Ellie and my dad are on a plane in Houston right now, waiting to take off and come back to Puerto Rico. Overall, this trip has been a total success. My parents loved having Ellie there, she apparently loved being there, and Joe and I really enjoyed the break from parenting. Also, it seems that Ellie made excellent progress towards sleeping through the night without nursing and we are going to try very hard to maintain that once she gets home. We have all joked that home will seem boring after visiting Grandma and Grandpa, but my mom also says Ellie is really looking forward to seeing us.
It's weird - I had major misgivings about going from "never spent a night away from mom" to a week away, but it did not appear to bother her at all. According to my mother, there was no "adjustment" phase or any crying about missing us. As for me, well,, leaving her at the airport was very hard, but this entire week, I was very happy to know that she was having fun and trying new things. The first two days were the hardest, but then it got easier.
I think we will try to make this a bi-yearly event - although not next spring because we will be visiting my parents in February when the baby comes and then in May/June while Joe is in Washington. Still, it's nice to have a small break and know with certainty that Ellie is enjoying herself and being well cared for.
I did have a few insights due to her absence. First, I knew this, but having a child is the reason our house is always a mess. It makes me feel better to know that I can still keep a house organized and clean, but that it is the little tornado living here that makes it impossible. It's not just that she makes messes, but caring for her takes up that time that I might otherwise use to just straighten up.
Second, being pregnant is not what it wearing me down - it is being pregnant and caring for Ellie while working full time. I think I could do two of the three just fine, but it's that third one that means I'm exhausted at the end of the day.
Third, I was always one of those people who thought of my dogs as kids. I have no problem with people who refer to their dogs as their kids and I can see why they do it. However, it really hit me this week, when we had just dogs and no kid, that dogs are about a thousand times easier than kids. You walk them, feed them, and pet them occasionally, and they are happy. And if you want to run out for dinner or to get coffee or something, they just stay at the house.
Finally, before Ellie left, she was nursing basically just at bedtime/naptime and if she woke in the night (which happened maybe 3 nights a week). I was very sore from nursing while pregnant and there's no milk left. Also, my brain knows that Ellie will like her baby brother better if she's not still nursing when he comes. Despite all that, my heart is a little bit sad that I may have nursed her for the last time. I guess I should focus on being glad that we got to nurse for two and a half years. When we started, I had absolutely no idea how much it would mean to me. I thought about it a lot the week before she left, so it's not like it's unexpected for me. I didn't talk to Ellie about it, which I now regret, but I didn't think about it after she left. Still, my mom said she didn't ask to nurse when I wasn't there and Joe is going to take over bedtime for a week or two here. I'm hoping it's just me that will have to make the emotional adjustment and that Ellie is ready. If she's just not ready, she can still nurse, but I'd like to avoid that.
Well, my dad just called - the plane is due to take off in a few minutes. Oh the coolest part of their return trip - because of my job, I have a airport ID badge that I've never used but it's supposed to let me in anywhere in the airport. So, Joe and I are going to try to meet them at the gate. I can't wait to see her!