I know many people will probably think I am a terrible mother for this but I left my five and half month-old twins with my parents and went to Aruba for five nights. Crazy, right?
Before my twins were even conceived, we had planned a trip with my closest friends from high school to go to Aruba for our 30th birthdays. We had talked about this trip for years and finally had hotels and plane tickets booked! We were so excited and it was going to be an epic, relaxing week on the island! A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. At the time, I thought that I would have one healthy baby and I was sure my mother would love to get her hands on that baby for a few days without Geoff and I hovering. No big deal, right? Can you tell I’d never been a parent before? :)
Obviously, that whole plan went to shit. I found out in November that we were having twins and then surprisingly, they arrived twenty-eight weeks into my pregnancy. We spent two months in the hospital watching them grow and learn how to survive. We struggled with the twins and their prematurity for months when they came home… eating, problems, GI issues, horrible reflux and many appointments for their development.
As we got closer to our departure date, my parents and in laws urged us to still go in July and we knew that they would take great care of Grace and Cole. Our friends wanted us to go and have fun. The Social Worker I was seeing for post-partum depression thought it would be good for us to go to reconnect and relax. The doctors our twins saw thought it would be great for our sanity. The guilt still raged on inside me. The exhaustion took over my life. I felt awful about leaving my babies. There had not been one day where I had not seen my babies and now I was going to go away for five days without them. As we weighed the options and thought it through, the words of one wise nurse stayed with me. We had mentioned the trip to her a few weeks before the babies could come home and she told us it would be “the smartest decision we’ve ever made if we go.” At the time, I felt guilty about even thinking of leaving my babies for a day, let alone a vacation for five nights but now, I understood what she meant.
By the time mid-July came around, I needed this trip for my sanity. I would never have even considered it if we didn’t have such amazing family close by to take care of the twins. We packed anything they could possibly need, put together an hour by hour feeding schedule and wrote down every trick we knew for each child. We ripped off the band-aid, left the twins with our parents, boarded the plane and off we went. We spent five days relaxing, eating great food, drinking fruity drinks, laying out in the sun, getting a massage, gambling, and playing BINGO in the pool. I got to spend five days focused on me. I got to read a book. I got to have adult conversations. I got to have someone else wash my towels, clean my bathroom and make my meals. It was wonderful! (Also, with modern technology, we could facetime every day so we still got to see them virtually each day!)
I believe the more time that passed and we did not leave our babies, the harder it would have been. We ripped the band aid off and it was great for all of us. Geoff and I got to relax, reset, get some sleep and have some fun. Our parents got to spend quality time with the twins, even though I know they were exhausting. Grace and Cole didn’t even know we were gone and got to spend great time with family! They had wonderful care and were with people who love them. Everyone was fine and since then, we’ve travelled for a couple of weddings (a night or two each) and are now planning our next trip to France in June! It may be a little tougher now that the kids are older and know who we are but they are so well adjusted with our families, that I am sure it will be fine once again!
Geoff and I want to continue to try to get away once a year without the kids. It may not always be able to be a week away but even if it’s just a nice weekend somewhere to sleep in, eat out and relax. It’s important to take care of yourself because happy parents create happy children. We can’t all afford to go away every year or may not have the caregivers to help with that but taking care of yourself can show itself in many ways- take a walk alone when your husband gets home from work or go treat yourself to a massage or stay overnight in a hotel as a treat for your anniversary! Just don’t forget about you and your sanity. You are still a person, not only a mother. Sometimes, we need to nourish that part of ourselves as well.