom I'm worried about (though I am rather worried about both). I'm also worried about Natalie's sense of routine. We got out pretty much everyday, including weekends where one day is usually shopping and the other something fun. When we get home, its lunch and nap. Not doing this for a day or two probably won't be a huge deal. But, not knowing how long the hospital stay will be until we are living it, I think about what if its longer. With Natalie we were there for five and half days - pretty much a week. If that were to happen again, I think Natalie would feel the difference in her routine and schedule.
I worry about Natalie's behavior. With me gone, she could not be her usual happy self. I don't really know how it will because its never happened before. With changes to her routine, she might get the same way. And, they will interact with her differently. They won't understand what she says and wants the same way I do because I'm so used to her. I know they will caution her about more things than me and not allow more things. I anticipate more no's, more pressure to do things differently than she wants, and more TV.
On top of all this, there are the limitations of my parents' ages. Both of them are in their later 60's. They both have trouble getting up and down off the floor. I just wonder if the carrying, lifting, walking, kneeling, and chasing involved with her every day activity will bother them. I understand that taking her out can be a big ordeal. Getting in and out of the car. Getting her up and down stairs. Walking her alone busy streets or in parking lots. But even if they stay home with her, there is still plenty of all that happening. My mother is worried about bathing Natalie because she can't kneel. How much can she interact with Natalie if she can't get down to her level?
And how to other parents come and help out with the child care as well as all the other household work? I picture my parents being consumed with caring for Natalie, the two of them together. I feel like asking them to then put out the trash or do some laundry is too much. Both more than they agreed to and maybe more than they are prepared to handle. I know they lived through this before - with three kids - but they were their kids who they understood best and raised their way, and that was 30 plus years ago. Until about a week ago, my mother hadn't even changed a diaper since I became potty trained. They are a little out of habit to say the least. Its kind of funny how my mother mentioned to me once that she couldn't watch my sister's future kid(s) while she works. I never pictured her doing that either, but it was surprising to me that she considered it.
I'm going to miss Natalie while I'm away. I think not knowing how she is doing will bother me. Wondering if she is crying because she misses me, especailly when she's hurt or frustrated. Just the idea of her being comforted by someone other than us, how that comforting might feel all wrong to her, makes me sad. Its reasons like this that I'm so glad we don't have to send her to day care. My parents are family. I trust them and know their intentions and Natalie loves them. Sending her to be with some stranger who is caring for children to make money just feels so cold at times. Not cold as in cruel for a parent to do, but cold as in a distant and unloving relationship between the child and caregiver. Its just maddening to think: Will they know to give her her kitty? Will they know when she wants a hug versus to space? Will they give in to little demands because its not worth her being upset? Will they be able to understand her when she is crying? (I marvel at that one. Just today she was crying and telling me her arm hurt because I hit it coming in the door. She was able to calm down so fast because I could understand why she was upset).
And all my worries mostly revolve around things generally being alright. What if they aren't? Why if she won't sleep for them? If she just howls and bangs on the door? Or, what if she refuses to eat? What if she doesn't want to play and just wanders around distracted and irritable? What if the only things that make her happy are cookies and TV, and those only for a minute or two?
Its kind of funny how I haven't let myself worry or think too much about after the birth. I'm trying hard not to picture how things will be. I have some ideas, but I don't want to give myself a false idea and then get upset that things aren't going as planned. One of the big things I've only pictured a little bit is Natalie visiting at the hospital and how she will be the first few days home. I know that she very well might not be happy to see me. She might ignore me entirely. That makes me so sad to think about, mostly for the selfish reason that I feel with all the time I do spend with her she should miss me and be so happy I'm back. But ignoring me would also mean she is upset, and I don't want her to be any more than can be helped. Its just the plain truth that William's birth will be the biggest thing to ever happen to her so far, and she barely has any idea it is coming.