Owen T.
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11 Month Separation Anxiety: What Worked for Us

Dada Diaries

My first daughter, Faith, is almost one. She will turn one in a week, and we thought now is a great time for her to be in daycare full time. My wife went to work, I dropped her off on my way to work, my wife picked her up, they ate lunch, Faith went back, I picked her up and we all ate dinner together. She had never been at the daycare for more than two hours at a time. It worked for us because Faith has a different schedule than the daycare, and my wife was able to pick her up. We decided to make her full time for two reasons: 1) she's never interacted with the other kids because she never had the chance, 2) my wife’s hours got switched and she won’t be able to pick her up, so they can have lunch together. 

The first day. 

The first day was awful. I dropped her off and she had no idea she wouldn’t see mama and papa for eight hours. She went in, grabbed a truck, and started driving it back and forth. (Yes, we let her play with trucks.) An hour past the time my wife usually picks up Faith, I get a call. It was my wife telling me the daycare called about Faith. She wouldn’t nap and was banging on the walls balling. According to the teacher, she was hitting some of the kids and throwing toys. I know, I know. Owen, I don’t believe this is true. Trust me. It happened. She just recently started walking without falling, and can even run a bit too. Her meltdowns have been awful. We usually end up putting her in her PlayPen (without the toys of course) until she calms down so she doesn’t get injured. The daycare wanted my wife to pick Faith up and my wife told them she was on her way. I told my wife to stand in the gated area for about five minutes until getting Faith. This way, Faith will calm down, but also get used to being without her mama. She had to stay there, and left once Faith was asleep and she knew no more meltdowns would happen. Wrong. When Faith woke up, she knew she wouldn’t have lunch with mama today and lost it. This time, the staff member was quick about getting her into the PlayPen. (Of course, my wife told her to.) When I arrived, I heard all about it. Faith didn’t eat her lunch and, together, we came up with a better plan. 

The plan. 

Instead of going cold turkey, we needed to slowly get her used to being departed. Our plan was, for the next day, instead of the girls coming home, Faith naps, and then they eat. They would have Faith nap here and eat at daycare. (My wife’s hours weren’t switched until Sunday.) Little by little, Faith would start spending full hours at the daycare. 

The second day. 

The second day was hard. When I dropped Faith off, she had a hard time entering. After yesterday, I felt she had lost her trust in me. I lifted her over the gate, kissed her head and put her down. She just stared at me. Her eyes were going to make me cry, she had the look of “please don’t leave me here dada” in her eyes. The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do is leave her. As soon as I closed the door, I heard the crying, the screaming, and it hurt. You don’t want your loved ones feeling sad and like they’ve lost trust in you. I wanted to go back in, but how could I? I come back for a few minutes and leave? That would be a tease and it would be worse. All day at work, all I could think is “is my daughter okay? Is she destroying the room? Has she stopped crying?” So when I knew they would be home, I went to my house. I asked my boss for an earlier lunch and he agreed. His children are nine, six and four. He’s been through this. At home, Faith was just put down for a nap. I went into the room to see her and she smiled. It’s like she knew she could trust me. I felt good, and so my wife and I ate lunch and I went back to work. Picking up Faith, it was a different story. I was informed once again that Faith did not eat. Maybe she should nap here and eat with my wife, would that work? I was also informed that she had two meltdowns. The PlayPen thing works though. When I grabbed Faith and her stuff, she started having another meltdown. I thought maybe she forgot something. I went back in and put her into the play area. She goes into the back corner and her balling slowly comes down to a sob. I go in to grab her and she screams! She doesn’t trust me. It pains me to think about it. I pick her up and start singing her bedtime song to her—"Days in the Sun" from Beauty and the Beast. Suddenly she calms down, she gives me a little hug and smiles. I felt so happy and emotional. This little girl has caused me so much joy and also a little pain. Just as I thought I wasn’t worthy and good enough to be her father, she proved I am. I want to give her the best life possible. First, we have to conquer this. 

I suddenly realized it was so much more than this. She now starts to recognize people, and she understands that I’m her father and my wife is her mother. It’s hard for her to leave us because she knows we are gone, but she doesn’t understand time. Faith knows when the other kids sleep, she does too, but mama is there. She didn’t know that she wouldn’t be picking her up today. It’s not about her being there the full eight hours, it’s about her knowing that we still love her and we will always come back even if we live for a while. This time, my wife will come back, but won’t touch Faith, won’t bring her home, she will wait until Faith is asleep and leave. Since she normally goes home for lunch at that time, she will bring her lunch with her and eat there. When Faith wakes up, if she doesn’t eat, my wife can sit at the table with Faith until she is done. 

The third day. 

The third day was better. I dropped her off, she went for the pretend kitchen, I left. No tears. When my wife went to see Faith, it was hard not to hug her. Faith and her were separated by a counter and a baby gate. Faith still had no tears—until nap time. The staff member put Faith onto her bed, and Faith lost it. She started crying and pointing to mama. My wife told the member leave her, she’ll be fine. Wrong. Faith tried to get out of her bed but she couldn’t. She started hysterically crying and screaming, keeping the other kids up. My wife’s presence made it worse. She went over and sang to Faith. Faith fell asleep and my wife went to eat lunch. After Faith woke up, she was screaming. Once my wife entered, she started sobbing. The staff member sat Faith down to eat, and she ate! Every bite was taken while staring at mama. After she left, Faith was crying but not as bad, it only took the help of Paw Patrol to calm her. When I picked her up, she looked so happy and gave me a monster hug. My little princess. 

The fourth day. 

By the fourth day, we thought we could repeat day three. Every thing was the same, I drop her off, she goes to the dolls, I leave. Wife comes in and Faith doesn’t notice. Nap time. Faith went to bed no problem, sees mama—problem. She stands up and points to her. My wife blows her a kiss, and turns to leave. Faith starts to cry. My wife stops, looks and just waits patiently. Faith falls asleep and my wife leaves. After the nap, my wife was not there. Faith would not eat until she entered. Every bite was spent looking at mama. The staff shows Faith over to the carpet to watch a show and my wife left. No tears. I came to pick her up and she gives me an even bigger monster hug than yesterday. We grab her stuff and go. After hearing about the day, my wife and I decided it was time.

The fifth day. T

he fifth day was the hardest. I dropped her off but couldn’t seem to let go. I knew that no matter how today went, I had two days with her to make it up. Today I had to work, though; next week my wife wouldn’t be able to come and it would be hassle for me. I gave her a kiss and she went for the blocks. When I came to pick her up, I heard all about the day. At nap time, Faith went to bed with no tears. When she woke up, there were a few tears. She obviously didn’t sleep well and was tired, but also seemed to miss mama. During lunch, it was hard to get her to eat and the staff member had to feed her every bite, while Faith watched the door. After lunch, she watched tv and there was a little bit of a sob. When I picked her up, she was happy to see me. She dropped everything and gave me a hug. I kissed her and grabbed her stuff. 

We made it to the end of the week. Lots of tears, heartache, and a hungry girl. We are still getting used to it and I miss the pictures of my girls eating lunch, but I’m happy that the hard part is over. 

All information is from people mentioned 

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