52 Weeks of Fatherhood: Week 47

The last few weeks have felt like treading water, waiting for this for this day to come. Now it’s finally here, I’m not sure I’m ready. This week, Liberty starts nursery.

I’m convinced the phasing in week is more for our benefit than Liberty’s. It’s a big step handing over the care of your precious little girl to a complete stranger. Maybe she can stay at home a little bit longer? Nope. Time to go.

My wife took her in on the first day. I felt a bit helpless. All I could do was wave them off, then begin the agonising wait until they returned. She was only away for an hour or so, but I was on tenterhooks the whole time. I couldn’t wait for them to get back so I could get a full debrief. In short, it went really well. All you have to do is sit in the playroom while Liberty explores and makes new friends. I can handle that. Oh yes, however what my wife forgot to mention is they switch things up on day two. Sure you still sit in the playroom for a bit, but then you have to leave for 20 minutes so Liberty gets used to us not being there. She screamed the entire time.

Sitting next door in the staff area, the paper thin walls did little to mask her disapproval. It took every fibre of my body to keep me from running through to comfort her. I wasn’t able to show the same restraint with the unattended box of Thorntons chocolates however. What can I say, stress makes me hungry. 17 chocolates later, I was called back in to be reunited with my screaming baby. I know this is all part of the process, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Wednesday is the big one. It’s half a day, with us out of the room the whole time. My wife took her in and the plan was for me to take over at halftime. Much to my disappointment, I wasn’t needed. We could leave (eek!) for an hour or so and they would call if anything major happened. I knew it had to happen at some point but it definitely felt strange walking out of the nursery without a bundle of joy in my arms. Luckily I had things to keep me occupied, parcels to pick up, clothes to return and lunch to grab. I had completely forgot how easy it was to do all of this when you don’t have a baby tagging along. Still, Liberty was never far from my thoughts, and I finished up all my errands in perfect timing to collect her.

When I went into the room to pick her up, she was sat at a table play with some blocks. With her back turned, I was able to sneak up behind her and crouch down before she clocked me. The second she caught my eye the floodgates opened. Thankfully all it took was a quick cuddle and some reassurance and she was ok again. We then had the whole afternoon together, but my plans for some nice father-daughter time were kiboshed when she slept for an unprecedented hour and a half. All the excitement/trauma of nursery must have really taken it out of her.

Wow that escalated quickly! It’s only day four but now it’s time to leave her in for almost a whole day. I played bad cop and did the drop off. I’m not sure what the protocol is but the second I handed liberty over she started wailing. This was like nothing I’d ever heard before. I felt like a really bad dad. Still, I did my best to stay upbeat. I reassured her, then with a kiss on the head, made my escape. Despite being able to hear her screams from the car park, I knew this is for the best. When I called at lunchtime to check in they said that she was doing great. She’d been a bit teary in the morning but was fine now and enjoying herself. Having sat in on a few of Liberty’s play dates, I’ve see one baby cry the entire time I was there. I wonder if they tell his parents the same thing… We need reassurance too.

On Friday morning I had to comfort not one, but two bubbling wrecks, when both Liberty and my wife cried during drop off. I’ve started to approach the nursery drop off a lot like removing a plaster. Just rip it off and get it over with. The longer you hang around the more you want to stay, and that just gets everyone upset. With drop off behind us and the tears wiped away, she settled into a great day. She enjoyed her lunch and even managed her usual 30 minutes snooze in the afternoon. Liberty’s day went just as well… When my wife and I went to pick her up there were no tears just lots of cuddles and big smiles. The perfect end to her settling in week.

The best thing this week

Seeing Liberty playing and enjoying time with her new friends was lovely.

The worst thing this week

Having to claw Liberty off me to hand her in on that first full day, did nothing to help my already maxed out parental guilt-o-meter.

What I’ve learnt this week

Separation anxiety permeates a baby’s entire world. Ever since starting nursery, Liberty has been waking up just an hour after she goes to bed. Which is really unlike her. The fear that we’ll leave her alone for hours on end is obvious having a big impact on her. I can only hope she isn’t too distressed by this massive shift in routine.

Weekly stats

11 Nappies changed
Baseline 84/wk

47 Hours sleep
Baseline 56hr/wk

7 Happiness
out of 10

4 Stress
out of 10

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