I’d been looking forward to a date night with my husband for ages, but would my baby have the same enthusiasm for staying asleep long enough for us to enjoy it?
It’s the best thing having a baby, and I rarely miss going out. We’ve had some lovely evenings having dinner and watching movies in the house, but we’ve always got one ear on the monitor ready to spring into action, which makes it hard to fully relax. (I do find myself choosing movies based on their short duration as a main deciding factor now, which gives some indication of my expectation of being called upon).
Last week as our baby approached 7-months-old we finally got the chance to go out on our own. I’d been planning for it a while, so I was ready to let my hair down (metaphorically and actually with no grasping fingers to grab it) and unwind, but I was also apprehensive.
We’ve had lots of kind people offer to babysit for us before now, but the nearest cinema or restaurant is a few miles away, so if she woke, it would take us a while to get home. Last week we were staying with my parents, and they live right in the town centre, so the nearest pub is just a few hundred metres away. We figured we could be home in minutes if required, and maybe even back in time to finish our drink, so it was too good a chance to pass up.
We had booked a table in a local tapas restaurant for 8pm and started putting her to bed at 7pm. That is her usual bedtime and normally it can take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to settle her, so I was hopeful we would make the booking, but still a little worried. I fed her and then got showered and changed into a nice dress, where easy access to my boob wasn’t a priority. By the time I’d put a bit of makeup on, she had settled to sleep, and it was still only 7.20pm. I grabbed my handbag and it felt weird going out the door without a heavy bag of nappies, muslin clothes and spare clothes weighing me down
We practically skipped down the street and grabbed a quick drink in a new bar I hadn’t been in before, so it was nice to feel "part of it" and experience something I'd heard people talking about.
I was feeling very relaxed as we arrived at the restaurant on time and ordered a bottle of wine and all our favourite tapas options. It was nice not to have to consider what we could eat with one hand whilst holding her.
As we waited for the food to arrive, invariably we found ourselves talking mainly about her and how proud we are. But as I thought about her a few doubts started to creep in. I knew my parents would be perfectly capable of looking after her, but it has been a while since they’ve settled a baby back to sleep, so maybe I should have involved them more in putting her to bed. I’d left them with the baby monitor and spare batteries, but I hadn’t told them anything about where her nappies or wipes were. I suddenly realised I hadn’t looked at my phone once. We’d been enjoying ourselves so much, I might have missed a call. I got my phone out, saw there were no missed calls, and put it on the table and was able to relax again.
When the food arrived we still ended up eating it really fast. I guess some new habits are hard to switch off for a night. However, we were able to order desserts and take our time with them.
As we waited for the bill, I sent a quick text checking everything was OK. My mum said she had woken briefly around 8.20pm but she had just repositioned her in the bed and she had fallen back asleep. My mum must have a magic touch! Good thing, otherwise it would have been the shortest date ever (apart from one I once went on where the guy mentioned his ex 20 times in the first five minutes).
After dinner, we went to two different bars for drinks, but by 10pm I was starting to yawn. Around that time my mum texted to say they’d put new batteries in the monitor but it wasn’t coming back on again. Pretty much straight away she sent another saying it was OK, but I took that as a sign to finish our drinks and head home. I guess we are just not late night party people anymore.
We were only out for about three hours, and for a lot of that time we talked about our beautiful baby girl, but we also managed to relax and be concentrate on the food, wine and each other for a while. It felt like a weight off my shoulders (and that wasn't just not carrying a nappy bag). I was happy to get home to her, but a part of me is wondering when we can do it again.