Coping with Separation Anxiety… How to Do It

So I recently had to go away for a work trip and leave my baby with my husband and her grandmother. Now, I’ll tell you, this has absolutely nothing to do with my husband’s ability to care for our child (he did great – a little more about that later) or my mother’s knack for giving her treats that are too advanced for her age – isn’t that what grandma’s do? It totally has to do with me and what I didn’t expect to happen to me – but it did. Dunh dunh dunnnnhhhhh…. separation anxiety.

Y’all. I have a great village. You don’t even understand, an absolutely phenomenal village. A host of family, friends, cousins, play cousins, pretend aunts, best friends and the like, all vying for a chance to take care of Aria. It’s a beautiful thing. There isn’t a moment that I think she won’t be taken care of if I have to go somewhere or, God forbid, the worst happens. The girl is set in terms of love and care. I trust and believe that on my heart and soul.

But, I had to leave her. I was good leading up to the trip, but the closer the trip got, the more I began to dread the inevitable. As I began to pack up her things – three bags to be exact – one for grandma’s house, one for dad when he travels with her to meet me, and one to bring with me on the trip for when she arrives – the anxiety got worse and worse. I kept telling myself to keep it together. Keep it together. The next thing I knew, it was time for me to go. Oh. My. Gosh. What do I do?

Don’t leave me Mommy.

Do you see that face? It’s like she knew I was leaving her and couldn’t believe I could be so heartless. I’m smiling on the outside and a complete basket case on the inside. As soon as I put her back in the car seat and stepped away from her, the tears began to flow and the doubts began to flood my mind. Will she still love me just as much as before? Will she remember me? Is she going to be angry at me that I left her? Will they take good care of her? What if something happens and I’m in an entirely different country? How fast can I get home? Will Dad be able to travel well with her? What if she has a meltdown on the airplane? What if she can’t pop her ears? WHAT IF THE PLANE CRASHES????

Can you see the rabbit hole that I was falling into without any sort of safety harness. It was complete madness. Here’s what I did to cope.

1. Just breathe. Stop. Take a step back and relax. It’s going to be OK. It really is. I promise. Aria has a great community surrounding her, as I mentioned before, so I remembered that so many people love her and will gladly throw themselves in moving traffic to protect her. So she’s probably safer with them than I am on the trip. She’s good to go. Realizing that, brought me from a level 30 to a level 25. So if you’re in the same situation, understand that your village has your back – and more importantly – your little’s back.

2. Have plenty of memory material. This was a saving grace. I promise, with no shame whatsoever, that I looked at the same 4 or 5 pictures of Aria at least (and this is no exaggeration) 50 times a day. Put the pictures with the smiles and the videos of the coos and laughs in heavy rotation. Just seeing her face and hearing her voice made me feel closer to her. Level 25 to 15.

3. Stash a toy. I took one of Aria’s toys with me on my trip. Did I want to play with it. Nope. It just smelled like her. Every time I closed my eyes, I would take a deep breath of her in. It was almost like I was nuzzling her. When you need a cuddle of your baby and she’s (or he’s) not there in person, this was the next best thing for me. It really did work wonders. I even slept with it. There’s no shame in my game.

4. FaceTime. However, you need to video chat do that. I have an iPhone so FaceTime works best for me. But if you have a different channel of communication, use whatever gets you in front of your little by live video. They’ll be so happy to see you and vice versa. While I was on with Aria, I told her about my day. I let her know that I missed her and would see her soon. FaceTiming did a couple of things; it gave me an opportunity to see her AND it reinforced the fact that she was being well taken care of by the village.

5. Get busy. Don’t sit around and mope. The saying is true – time flies when you’re having fun. So you may not initially feel like a party, get out there and do something. Whether it’s work or play, if you get immersed in activity, you’ll look up and the day will be over. Now you’re one day closer to getting back to your baby.

6. Anticipate your reunion. The closer it got for us to get back together, the more excited you’re going to be. I promise for me it was like waiting for Christmas. I was like a kid on Christmas morning, the day I was back with her. My husband showed up with her at the hotel and I literally ran through the hotel and out the doors to the shuttle. I was overwhelmed with emotion and was so happy. It was almost like I had just given birth again. The joy. The happiness. The love.

I was so proud of myself for getting through my first trip away from my daughter. It made me feel confident that I could do it again – which I will have to do in the near future and will have to go through all these steps again. But I’m prepared. And I’m not ready. LOL. Sigh. Good luck.

xoxo