Separation anxiety

English: Huli Wigman from the Southern Highlan...

I’ve just returned from a 4 and a half day work trip to Papua New Guinea. It is the longest I’ve ever been away from Lil Z.

She did remarkably well without me. She was cheerful, she took naps, and she ate well. Plus, she woke just enough in the night to remind QB that it isn’t easy getting up with her in the night and then going to work in the morning. And when I came back from my trip, she gave me a big smile.

It wasn’t quite as easy for me. I missed her. A lot. I missed Vegemite, too, although at four and a half she’s already quite independent and I knew she’d enjoy spending some special time with QB. I spend so much time taking care of Lil Z, however, that it is hard to let go, even for a few days.

Part of it, no doubt, is fear that she doesn’t care if I’m there or not. For a long time it seemed like it didn’t matter who was looking after Lil Z, it could be me or a stranger off the street, she didn’t care. She seemed oblivious to everything and everyone. She was often unsettled and screamed for hours – and it never made the slightest difference if it was me, QB, the nanny or someone else trying to comfort her. That was one of the reasons why I continued to breastfeed for as long as I did: it was the only thing that I could do that no one else could to comfort her. And when we stopped, I felt sad and anxious that I’d lost the only bond I had with her.

Fortunately, that has changed a bit. Whether it is the anti-seizure medication working or simply her developmental progress, but she now seems to take more notice of those around her. And she has preferences: there are people she likes to hold her and those that she’d rather didn’t. She made it very clear recently that she didn’t want the SALT to hold her, but she stopped fussing immediately when he handed her back to me. And when the SALT commented that I was obviously her “safe person”, the person she felt most secure with, it made me feel surprisingly pleased. Surprisingly because I hadn’t realised it before.

QB was working overseas when Vegemite was a toddler and so the two of us were very close. I never worried whether I was her “safe person” because it was apparent from very early on. It hasn’t been apparent with Lil Z and now that we finally do seem to be establishing a bond, its hard to leave her, not only because I can provide her with a feeling of security, but also because I fear that if I’m away for too long, we could lose what I’ve worked so hard to achieve.

This is in the forefront of my mind, not only because there will invariably be more trips to Papua New Guinea in my future, but also because I’m planning to leave Lil Z for three weeks after Christmas. Vegemite and I will be going to Michigan to visit my family and then to London to visit family and friends there, before flying back home. Although we’d initially planned to go as a family, QB and I have decided that Lil Z’s seizures are not controlled well enough to risk it. So, QB will be staying home with Lil Z while Vegemite and I go (don’t feel too bad for QB, in exchange he’ll be doing a ski trip with Vegemite later in the year, while I stay home with Lil Z).

I know she won’t miss me, nor will she forget me. But still, the thought of our separation brings a degree of anxiety.



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