Ditch the Child Care Drama
The freak-out: What if my baby loves the caregiver more? "I felt so sad when I first returned from maternity leave, because our nanny was the one getting to spend all the time with my son."
Elise Bender-Segall, Livingston, New Jersey
Fear not! "No matter how close the baby gets to his caregiver, your mother-child bond is irreplaceable," says Lisa Noll, Ph.D., a psychologist at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston, who has helped soothe many a new mom. It's also reassuring to know that babies of full-time working moms don't develop more slowly (as previously suspected) than their peers, according to a study by the Teacher's College at Columbia University School of Social Work, in New York City.
The freak-out: Baby needs me! "I was concerned that the day-care staffers looking after my baby wouldn't know about the particular things he liked. If he started crying, would they remember that looking out the window at trees usually helps him calm down?"
Hannah Ross, Reston, Virginia
Fear not! Create a little "book" about your child--Introducing Calvin!--and list the toys, songs, and other stuff he likes and dislikes, Dr. Noll suggests. Tell the caregivers about techniques that soothe your sweetie; they'll be happy to know them.
The freak-out:I'll be out of touch with my child's life. "I really didn't want to go back to work and have someone else take care of my baby. I knew and adored her every move." Sara Brosious, Wilmington, Delaware
Fear not! Create new mommy-and-me rituals, like reading at bedtime. Ask your caregiver to capture any milestone moments on her phone and send them to you. You can also Facetime or Skype on your breaks!
The freak-out: I'll miss my baby so much, I won't be able to focus on my work. "I put my son into day care when he was 12 weeks old. To keep myself focused, I hung my favorite photos of him on the wall outside my cubicle so he was a topic of conversation and not the subject of a pity party!" Alisa Bonsignore, Pleasanton, California
Fear not! Besides photos, Dr. Noll suggests a baby journal: At lunch, or during moments when you find yourself thinking about something adorable your munchkin did, write down your thoughts and feelings and then go back to your day. And plan special after-work time (a dance party in the living room!) so you have something to look forward to.
The freak-out: I'm afraid I won't miss my baby -- and I should, shouldn't I? "I was thrilled to be home with my newborn, but after eight weeks, I was ready for adult conversations again. When I went back to work, I felt guilty that I didn't feel guilty!" Donna Williams, New York City
Fear not! Enjoying your job (and the perks that come with it) doesn't make you a bad mother. In fact, your ultimate goal is to be so confident that your baby's in great hands that you don't worry at all. "A child who is well-cared-for and emotionally well-adjusted will thrive," Dr. Noll says. Get more smart answers to your child-care questions at americanbaby.com/sittersolution.