I Was a Mess the First Time I Left My Baby With a Sitter

mother and baby hands

The first time I left my baby with a sitter, she was 6 months old and I was a mess. Okay -- maybe not a hot mess, but definitely lukewarm. Put it this way: I was enough of a mess that I needed some extra hand-holding and support before I would (gulp) leave my kid with a total outsider.

Advertisement

Let me back up. All the firsts applied with Eva. She’s my first baby (I now have two daughters). I had been scared when I took her out in public the very first time (What if she cries? What if she barfs? What if I have to breastfeed her in public?). There had been the first time she took a bottle, the first time she rolled over, or the first time she slept through the night. I marked these firsts in a notebook. I studied them. I anticipated them.

So, when she was 6 months, I still hadn’t left her with anyone other than a family member. Every time I thought about handing her over to a complete stranger, a million different horrible scenarios ran through my mind.

More from The Stir15 Things You Should Ask a Potential Babysitter (Some Will Surprise You!)

Around that time -- I think to make me feel better -- my mom offered up stories of how she babysat several children at the age of 12. Her parents (my grandparents) would go into downtown Los Angeles for dinner dates. It was a 45-minute drive from their home in the ’burbs, but no one blinked an eye at a 12-year-old taking over full responsibility for a few neighbor kids (one of whom was a small baby) as well as her two siblings. All she had in case of an emergency was the phone number for the restaurant where the grown-ups were going.

I’m a journalist, so I did what I knew how to do best -- and what I was most comfortable doing next. I researched. I asked for recommendations from other moms. And soon, I learned about a babysitting agency that background-checked every sitter. Sitters were also trained in CPR. And, because this was important to me at the time, the sitters knew the different variations of infant and child CPR.

More from The Stir: Why I'm Jealous of the Babysitter

Even knowing that, I felt I needed more reassurance. My husband, who desperately wanted some alone time with me (it was the day before Valentine's Day), urged me to contact the owner of the agency. It wasn't exactly customary, but when I spoke to her by phone she offered to come over before our date night, with her proposed sitter. We could meet and talk things through.

I will never forget sitting in a cozy semi-circle on the floor of our then-apartment with Cristina and Emily, the kind-eyed grad student who liked to babysit in her spare time. These two women lounged in my living room for a good half hour making goo-goo faces at Eva and asking me all about her nighttime routine.

And then Cristina said, “If you want, we can take a walk while you decide if you’d like to go out tonight.” She offered me an out, but I had felt instinctively at ease with both of them. Their unwavering positive, confident attitudes propelled me to take that next leap of faith and grant Eva’s care to someone other than a person I knew well. A few minutes later, I grabbed my coat and gave Eva a kiss on her forehead.

From here, I could go on and on about the benefit of going out that night.

The date was only three hours, but I kept in touch with Emily by text and knew when Eva nodded off to sleep and had her last bottle. Those hours, relatively minor in Eva’s world, worked wonders for getting her two frazzled, fatigued parents outside, where they could look into each other’s eyes, share some wine ... and, you guessed it, talk all about her.

 

Meredith Franco Meyers has written for Fit Pregnancy, Momtastic, Ladies' Home Journal, American Baby, The Bump, SELF, Parents.com, and more. She is a contributing editor for EuroCheapo.com and is on the faculty at Gotham Writers' Workshop. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two girls (ages 6 and 3). Follow her on her blog, Stay-at-Home Writer, or via Twitter.


Image via iStock.com/Bart Sadowski

Read More >