parent opinion

OPINION: 'I know numbers are tight, but please don't ask me to leave my baby at home.'

Last year in March, our youngest daughter was born. 

My step-kids, toddler and grandparents came in to meet her that evening. The next morning as my husband and toddler were driving back into hospital, a nurse came into my room and told me that ‘because of COVID-19’ the overnight nursery would be closed, I wasn’t allowed to leave my room and no visitors would be allowed for four days.

My husband and toddler meeting the baby, before they were sent home and unable to return. Image: Supplied. 

I had only spent one night away from my toddler since she was born, and a handful more away from my husband, so I was devastated. I’d never felt so alone. 

My step-kids and toddler were upset too. What is going on? Why can’t we all be together? They desperately wanted to spend time with their baby sister. 

I remember returning home four days later and crying with happiness to be with my family again. 


Bringing her home. Image: Supplied. 

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And then the lockdowns began. In Melbourne we spent the better part of 2020 in one form of lockdown or restriction: six months or so in lockdown. So once 2021 rolled around and the functions started, I was ecstatic. 

The first function we were invited to, I tried to leave the baby at home for the first time with my amazingly caring and adoring mother-in-law for a couple of hours, planning on returning before her next feed. I had to turn around after an hour because the baby wasn’t having a bar of it! 

I regretted not just taking her, especially as the first question the host asked was, "Where’s your baby, I was hoping to meet her!"

Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. My friend with a baby the same age as mine tells me that she was invited to a function interstate. They booked flights and accommodation for the whole family. When the formal invitation arrived, there was an accompanying text: "Sorry no little ones".

She asked if they could bring the baby and the toddler for the ceremony portion and then pop back to the apartment to put them to bed and return in time for the cocktail function, given the baby had never been left with anyone and the toddler barely so due to the COVID-19 situation. 

No.

They explained their dilemma in every manner possible, but were advised that it just wasn’t an option ‘because of numbers’. So, they decided to do the only thing they could, which was attend once the little ones were asleep. 

After a whole year of being at home, no mothers' group, no visitors, no playdates, lockdown birthdays and no celebrations, it was a kick in the guts.

Unfortunately they missed the ceremony, but they decided to put their upset behind them and enjoy the evening with an open heart. 

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This is one example, so I hope it’s not a Covid trend? 

A few years ago, my husband’s best friend invited us to a daytime function. We took our baby. There was not even a mention of her being left at home. She was warmly welcomed, as was I. 

A function where my baby was very welcome. Image: Supplied. 

Whenever I look at a photo from that day, I feel the love. And I remember many a friend’s wedding pre-pandemic with more than one sleeping baby in the corner whilst all the new mums danced and laughed the night away with the other guests. It was wonderful and uplifting. 

Mothers of babies need to be included and supported. The first year of a baby’s life is a very isolating time for mothers and even more so during COVID-19 . Not to mention the risk of postnatal depression that is exacerbated by a lack of social support.

Listen: On This Glorious Mess Little Kids, we talk about the expectations versus the realities of welcoming a new baby, and that treacherous first year of parenthood. Post continues below.

A mother and her baby need to be thought of as a unit, a dyad. If you could think of a mother and all her young children in that way, even better! 

To ask a mother to come without her baby is expressing that you don’t value her presence. And let’s be real - it usually is the mother who misses out even in a two-parent household, so I’m using the term ‘mother’ as opposed to ‘parent’ quite deliberately. 

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A mother and her baby are a unit. Image: Supplied. 

I’m now ready to go out without my baby, but it’s a process that takes time. 

So, all I can say is this: if you have a daytime function, expect a baby or a young child. 

If you have an evening function where both parents are invited, depending on the age of the baby, expect them to be there. 

Kids love parties, too! Image: Supplied. 

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Not every family has a babysitter who is readily available, especially for babies who were born during COVID-19. Lots of babies wake at night for the first year or so of their life and need a feed or comfort. Some babies don’t take a bottle. Not every mother wants to or is comfortable to go out for hours on end without her baby, even if it sounds like an appealing proposition! 

Trust that if our baby cries or disturbs your function in any way, we will take them out of the room. We are well attuned to our children and will balance that with your expectations as a host and our responsibilities as a guest.

Elizabeth Stone once said, "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."

Understand that it’s not always a choice for a mother to bring her baby. It’s a need. 

Do you agree? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Feature image: Supplied.

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