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April 11, 2017

Katie on FOX: why it's OK to get away without your toddler

Katie's Baby FOX 29
Katie on Fox Fox29/for PhillyVoice

Dr. Argie Allen, Ph.D., PhillyVoice contributing writer Katie Gagnon, and "Good Day Philadelphia" hosts Mike Jerrick and Alex Holley in the Fox29 studio on Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Experts agree – (and we’re including “Good Day Philadelphia” hosts Alex Holley and Mike Jerrick on this) – that new moms ought to get their “physical, mental and spiritual” minds right shortly after having a baby to maintain the well-beings of both mom and baby. And a vacation for the parents comes as no exception.

That’s what Katie Gagnon, author of PhillyVoice’s weekly “Katie’s Baby” column, talked about this morning on Fox29 with the “Good Day” hosts.

Last week’s column, “Leaving the baby for the first time: The vacation I almost skipped,” recounted Gagnon’s internal struggles with leaving her six-month-old, Killian, for five days, while she vacationed with her husband in Boca Raton, Fla.

The question plagues many moms and dads, said Jerrick. When is it OK to get away and take a break when you have a toddler? You feel guilt, but is that normal? When is it OK to give yourself permission?

After consulting with her pediatrician, Gagnon was given the green light to go to Florida. So, she said yes – emphatically. Little Killian stayed with his grandparents in New Jersey.

“Our baby was born last October, so simply the idea of having a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep seemed like a dream come true,” she said Tuesday morning on “Good Day.”

“I woke up [the morning before departure] and thought, ‘how could I leave this little guy? I can’t do it.’ But once I had a Bloody Mary and a nap on the plane, I said, ‘I’m good! Send me back, I just had a vacation.’ But ultimately, I really enjoyed the time with my husband. I knew that I needed to recharge my battery. I needed some sleep. I needed to just unwind.”

Dr. Argie Allen, Ph.D., is director of clinical training for the couple and family therapy program at Drexel University. She joined Gagnon on Tuesday morning’s program with Jerrick and Holley.

“The most precious gift you can get is this child and you don’t want to mess it up and that’s where the guilt comes from,” said Allen.

“But moms are not only hard on themselves, but they’re judgmental about other moms. So, they’re questioning whether [they should] go back to work or go on vacation, but some of those negative messages are internal messages based on fear, and many of them don’t come true.”

The most precious gift you can get is this child and you don’t want to mess it up and that’s where the guilt comes from,” – Dr. Argie Allen 

“You know what I learned in therapy? Ninety-seven percent of what we worry about never happens,” said Jerrick.

“That’s right,” said Allen.

“What do they tell you on the plane? Put your oxygen mask on first. They tell parents – you are no good to your child if you don’t save yourself first. It’s a metaphor for life. If you’re not well – physically, mentally, spiritually – then your baby is not going to be well, and if your relationship is not well, then that baby is going to take from your anxiety.”

Gagnon told Jerrick and Holley that when she returned to the Philadelphia area, she felt “like a whole new woman.”

“I felt recharged. Rejuvenated. I felt like I had another six months of sleepless nights to give.”