Hello everyone! I'm relatively new to MCD having joined a few years ago but not posting too much. I have spent more time reading the posts of others but now I feel I really need some advice! This July I have to go away to summer school as part of my masters degree. It's four hours away from my home. I have a 2 1/2 year old son an have agonized for months over how to handle this. I still breastfeed him and don't really want to stop but because of the plan we have recently decided on it looks like it may lead to the end of our nursing relationship. The current plan we have is that I will be gone for the week days and then come home on the weekends for the whole month. I feel quite scared about the separation anxiety I know I will experience with being away from him for 5 days at a time. The longest I've been away from him is 24 hours and that just happened last night and it was very hard .I pumped a few times but I'm not sure if I'll be able to maintain my milk supply as it's not huge anymore and I think a few days of just pumping could do it in. I'm sure if I "practice" this a number of times before July comes that it may be slightly easier, but 5 days at a time seems huge and not only am I worried about my own emotions and stress levels but also my son and how we will handle this separation. We've been very attached since his birth and I don't know if I'm ready for this kind of separation.
We've considered other plans like having him come with me and hiring a babysitter to have him during the day when I'm in classes. This is possible but would cost some extra money and my husband feels that it would be yet another example of how I am (in his mind) too attached and not willing to break away from our son. My husband wants the opportunity to have more time and responsibility in our son's care, especially at night (I have always been the night time parent and still nurse at night).
I am torn in many directions - wanting let go and give my husband the opportunity he want........thinking that I could possibly benefit from the separation as it would help me feel like I am not always 100% Mom.......feeling like my son may not be ready for this kind of separation and I don't want to hurt him.......wanting to make the "right" decision despite the fact that at this time I can't possibly know the outcome of each option.......not wanting to be stressed out of my mind because my son is not with me while needing to be very focused on school for the month.....knowing that weaning is going to be emotional for me as just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes and I feel sad.....it goes on and on.
Can anyone offer any advice about how to deal with a decision like this? I want to do what is best for all of us. I am scared of the anxiety and stress I could experience if I choose to leave my son at home, and how my son could not be ready for this separation, but I'm also scared of making a choice that keeps me stuck in a bit of a rut, not allowing my husband to be the parent he want to be for our son. If I left my son at home and everything went perfectly we could all end up benefiting hugely. I know I brought up a lot of issues in this post and I'm sorry if it's confusing. The bottom line is, to take the risk of a separation that could result in some big positives or some big negatives, or to choose what I would call a safer path but not necessarily better (although it could be if my son is really not ready for this or if I am not really ready for this).
I would be very grateful to hear from anyone who has had to be away from their toddler without being totally ready, or just anyone who could offer advice about how to make this difficult decision. Thanks for making it to the end of my long post!!
lovetoski--that sounds so hard. i would hate to see your nursing relationship end for school purposes, but I totally understand that sometimes, you just have to make those difficult decisions. you're totally right that you wont know the outcome of all your scenarios untill they're in play, so my suggestion would be this..
start talking to people you think would be good care providers for your son while youre in class, and maybe ask him/her to be on standby so that if you or ds can't handle the separation, you can have that person bring ds to you and change your plan accordingly, or could you arrange to have dh bring ds to you one or two nights a week, just to ease the "cold turkey" separation. it may not help your milk supply but it might help your nerves. would it be possible for dh to shift his hours around at work so that he could come stay the night with you (you 3 together as a family) and maybe he could go in a little late once or twice a week?
i'm just wondering if there isn't a middle ground somewhere, so it doesn't have to be all or nothing...
good luck to you!
Married to overworked DH since 2003, happily mama to DD (01/09) and DS (4/12)
I can relate! I left my 2.5 year old, who was still nursing, to do field work overseas for 4 weeks. It was a hard decision, but part of my job involves field work, and after a 7-year break (for 2 babies), it was time to get back to it. Was I "ready" for it? No, of course not. And I didn't want to end the nursing relationship because of the trip and that was hard. That's a really long time to be gone from your kids. However, my milk did not go away in the month I was gone. When I got back, my son asked to nurse, so we could have kept it going. It's still possible to keep nursing, even with week-long separations. (And in all honesty... we didn't keep nursing, but that was more in part due to pressure from my dh that maybe it was time to stop. And I decided I was ok with it at that point. I think my problem was more the guilt that work had "forced" an end to our nursing relationship, rather than feeling like it ended prematurely (if that makes any sense).)
My son is super-snuggly, and the end of nursing did not mean the end of attachment. He's still (at 5), super cuddly. The attachment is still strong.
My dh had a good time with the boys by himself. They all did fine. The only thing I noticed off when I got home was some long fingernails. And I think it's kind of empowering for dads to realize they can handle the kids by themselves when their partner is out of town.
When my ds2 was younger, I taught a 2-week class on a campus 3 hours away. In that case, I took him with me and found someone to watch him. I also took my ds1 with me for 2 months when I had to do lab work a couple states away. In those cases, it was really hard to be a single-mom in a different city, with all of the work involved with teaching/lab work on top of that. In both cases, I had to find child care on the fly in a city I didn't live. BUT, they were so young then that I didn't even consider leaving them at home. At 2 1/2, it's more doable.
Honestly, I would try it. You will be able to come home on the weekends. You will be able to focus on your school work while you are away, so that family time is family time. You will miss your son terribly. And your dh will probably cherish the opportunity to spend some 1-on-1 time with his son. That is precious, too. It sounds like your dh is super-supportive and wants to give it a try. That is critical to making it work. And chiromama is right - there may be a middle ground. Depending on your dh's schedule, and how your ds handles it, they could come visit, too.