Today I took Mr Boo to his first two-hour settling in session at nursery. It shouldn’t have been too traumatic. Mr Boo is incredibly sociable and loves being with other people. Moreover, I know the nursery well as Sissyboo spent part of four days a week there for four and a half years. I’ve been in to see them several times about Mr Boo’s unique needs and have been repeatedly reassured. But I felt awful being without him. It wasn’t just that I felt guilty because I am going back to work in three weeks. It wasn’t just that I missed him, worried about how he’d be or that he would love his keyworker more than me. I felt all of these things with Sissyboo and none of my worst fears was realised. But this feeling was different. Awful.
I felt lost. Irretrievably lost. Like a child separated from its mum in the supermarket, I felt frightened, as if things would never be OK again, and I felt utterly paralysed by confusion and the disorientation of being separated from someone who I need as much as he needs me.
The only thing worse than the feeling itself was my intense recollection of having felt this way before. Having your baby lie in an incubator, dependent not on you as they should be, but on people you’ve never met, who have to teach you how to cuddle, bathe and change them so as not to disturb wires, cannulas and ventilators, is one of the most unsettling experiences I have endured. But it is nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to how profoundly, gut-wrenchingly wrong and unnatural it feels to leave your baby and go home. But that’s exactly what I did, the morning after Mr Boo was born, even though I could have stayed a day or two longer. I didn’t want to go, but I had my reasons. And one day I hope to forgive myself. But not today. Especially not today.