Yesterday I did my presentation with my colleague, and AJ stayed home with a babysitter for the first time.
It went well!
I did actually sleep the night before. (Mr. Turtle says he was restless, however.) I think I had been worrying and wondering so much in the weeks before I had no energy left for more anxiety. My friend arrived at about 11 and we walked through the house and talked about any final questions. AJ was in a good mood. Ten minutes before I left I fed AJ, then I did a quick goodbye (thanks for that advice). I took a cab since parking downtown is very difficult, and there are no spaces at the park and ride, and I did not want to be bothered with buses. The cab driver was chatty which helped to distract me on the ride there.
When I got to the convention centre I was able to focus my mind on the presentation. I think this is a skill I've learned as a teacher: to be in the moment and give my full attention to what is going on in front of me. Even though it's been a few months since I've talked to a group I was able to use that skill. Of course it helped a lot that my colleague was there; we could reflect each other's energy. We had some technical issues (of course!) even though I tried so hard to prepare so that we wouldn't. But the connector I bought for the laptop didn't work. We improvised until the tech support fellow could bring us another laptop that could connect to the projector. Luckily, as part of my over-preparedness I had also brought a memory stick with our files on it, so he just plugged that into the new computer. Always anticipate technical difficulties and over-prepare!
I wasn't able to call home to see how AJ and my friend were doing till about two hours and forty-five minutes after I left them. When my friend answered the phone, all I was listening for was panicked screaming. When I heard silence I knew it was probably OK! and it was. AJ had played a bit, then napped, and now she was giving hunger cues and my friend was preparing to feed her.
I went back to my workshop, but at this point we were pretty much done. After our presentation we had offered to stay to help anyone who wanted to work in small groups, but nobody wanted to stay much later, although a few did hang back to ask questions. I admit I was quite happy about this! I could get home quicker without feeling guilty about leaving my colleague alone to finish. The presentation was well received and several people said they found it helpful, so that is good to hear; I feel like it was probably worth the effort although it was a lot of effort!
I caught a cab home and the drive home was the worst part of the day. It was bumper to bumper rush hour traffic, so terribly slow and I got motion sick from all the starting and stopping. I'm sure the adrenaline crash and the fact I hadn't eaten since breakfast didn't help. It was also a warm day and I was sticky with sweat.
When I got home AJ was napping again and I debriefed with my friend. My friend said that her impression was that AJ was not completely relaxed; that she knew things were different from usual. However, AJ seemed to decide it was no big deal and she was willing to put up with my friend hahaha. She drank about 50mL from the bottle and had two short naps. To me those two things prove that she was quite happy and at ease.
I give my friend a lot of credit as I think she truly enjoyed being with AJ and tried very hard to make their time together pleasant. She read the "manual" and followed all the tips and routines in there, but also modified things when it made sense so that they worked for her. Since AJ isn't on a "schedule" (although getting more predictable) it's important to follow her cues and my friend was very good at this. And she even did little extra things, such as bringing her own favourite childhood CD and playing it for AJ. Apparently AJ enjoyed the "Banana Boat" song the best, especially the line "lift six foot seven foot eight foot BUNCH!" which made her chuckle and grin every time. I will have to put it on her iPod.
AJ woke up in time to "say goodbye" to my friend, and to do a whole lot of cute things to show she was happy to see me. She is using a lot of sounds, vowels and syllables now, interspersed with gurgles, snorts and spit bubbles. She also does this adorable "happy crunch" where she smiles, coos, and pulls her knees into her chest making herself into a ball. It's like she's bursting with happiness and excitement.
I was still feeling shaky and nauseated, and then when the nausea passed so hungry I stuffed anything in sight into my mouth. I fed AJ a couple of times then she fell asleep in my arms. I had missed her so I let her stay there to cuddle - perhaps a mistake! I don't know if she had a bad dream or what but she woke up wailing and then proceeded to have a full on meltdown for fifteen minutes. She calmed down a couple of minutes before Mr. Turtle walked in the door, and then she was fine!
Although it was a lot of worry and planning and preparation and over-thinking, I am glad that we were able to leave AJ with a sitter and it went well because now I know it can be done. Of course future times may go differently but at least the first time was encouraging! I feel good about myself although I was completely exhausted afterwards. Too exhausted even to take out my computer! (Perhaps it was the bright lights of the LCD projector and the big screen, but I felt like a computer screen would have been sensory overload). After a night's sleep I'm feeling more myself, but I have to wonder what it will feel like if/when I do go back to work, because this experience, though positive, felt like it took every last bit of mojo. Still, it did feel good to recapture a bit of my professional identity. AJ is my world but that part of my life is still important. (So many "buts" and "althoughs" and "stills"!)
I am grateful that Friday the 13th did no live up to its superstitious reputation. And happy Valentine's Day.