Monday, May 25, 2009

Leaving on a Jet Plane 4/2009

A year ago I had hoped to go on a work related trip. The timing however, coincided with my children coming home from their lengthy stay in the NICU. My husband was supportive, and told me to book the trip if I wanted to go. It might be good for me to get away for a couple of days. Mind you, I work at home, it wasn’t a long trip, and the flight was only a couple of hours. The time zone was not even that drastic. I waited until the last minute, my colleagues bugging me to know whether or not to expect me. I finally lined up my babysitters, who were still relatively new to us, took a deep breath and booked my trip with mileage.

A few nights later, I had packed and was up late running around stuffing last minute things into my carry on, when I had a full blown melt down. It was 11pm and I was due to leave for the airport at 3am to make a 6am flight. My husband’s aunt was visiting us, and as we sat on the couch, I began to cry. I became a fountain of “what ifs”, spouting one thing after another about what could go wrong while I was away. Things that could happen to me, things that could happen to my babies. The more I talked about it, the more I cried. One of my sons had the sniffles and I extrapolated that into a head cold, ear infection, etc. and worried that if I didn’t stay home to go to the doctor with him, that no one else would be able to explain properly to the doctor what was wrong with him.

I finally decided around midnight that there was no way I could leave. I called the airline, had my mileage credited back (for a whopping $100, ouch), and canceled my hotel and rental car. I went to bed, unable to sleep. That didn’t really matter so much, as we weren’t really sleeping at that point anyway. I managed to close my eyes. A few hours later, I woke up, called the doctor, and babies and Aunt Eleanor in tow, headed to see the pediatrician. As it turned out, my son needed antibiotics, but he was ok. I felt my feelings had been validated, patted myself on the back for being true to my instincts, but secretly wondered if I had given in to fear.

Is this a fear that all parents feel, new parents or not? I have since come to understand that it is, and once I began to get more rest, was able to start dealing with it better. I can’t remember ever feeling so totally afraid and so totally hopeful about life all at once, as I imagine my children's future.

Tomorrow I will get on a plane and go to the same meeting I missed last year. I talked my mother into coming along so I would not be alone. But this will be the first time I have been away from my children for more than about 20 hours. I will be away for THREE. WHOLE. DAYS. I have been too busy to think about it until now. But tonight, my chest filled with that butterfly-anxiety-excitement that I always get before I fly. I know it’s ok for me to go. But I feel like I am stepping off a cliff into a new world. And I wonder . . . will I feel better about it all or more guilty when I return?

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